Agriculture is the backbone of existence, says Didiza

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By Lerato Matheka

South Africa’s Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza, while officiating the third annual Mzansi Young Farmers Indaba, boldly stated that agriculture is the backbone of human existence due to its centrality.

Organised by Food for Mzansi, the indaba took place at Lavender Kontrei Market in Pretoria North, under the theme “Going back to the farm,” the 2024 Indaba attracted over 1500 attendees, including young and old farmers, experts, people in agribusiness, and delegations from different SADC countries.

Food for Mzansi is a South African digital platform focused on agricultural news, information, and storytelling. It aims to provide a comprehensive source of news and resources for farmers, agribusinesses, policymakers, and consumers interested in agriculture and food production in South Africa.

Among the many exhibitors, South African wine took centre stage with a display of nine black-owned wine brands.

MEC of Agriculture in the North West, Desbo Mohobo, at the same event, noted that young farmers are the future of food production, not only in South Africa or the continent but in the world.

She pointed out that with the devastating effects of climate change, there is a need for increased food production.

“Food is now expensive; we are relying on you to move swiftly in food production,” she said.

Minister Didiza then challenged African farmers to seize the opportunity of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) and stop neglecting the continent’s rich opportunities for production, selling, and collaboration.

“Most of us are looking to export our produce to the first world countries, neglecting the collaboration opportunities, not only in trading but producing food for the continent.”

Didiza thanked the Food For Mzansi group for putting young South African farmers on a pedestal, saying the company has exposed a lot of young farmers who might have been doing their good work somewhere in the corner of the country without being celebrated, “… but through their online media, they have unearthed a lot of people who might not have been known to exist in the country.”

“This event has removed the myth that young people are not interested in the agriculture sector, and I think that is good. The Food for Mzansi group has created a platform where young farmers can be exposed to one another, share experiences and learn from one another, but at the same time appreciate all the support systems that are available and accessible to farmers.”

The minister noted that the event may have been created to provide opportunities for farmers, but over the years has exposed different opportunities including marketing, logistics, and other non-production activities.

She encouraged farmers to take this seriously if they wish to succeed.

“This is a sector that can make you a lot of money, but only on the condition that you work hard and always strive to improve quality.”

Didiza challenged those who would otherwise not want to ‘get their hands dirty’ to look at other agribusiness opportunities within the value chain of the sector.

She noted that with the face of innovation and technology, agriculture has evolved into an exciting sector that accommodates different approaches, including producing without the use of dirt.

Didiza stressed the importance of agriculture in the well-being of a human being. She stressed that regardless of what pandemics or climate disasters may hit the world, farmers are remembered for providing food.

“They only remember us when there is trouble, but the reality is, we are not a seasonal sector; we are the backbone of existence, from food security to job creation.”

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