June 2022

Conforming versus qeustioning

Central to agricultural development is the false contradiction that there are only two approaches: Conforming to the government’s approach or risk being perceived as uncommitted to the development imperative of South African agriculture. This faultline often plots government and industry as well as stakeholders within industries against each other. In this untold complexity, so much goodwill, potential partnerships and, most critically, the opportunity to change the slugging growth trajectory of rural areas is lost.

Over the past two decades, the government has initiated various agricultural development policy renewals – the latest being the Agricultural and Agro-processing Master Plan (AAMP). Concurrently, significant extension capacity has been established within provincial agricultural departments to support an almost exhaustive list of development projects that have essentially not reached their potential or have completely failed. Frustratingly, over time, participating in these policy renewal processes and working with government was equated to being committed to development, albeit the fact that these initiatives have had limited success.