The theme of this year’s congress, ‘Trailblazers of Transformation’, highlighted Kwanalu’s 20 years at the forefront of transformation in agriculture and paid tribute to an organisation which rose out of the ashes of Apartheid by embracing the new South Africa 20 years ago.
“Looking back over the last 20 years, Kwanalu has positioned itself as the leading union for organised agriculture in KZN and leads the way nationally as a fully integrated, transformed and relevant organisation,” said CEO, Sandy La Marque, who has been at the helm of the Kwanalu since 1999.
Setting out her vision for the future, Sandy said: “The opportunity for the next 20 years is for Kwanalu and its members to continue being progressive, have sound policy positions, stand united and collectively work at raising the voice of agriculture in KZN and further afield.”
Andy Buchan, Kwanalu President credited the union’s success to “its principled approach to represent the collective interests of its members, and the pivotal role the past leaders have played in shaping Kwanalu into the credible organisation it epitomises today.”
Encouraging Kwanalu members and farmers in general to make a positive difference to South Africa as a whole, Andy concluded: “The strength of Kwanalu, and organised agriculture, is the combined efforts of each individual member.”
Award-winning journalist, anti-apartheid activist and political commentator, Max du Preez called farmers “the custodians of our soil and producers of our food” and spoke at length on the hugely topical issue of land reform. Max said that land displacement in SA is a historic fact and an emotional issue driven by pride, arguing that it is not about agriculture in the first place. For that reason, he stressed that an aggressive approach to government about land reform will only “back fire” on the agricultural industry; encouraging instead more talking and more strategising as a solution. Max added that the modern definition of land ownership has shifted away from being a status symbol and is now about producing food and providing employment.
“Farming has become a business – there is no place for emotion or nostalgia anymore,” Max said.
Agri SA President, Johannes Moller who also addressed congress, committed to renew Agri SA’s focus on implementing policies, facilitating change and ensuring transformation is implemented, in a sustainable manner, to ensure food security is a top priority.