The Head of the Department Mr Lucky Monareng has started a series of meetings with emerging farmers in all four Districts on Mpumalanga, with an aim to hear from the horses’ mouths on their challenges and concerns regarding the service rendered to them by the Department. Monareng met with emerging farmers from Gert Sibande District on 17 July 2018, after meeting Ehlanzeni District farmers on July 13th. A similar meeting took place on the 20 July 2018 in Middleburg with emerging farmers from the Nkangala District.
These engagements, according to Monareng, will benefit his Department in aligning its plans and priorities to the real needs of the farmers. “These interactions will also help improve the working relationship and ultimately the level of service delivery to farmers in general, no doubt about that. We have since realised that we cannot afford to plan, as a Department, without working with the people that we are planning for. So we want a new way of doing things,” said Monareng.
As expected, farmers poured their hearts out, voicing their concerns on issues including Government Nutrition Programme, Market Access, Illegal dumping sites and Allien invasive plants. They also requested the Department to assist with mentoring and training especially for Livestock Farmers, technical advises and regular capacity building workshops. Most farmers in the Gert Sibande District also raised concerns regarding fencing of grazing land, land for farmers who are on lease contracts, and Mechanization support for emerging farmers who are about to graduate into commercial farming. They also spoke of post-settlement support to Land Reform beneficiaries.
The farmers lauded the Department’s step of re-opening the former Marapyane and Elijah Mango Colleges into Farmer Training Centres. These farmer training centres are aimed at assisting emerging farmers with technical skills and the latest technology used in agriculture, targeting disadvantaged women and the youth who cannot afford to pursue studies to tertiary education. “Marapyane started operating earlier this year after MEC Shongwe relaunched it in December, and work is at an advanced stage to re-open the Elijah Mango as a farmer training centre soon”, added Monareng.