Friday, June 20, 2008

Zuma: Farming must change

South Africa needs to talk about the structure of commercial agriculture, ANC president Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

"Simply put, we have to talk about how best we will use the land to feed the nation and to reduce dependency on food imports," he said at a Financial Times dinner in Johannesburg.

He said the agricultural sector had continued to develop in a manner characterised by a growing concentration of ownership and farm size, under-utilisation of vast tracts of land, capital intensity, job-shedding and the casualisation of labour.

To deal with rising food prices, he said: "We must get people to work the land in the countryside, through effective rural development programmes.

"We are not a producer of oil and but we have land that can be cultivated. We have a robust programme of land usage for food production, which can help us achieve food and job security."

He said there would be no major policy shifts when a new administration takes over next year.

"We say this as our policies are already in existence, they were adopted at the 52nd national conference in Polokwane.

"We cannot rule out fine-tuning and strengthening some of the policy areas, but in essence, the direction was charted in Polokwane."

However, he said there was a lot of room for improvement regarding implementation, which meant that civil servants were committed, ready and willing to effectively implement the policies of the government of the day.

"The public servants will need to be awake to the needs of a ruling party that will require a visible and tangible implementation of its policies."

He said SA had the potential for sustainable economic growth, coupled with job creation.

"We have a perfect idea of where we want to take the country over the next five years. Economic transformation is a key priority, The central and most pressing challenges we face are unemployment, poverty and inequality."

He said the most effective weapon in the campaign against poverty was the creation of decent work, which required faster economic growth. - Sapa

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