Free State Agriculture stresses accountability and agrees on MoU with Department of Agriculture

The executive management of Free State Agriculture (FSA) met with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State and agreed to draw up a memorandum of understanding to structure a working relationship. Here William Bulwane, MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State, is addressing attendees. Photo: Free State Agriculture

Accountability. This summarizes Francois Wilken’s, President of Free State Agriculture (FSA), message to William Bulwane, MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State, and his delegation.

According to Wilken the most important aspect of a relationship between FSA and Bulwane’s department is being accountable. “If we are not going to fix this, we might as well go home,” he said on 5 September 2019 at a meeting between members of the FSA executive management and the department.

Both parties agreed at the meeting, also attended by Dr Tankisi Masiteng, to draw up a memorandum of understanding to structure a working relationship between them. Masiteng is the head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State.

Wilken insisted that the meeting is not just another talk shop with no tangible results as similar meetings before. Tommie Esterhuyse, Vice President of FSA, also stressed that to move forward effectively mutual trust was crucial and the department’s leadership should lead by example. “Then we can concentrate on the positives to inspire the sector going forward,” he said while thanking Bulwane for the engagement.

Issues addressed

Wilken emphasized FSA’s position on private ownership of land and said that not granting full titles to new entrants into agriculture, via subsidised bank credit, is also holding back emerging farmers. He praised the Department of Agriculture’s veterinary services and the military for preventing the spread of anthrax from Lesotho into South Africa and criticized the national Department of Agriculture on the handling of the foot-and-mouth disease, which cost South Africa billions in export revenue.

Some of the key issues raised by FSA included rural crime and livestock theft impacting the sustainability of farmers, large, small and subsistence, and farm workers. Problems at the Lesotho border, which include arson, crime and the threat of the spread of notifiable diseases because of insufficient policing (manpower, vehicles, investigative capacity and pounds) were also highlighted.

The shocking state of disrepair of rural roads and closing of rural licencing and testing stations was also on the agenda, together with the threat of gas prospecting and mining environmental approvals and the dysfunctional offices of the department in the small towns.

Bulwane’s plea to farmers

Bulwane condemned farm murders and all forms of rural crime and acknowledged that government works too much in silos. He said he will relay departmental specific issues to relevant peers and Lesotho counterparts and suggested to meet again in two months to evaluate progress.

He requested FSA to work together to help raise the Gross Domestic Product of the province and admitted that agriculture was the only sector with potential to grow the economy and create more jobs. Bulwane made a plea to the FSA farmers to share their skills and help new entrants into agriculture get on their feet and to access markets to have sustainable, economically viable farming units.

The executive management of Free State Agriculture (FSA) met with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State and agreed to draw up a memorandum of understanding to structure a working relationship. From left at the back is Tommie Esterhuyse, Vice President of FSA, and Dr Tankisi Masiteng, head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State. In front is William Bulwane, MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State, and Francois Wilken, President of FSA. Photo: Free State Agriculture

Vrystaat Landbou beklemtoon verantwoordbaarheid en stem in tot verstandhouding met Departement van Landbou

Verantwoordbaarheid. Dit is ’n opsomming van Francois Wilken, President van die Vrystaat Landbou (VL), se boodskap aan William Bulwane, LUR vir Landbou en Landelike Ontwikkeling in die Vrystaat, en sy afvaardiging.

Volgens Wilken is die belangrikste aspek van ’n verhouding tussen VL en Bulwane se departement om verantwoordbaar te wees. “As ons dit nie gaan regstel nie, kan ons maar net sowel huis toe gaan,” het hy op 5 September 2019 by ’n vergadering tussen lede van die VL se Uitvoerende Bestuur en die department gesê.

Albei partye het op die vergadering, wat ook deur dr Tankisi Masiteng bygewoon is, ooreengekom om ’n memorandum van verstandhouding op te stel om ’n werksverhouding tussen hulle te struktureer. Masiteng is die Hoof van die Departement van Landbou en Landelike Ontwikkeling in die Vrystaat.

Wilken het daarop aangedring dat die vergadering nie net nóg ’n gepraat met geen tasbare resultate, soos soortgelyke vergaderings in die verlede, is nie. Tommie Esterhuyse, Vise-president van VL, het ook beklemtoon dat wedersydse vertroue nodig is om doeltreffend vorentoe te gaan en dat die department se leierskap deur voorbeeld moet lei. “Dan kan ons op die positiewe aspekte konsentreer om die sektor in die toekoms te inspireer,” het hy gesê toe hy Bulwane vir die ontmoeting bedank het.

Kwessies aangespreek

Wilken het VL se standpunt oor die privaatbesit van grond benadruk en gesê deur nie volle titelaktes aan nuwe toetreders tot landbou, via gesubsidieerde bankkrediet, te gee nie, ook iets is wat opkomende landbouers terughou.

Hy het die Departement van Landbou se veearts-dienste en die weermag geprys vir die voorkoming van die verspreiding van miltsiekte vanaf Lesotho na Suid-Afrika en het die nasionale Departement van Landbou gekritiseer oor die hantering van bek-en-klouseer, wat Suid-Afrika miljarde rande aan uitvoerinkomste gekos het.

Van die belangrikste kwessies wat deur VL geopper is, was onder meer landelike misdaad en veediefstal wat die volhoubaarheid van landbouers (groot, klein en bestaans) en plaaswerkers beïnvloed. Probleme by die Lesotho-grens, wat brandstigting, misdaad en die bedreiging van die verspreiding van aanmeldbare siektes weens onvoldoende polisiëring (mannekrag, voertuie, ondersoekkapasiteit en skutte) insluit, is ook uitgelig.

Die skokkende toestand en instandhouding van landelike paaie en die sluiting van landelike lisensiërings- en toetsstasies was ook op die agenda, asook die bedreiging van goedkeurings vir gas- en myn-prospektering en die departement se disfunksionele kantore in klein dorpies.

Bulwane se pleidooi aan landbouers

Bulwane het plaasmoorde en alle vorme van landelike misdaad veroordeel en erken dat die regering te veel in silo’s werk. Hy het gesê hy sal spesifieke departementele kwessies na die regte partye en Lesotho-eweknieë herlei en het voorgestel om oor twee maande weer te vergader om die vordering te evalueer.

Hy het VL versoek om saam te werk om die bruto binnelandse produk van die provinsie te verhoog en erken dat landbou die enigste sektor is wat die ekonomie kan laat groei en meer werk kan skep. Bulwane het ’n pleidooi aan VL landbouers gerig om hul vaardighede te deel en nuwe toetreders tot landbou te help om hul voete te vind en toegang tot markte te kry om volhoubare, ekonomies lewensvatbare landbou-eenhede te hê.

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