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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Training farmers is crucial

Farmer Jeremy Ridl says education and mentorship of emerging farmers is lacking.

The Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation’s Inclusive Growth Forum has made a plea to mayors, as well as provincial and national government, to create a partnership with the nongovernmental organisation in building a core of future farmers as a key programme, aimed at developing local economies.

Taking delegates through a set of resolutions on agriculture, KwaZulu-Natal farmer Jeremy Ridl said education and mentorship of emerging farmers was lacking.

“This is especially true for land reform beneficiaries,” said Ridl.

Key stumbling blocks to the empowerment of land reform beneficiaries were land acquisition, lack of funding and financial stability.

“Access to finance, water and water rights, environmental sustainability and climate change are some of the challenges,” he said.

Ongoing support and funding of technical youth agricultural training programmes linked to emerging farmers was “crucial”.

Ridl said: “Accessing government funding for the acquisition of land and farmer support is important if we are to level the playing field.

“Initiatives such as the local Winterton College, where aspirants farmers are given experience on local farms under the guidance of an established farmer and academics – exposing them to all aspects of the agricultural supply chain – can go a long way in making a difference.”

Government’s role, he said, should be “more involved in coordinating efforts and initiatives in the public and private sector”.

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