South Africa takes stock of its farmers

11 October 2011

KwaZulu-Natal is set to become the first of South Africa’s nine provinces to establish an accurate register of all its agricultural producers.

This follows a call to roll out a national farmer registration process aimed at establishing a central database to overcome data shortfalls and baseline information challenges on farms and farmers that interact with the government.

Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Director-General Langa Zita said that a regularly maintained Farmer Register would help the department and other government institutions to measure the sector’s performance accurately, and make informed decisions on priority settings and resource allocation.

“Currently, challenges facing the department are in delivering and monitoring on land redistribution, tenure, and restitution targets,” Zita said in a statement last week. “Also, the development of black South African farmers cannot be properly measured owing to a lack of statistics on these small-scale farmers.”

Informed policy development

The census-styled Farmer Register initiative, which will start in the Mgungundlovu District Municipality and eventually cover the entire country, is expected to contribute to informed policy development and improved planning, decision-making and service delivery across the entire agricultural sector.

A team of eight department representatives and 100 contracted field workers are already in KwaZulu-Natal and will be visiting each farm and farmer to capture information on ownership, demographics, employment, production capacity and the type of products produced per geographical area.

Local agricultural officers

The data collectors will be in the company of local agricultural extension officers who are familiar with producers.

The completion of the Farmer Register will improve communication with farmers in terms outbreaks of diseases, measures that can be taken, and existing opportunities, and make it easier to estimate the impact of damage at any given time.

SAinfo reporter

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