Agriculture is the foundation of any economy. Our farmers should be treasured.
When I traveled by train from Hong Kong to Beijing at the turn of the century, I was amazed that there was very little land lying fallow. From the edge of the track till as far as the eye could see, the land was cultivated from lake to mountaintop.
South Africa has the potential to be an agricultural powerhouse, producing enough quality food to feed our entire population well, and have enough spare to sell to the rest of the world. We have so much land that is going unused. Is it that hard to invest in it? We have 30% unemployment right now, many people are on welfare, and there are growing calls for land distribution. How many of our people would choose to farm instead of live unemployed in urban squatter camps?
Not everyone wants to be a farmer. Even people with land often don’t utilise it. We can identify the land that is not being used productively. Then we can find out which of our citizens would actually like to farm. Once that is done it is very possible to distribute the unused land in workable sized farms to each citizen who wants to farm, on condition that they make the land productive or face losing it. This form of distribution is completely non racial.
The government should be subsidising farm produce here just as the US, Europe and China do. Its a no brainer. By subsidising farm produce, you maximise the utilisation of land and increase production of food. Increasing the supply brings down the cost of food (controlling inflation) and therefor also brings down the cost of labour relative to foreign currency, which makes our other industries like manufacturing more competitive and viable as exporters.
Because farms can be large and require labour, the subsidisation of farm produce should be only on condition that all farm workers are paid a good wage. In doing so, we guarantee money flows into all communities, generating demand which in turn supports all producers. More equality also means more peaceful and stable communities, which encourages investment, and raises the quality of life.
How else can you stimulate demand by spreading capital into communities, control inflation, improve workers lives and make their produce more competitive internationally in one simple process? By subsidising farm produce, you’re effectively subsidising the whole economy.
Lets do what they do overseas and give farmers a guaranteed fee for each cow, sheep, ton of wheat, olive oil etc that they produce. Lets get our farms and our people working.
The NDP will not lead us to prosperity unless it includes the subsidisation of farm produce.
What has the NDP achieved? Our growth is near 0%, unemployment is at 30% and our population is increasing. If we don’t make the country work, we will begin to fight for an ever decreasing share to survive. We need to get the economy going and people working productively so we can generate inclusive wealth and make sure all our people eat well.