Mzansi Agriculture Talk

Agriculture

Allow smallholder farmers access to markets

Farmers United of South Africa (FUSA) has championed a call for the Marketing of Agricultural Products Act (MAP Act) to be amended.

“Covid has shone us that the black farmers are really exposed to the ravages of the markets, and there’s none government regulation to prevent it. We arrived at the conclusion that the current form of the MAP Act was a barrier for black farmers” said FUSA President Ronnie Mackenzie.

At its mid-term review session, FUSA said the custodian of the Act – the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) did not have any powers to implement the provisions of the act.

FUSA concurred with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) discussion document that the Act was a compromised act.

“You say let there be a national marketing council (a state organ) for all players requiring market access but you fail to define the role of the NAMC and its authority by denying it decision making and executive powers. Did you know that the NAMC is the only state entity that does not have an Act that establishes it? How is that possible for so many years” berated Mackenzie.

For FUSA, it believed that the government had the power to transform the agricultural marketing environment but were too afraid to press the panic button.

“Industry bodies that control and administer the Trusts see themselves as lords, referee and player in the same field, and there is no government body chiding them for their actions. A simple term like transformation, they want to define it and own it, and government allows it” claimed Mackenzie.

Government for its part had attempted on a number of occasions to hold public hearings on the amendment of the MAP Act. The last hearings were conducted in 2014/2015 culminating into the suspension of public engagements.

FUSA demanded the MAP Act to be amended, and for the NAMC legislative functions to be firmly enacted and given executive powers. Once this was realised, smallholder farmers would be able to access markets and compete.

“Read the Industry Trusts Report since 2009. Same projects, same modus operandi, same results. Name one commercial black farmer from the hands of these Trusts? Yet they support transformation with 20% of fund levies. These white administrators will continue making a mockery of the ANC government while deserving black farmers watch helplessly.”

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