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Nation in Conversation – Academics bring down Holy Cows with hard Facts

  • 18 May 2016
  • 2043
  •  Nation in Conversation
  •  press-release

Croucamp was part of a panel discussion consisting of host Prof Johann Kirsten, Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development at the University of Pretoria, and Prof Nick Vink, Chairman: Department of Agriculture Economy, University of Stellenbosch. 
The three academics tackled the state of agriculture under the title Academics in Discussion – Bringing Down Holy Cows with Hard Facts. Prof Johann got the ball rolling by asking his two peers if it was a good idea to get organised agriculture to speak as one voice when dealing with the Government.
“I don’t think it’s possible,” said Dr Croucamp, “we’re too diverse. However, we should try to agree on, for example the principle of getting behind land reform.”
“Farmers have to manage transformation themselves, the fact of the matter is that they are actually the best qualified to manage it, just look how they have adapted and remained viable even after subsidies were removed in the 80’s. There needs to be a mind shift that it’s about making the cake bigger through empowerment instead of thinking they’re going to have to share the cake with more people.”
Prof  Nick added that “the fundamental underlying issue is the fact that we have very diverse natural resources from one end of the farm to the other end, you can’t do as you do in India and Pakistan where each farm looks the same... we also have diversity among farmers which ranges from illiteracy to incredibly smart guys....if you don’t build this into your plan for transformation you lose the fight before you begin.... I don’t think you can tell farmers what to do, but you should give them guidelines and allow them to find the solution...”
“Secondly, you can’t give people land and not provide support for them to manage the land.... the support systems have to be in place before you start farming because then you’ll know if you’re going to be profitable.”
Prof Nick made the point that farmers should take heed that “you can’t be rude and dismissive of someone and expect them to negotiate with you in good faith,” with reference to media reports and organised agriculture’s interaction or reporting on government statements.
Dr Croucamp said transformation means different things to different people, Minister Nkwente sounds like he wants to take the farms from white farmers and just give it to black farmers, but if you look at his budget, nothing’s actually happened in real terms.”
The discussion became more animated when the audience added their questions to the debate. Watch the full discussion at the links below.

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