Reaching out to Isolated Communities
Gerrit van Rensburg, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development today, (22 January 2014), visited far flung and isolated farming communities in the Bitterfontein area; the most northern part of the Provence, situated on the West Coast.
Small-scale farmers told Van Rensburg their greatest frustration was a lack of land, together with training on managing larger farming operations. Van Rensburg said the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is responsible for providing land for new farmers, and he will discuss this with the National Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform.
Van Rensburg urged the communities to approach his Department with their agricultural training needs. Van Rensburg told school children at Molsvlei that he can provide agricultural study bursaries for matriculants with mathematics on higher grade. “I can also guarantee you a job at my Department on successful completion of your studies” Van Rensburg promised the Molsvlei School a food garden within the next two weeks.
Commercial farmers expressed their concern regarding animal diseases and made allegations of non-compliance of animal health technicians from the Northern Cape regarding the treatment and prevention of some of these diseases. Many of the Bitterfontein farmers migrate between the two Provinces; the Northern Cape having a summer rainfall season and the Western Cape a winter rainfall season. Van Rensburg promised to discuss this with the Northern Cape authorities. “We need to work together also across provincial borders in order to protect and manage animal health issues”.