The uncertainty about private property rights, diminishing collateral value of land, poverty, food insecure communities, a population that is growing faster than the economy, security problems, and climate change all work together to create an atmosphere of negativity in South Africa.

This was according to the outgoing president of Agri SA, Pierre Vercueil, speaking about the challenges faced by the agricultural industry in his final presidential address at the Agri SA Virtual Congress 2021, on Thursday, 14 October.

Other matters Vercueil highlighted were land reform, ensuring the sustainability of agriculture through the protection of South Africa’s natural resources, as well as the industry’s social responsibility to the community.

He also referred to a number of bills currently before Parliament such as the Constitutional Amendment Bill to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

“We believe that private property rights and the willing buyer, willing seller principle is non-negotiable, and we believe that it is the cornerstone of economic growth, but over and above that we have to find some solutions [to the challenges].”

He stressed that it was vital not to create so much uncertainty in the country that “we export intellectual capital by way of emigration”.

It was therefore of the utmost importance to ask whether the broader structures of organised agriculture had the means and the will to support a vision that would result in inclusive economic growth, he said.

A country with a failed agriculture sector was a failed state Vercueil said, and added that farmers had the responsibility “to make things work”, and not to leave the implementation to those who do not have the knowledge and expertise to undertake the implementation on their behalf.

Jaco Minnaar was elected as the new president of Agri SA, while Phineas Gumede was re-elected as vice-president.

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