BEE focus switches to indivuals

[caption id="attachment_36654" align="alignright" width="405"] WHITE GOLD: Attending the SA Mohair Growers' Association annual general congress are, from left, Beaufort West farmer Jackson Mjoli, Jansenville farmer AB Hobson, and Beaufort West farmer Buyisile de Bruin. Picture: CINDY PRELLER[/caption]

EMPOWERMENT and establishing successful black commercial farmers remain important goals for the mohair industry.

The Mohair Empowerment Trust has shifted its focus to empowering individual black farmers, while still offering training to farm workers and emerging farmers.

This was the message from Mohair Empowerment Trust chairman AB Hobson at the SA Mohair Growers' Association (Samga) congress in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

Hobson said the trust was involved with two training centres, two communal projects and 13 black commercial farming projects.

However, the focus of the trust had shifted to establishing successful black commercial farmers, so limiting the scope to single beneficiaries who receive focused mentorship, goats and support on existing BEE farm land.

Samga general manager Justin Coetzee said the association did not want to create a culture of handouts and therefore the farmers would pay back the cost of the goats over a five-year period, after which the animals would belong to the farmers.

The funding the trust would receive for these animals would be invested back into buying the next beneficiary's livestock, Coetzee said. Trust development officer Bongani Ndhlovu said he was looking forward 15 years when commercial and emerging farmers would farm next to each other as a team.

Pro-Agri chairman Charl Senekal, who gave the opening address at the Samga congress and set the transformation tone early on, said training and developmental work were vital to sustainable farming and the future.

Senekal, one of the biggest private-sector farmers in the country, farms sugar in KwaZulu-Natal and employs 1200 workers.

He believes that by providing adequate training, farmers will ensure that the workers they employ are worth paying high wages.

In the Pongolo district where he farms, there are several successful, small-scale black commercial farmers and they not only improve productivity in the sector, but help the country as a whole.

Senekal said commercial farmers should not see the government as an enemy, and vice-versa. "We need to work on this relationship."

On land reform, Senekal said it was such a massive task for the government to buy land for the estimated 179 000 claims that it would take billions in government funding over the next 107 years to complete. - Cindy Preller