This newsletter comes to you midway through our series of District Road Shows currently being held throughout the province. Over the course of last week, and during this week, Kwanalu President, Andy Buchan and CEO, Sandy La Marque, are travelling to meet with you, our members, in a series of ten district meetings covering all “four corners” of KZN.
These meetings serve as an opportunity for Andy and Sandy to meet, one on one, with members in order to communicate policy issues and strategies, currently under the spotlight at Kwanalu, and for you to provide us with much valued feedback. It is also an opportunity for the team to meet with members they have not yet met – an opportunity both Andy and Sandy have enjoyed and look forward to doing so during the course of this week.
The Road Show officially kicked off with its first meeting on Wednesday, 28th February in the iLembe district, on the North Coast of KZN, where farmers from the Darnall and Glendhow Farmer’s Associations gathered surrounded by sprawling sugarcane fields.
The second meeting took the team westwards to the Southern Drakensberg, to the picturesque town of Underberg in the Harry Gwala district, where farmers from the Underberg, Highflats Ixopo, Mount Currie, Ingwe and Zwartberg Farmer’s Associations met with Andy and Sandy at the Underberg Farmers Club, just a stone’s throw away from Sani Pass.
From there the Kwanalu “caravan” headed once again for the ocean, this time to the Ugu district on the KZN South Coast. A large group of farmers, some whom had travelled from far, including the Alfred County, Dumisa and District; Hibberdene/ Mtwalume, Izotsha, Southern KZN Banana Association, Oribi Flats, Paddock and Plains, Umzimkulu Cane Planters, Umzumbe and Umdoni Farmer’s Associations gathered at the Paddock Farmer’s Club, inland from Port Shepstone.
Commitment to organized agriculture, farmers’ associations tackling transformation and a focus on the younger generation of farmers, as future leaders critical to the influence of organized agriculture, were strong underlying themes throughout all three meetings.
“It was encouraging to hear about initiatives people are implementing to drive change and to hear about how farmers look for solutions to the many challenges they face,” said Sandy.
Members also voiced their support for the strategic direction, to the numerous challenges facing the agricultural sector in 2018 and beyond, outlined by Sandy in her presentations. Farmers expressed their commitment to backing the union financially, for the implementation of a new and more aggressive strategic plan as proposed by the national body, AgriSA, in response to recent developments on the issue of the future of land in the country.
Also discussed, were some of the main concerns plaguing farmers, namely the proposed implementation of the new National Minimum Wage, safety and security of farmers and their employees and the topical issue of expropriation with compensation. A series of question and answer sessions were held, and provided for enlightening insight and a deeper understanding of farmers, giving Kwanalu much-valued feedback.
Andy called on farmers to work together and to assist wherever they could to drive the process of organized agriculture.
“The easy way to support is financial; the hardest, yet most valuable, is with your time. We need your feedback to make strategic decisions that are in your best interests. Farmers are the most important element in organized agriculture; with your participation, we can take your input to the highest level in the country,” said Andy.
He also placed emphasis on youth in agriculture, encouraging them to get involved in organized structures, asking them what they were doing to secure a future for themselves in the country.
“We need young, level-headed, strategic thinkers to bring tactical focus to organized agriculture. We ask you to stand up and to get involved on issues, such as labour and land, affecting you and your future,” said Andy.