Move to empower emerging farmers

THE Gauteng department of agriculture and rural development is toying with the idea of establishing a school for emerging farmers to help arm them with skills.

This was revealed by MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza yesterday when she reiterated the importance of empowering emerging farmers and uplifting communities.

Speaking in Johannesburg, Mayathula-Khoza said her department had looked at the possibility of opening a farming school on the West Rand.

"Since 2009 we wanted to establish an agricultural college on the West Rand but because of lack of a financial resources we have not been able to do so. Commercial farmers play an important role in skills development and training because we have limited resources," Mayathula-Khoza said.

She warned would-be farmers that farming "requires passion and hard work".

She also highlighted the challenge her department faced in relation to goods coming into the country.

"I spoke to the chief executive of AgriSA and he explained that we import a lot to this country.

"A country such as Italy buys (animal) skin from us, use it to make bags and shoes and then sell it to us at a higher price. There should be balance and we must also ensure that we import quality products."

Mayathula-Khoza also said they were striving for a litter-free Gauteng, but admitted they faced a serious challenge.

"We want a litter-free Gauteng. We are not proud of what we see in our province because of littering.

"But the problem sometimes is the mindset of our people because you often see someone throwing a cigarette butt out of his car window or throwing the orange peels on the ground. You sometimes feel like reprimanding that person because it makes the whole city dirty."

She also touched on the toll roads, saying the department "is not comfortable" with the issue". "Together with the department of roads and transport, we have looked at the tolling system and we are not happy or comfortable with the proposed toll fees. Our concern is that it will adversely affect those transporting our goods."