Updated: Jul 6

On 31 May 2022, Eastern Cape farmers marched to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) offices in Bisho to handover a Memorandum of Grievances. The Memorandum was handed over to the MEC of the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development Agrarian Reform (DRDARR), Mrs Nonkqubela Pieters.

The march was organised by a young activist Luyanda Shushu who is a farmer and a leader of the National Plas Farmers Association (NPFA). Farmers from various farmers association came together in solidarity including farmers were from the Cannabis and Hemp Association Industrialization, Indigenous , Forestry Development Association, Organic Farmers, Mohair Producers and Black Farmers Association and Bee Farmers.

Some of the grievances included:

  1. Non-existent land reform in South Africa

  2. Forever delayed farmer support

  3. Lack of infrastructure support

  4. Closing of regional offices without consultation of farmers

  5. Inflated prices for poor service due to PFMA and tendering system

  6. Demand for a working Farmer Production Support Unit (FSPU) with at least three mechanisation centres in every Municipality

  7. We need clear deadlines for implementation of support programmes

  8. Frequent changes of MEC of Agriculture and Rural Development disrupts farmer support programmes

  9. Market Access

  10. Farm security and the problem of stock theft

  11. Agricultural Disaster Management

  12. EIA and Water Rights

Inyanda Community News interviewed Luyanda to find out more about the farmers grievances:

Question: Why did you see the need to initiate and organize Eastern Cape Farmers March?

Mr. Shushu: As a farmer myself I know and understand the frustration of the farmers. I concluded that there is a need to organise a march for the farmers because we have common challenges and I had an opportunity to attend national leaders meeting together with other farmers from other provinces. We found that we have common motive and common idea to rectify these issues before it's too late.

Question: Do you believe that the MEC will be able to assist the farmers with the challenges listed in the memorandum of demands submitted?

Mr. Shushu: We have identified that the MEC can assist us as farmers because she's in the centre of all the departments that farmers have challenges with, including the Department of Land and Reform who could assist the farmers to get their farmers’ title deeds.

When farmers apply for grant finding they want title deeds or lease agreements which is difficult for farmers to produce because they don't have and they have been applying with no luck or response and assistance from the department.

Farmers find it very difficult to apply for secure lending because of the compliance challenges.

Also farmers need assistance with applying for state land that is available for them to utilize.

Question: Are there any other challenges that you feel farmers need assistance from the DRDARR?

Mr. Shushu: Yes I feel like farmers lack of information from the Department of Rural and African Reform because the officials don't meet the farmers halfway when it comes to completing the grant forms or follow proper procedures. Sometimes they don't give farmers seedlings or even pay a visit to their farms.

That is why it is important for us as farmers and leaders to meet with the MEC and officials from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development as well as the Department of Water and Sanitation affairs in one room in order to address our challenges.

Water is another challenge for our farmers and we trust that this time the MEC and the Department of Water and Sanitation will come to the party and attend to the farmers challenges.

Question: Did the MEC agreed to meet with farmers leaders?

Mr. Shushu: Yes the MEC agreed to engage with us and believes that we need to come to consensus on the other challenges that the farmers have. The MEÇ signed and accepted our memorandum and we are hoping to receive the feedback within seven working days.

Editor’s Note: At the time of going to print, the MEC had not responded to farmers Memorandum of Demands.

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