Agriculture director-general Mike Mlengana has warned that farm killings pose a threat to the economy.
“This on-going scourge of criminal attacks in the farming community is causing serious damages and uncertainty which may affect jobs‚ economic growth and food security in the sector. This cannot be left unattended‚” Mlengana said on Thursday.
He was speaking in Pretoria at a summit on farm killings and stock theft. He said the economic recovery witnessed in 2017 could partly be attributed to the agriculture‚ forestry and fisheries sectors‚ which bounced back from one of the worst droughts in recent history.
“The sector’s contribution to the GDP was 2.4% in 2017. The sectors have expanded for four consecutive quarters. The growth in the industry is attributed to the increase in the production of field crops‚ horticulture and animal products‚” Mlengana said in a prepared speech.
“We remain concerned about lack of stability within the farming communities as a result of farm killing and murdering and stock theft; we may fail our nation if we don’t act now in fighting against any form of violence against farm owners and farm workers.”
Mlengana said stock theft was also a major concern.
“Programme director‚ stock theft has become a business‚ and there are clear indications of syndicate involvement. Incidences of stock thefts are rising at an alarming rate that affects livestock farmers’ livelihoods‚” the director-general said.
“Livestock farmers are concerned that those who have been arrested in connection with stock theft have not received appropriate punishment. My department encourages livestock farmers to report all incidences of stock theft to SAPS and brand their animals.
“We need to stop pointing fingers to one another with regards to the root causes for these acts of violence. Instead we must come with workable solutions that are within the laws of our country.”
Mlengana said it was critical that farmers address widespread poverty.
“I wish to remind you that according to the Stats SA over 12 million people in South Africa live in extreme poverty and go to bed hungry every day. The critical question to ask is: What are we doing about the number of South Africans who go to bed hungry every single day?
“If there is no stability within the farming communities as a result of farm killing and murdering and stock theft‚ we may fail our nation if we don’t act now in fighting against any form of violence against brutal killing of farm owners and farm workers.”