A day after schools opened, organized agriculture sat stoically tone deaf. As always, societal problems were foreign concepts to their ears. The hype about everything is always meaningless to this stiff-necked sector.
I watched in retrospect when the Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development Morakane Mosupyoe attempted to bring the message of food provisioning to a school at the opening of all schools this week.
No other agricultural body was reported doing anything on school opening day. Yet, in every workshops and conferences agricultural leader will preach and remind us of the tired rhetoric ‘agriculture was important in our daily existence.’
South Africa is gripped by child malnutrition with Gauteng, Free State and KZN leading the pack. In 2018, Stats SA reported that malnutrition in children was increasing at an alarming rate.
Instead of the agricultural sector being concerned of this statistic and establish food gardens at schools as a response, its soaks itself in politics.
Farmers have also been drawn into this political arena and lost focus on increasing agricultural production. This status of events is indeed tad worrying considering how menial society considers agriculture.
School open days like these are missed opportunities by the agricultural sector. Getting society back to farming ways could inspire innovation in planting and harvesting food. We have seen breakthroughs in innovation by youth from other sectors such as health, engineering etc. Truthfully, it is hard to count the number of youth innovation breakthroughs in agriculture.
In the era of 4TH Industrial Revolution, South African agricultural innovation is nowhere to be seen as compared to other countries. First World countries have advanced their agricultural innovation with the youth being at the forefront of such revolution.
But we are far from this until organized agriculture unmasks its bias, secrecy and prejudice. The collapse of agricultural public high school mostly concentrated in small farming communities are now relics.
Dilapidated infrastructure tells you a story that agriculture once lived here. These schools were once bastions of providing communities with good nutritional food and are now considered as ordinary high schools.
Organized agricultural sector, with its shareholding in Industry Trusts, export earnings and chunks of local profits made, it still has not concerned itself or come into terms with this societal problem. It has lost the decency to live by the slogan coined by Paul Harvey ‘So God made a farmer.’