Access to finance, training key to building SA’s black farming community – Afgri

15th April 2019 By: African News Agency

Access to finance, training and entrepreneurship are critical to building South Africa's black farming community, agricultural services company Afgri's subsidiary Lemang Agricultural Services has said.

Lemang was specifically created to train, develop and mentor new era farmers and focuses on developing black farmers towards becoming full-scale commercial producers through financial assistance.

“With food security becoming an increasing concern for South Africa and the rest of the continent, it’s important that agribusinesses such as Afgri get behind our farmers, particularly black farmers wanting to take the next step into full commercialisation," Lemang Agricultural Services head Marion Shikwinya said. 

"With agriculture being the key driver of food security, Afgri is fully supportive of bringing a new generation of successful farmers into production to ensure the sector continues to thrive."

Shikwinya said some of the constraints faced by many new era farmers included the lack of access to affordable credit to finance their operations, including state-of-the-art equipment and other new technologies required to increase production and produce high-quality crops or livestock.

She said Lemang had trained and supported over 650 farmers in the past four years, in its previous capacity as Harvest Time Investments, resulting in over 18 400 hectares being planted, some 660 permanent jobs created and a total yield of 49 873 t. On average, farm income had tripled in cases where Lemang supported the farmer.

Operations manager Bankies Malan said another stumbling block for farmers was the lack of access to information and training.

“Agribusinesses such as ours have a huge role to play in ensuring our farmers are not only trained in the latest farming techniques but are also mentored and given relevant business skills. Knowing how to run a business is integral to growing a successful farming enterprise," Malan said.