1. Introduction

Agriculture continues to play an important role in South Africa. It provides employment and business opportunities to more than a million people. In addition, Agriculture represents a significant proportion of South African exports, and thus makes a valuable contribution towards generating foreign revenue for the Country.

The UDM is of the view that the role of Agriculture can be expanded even further. We believe that Agriculture can form part of a larger plan to kick-start the economy to create jobs and prosperity. Agriculture must play an integral part in Rural Revitalisation, in order to alleviate the widespread poverty and degradation which characterise most rural areas. The UDM believes that a concerted effort by Government to stimulate Agriculture will directly address the current unacceptable neglect of rural communities, to the extent that these areas represent a sort of “forgotten country” within the new democratic state. The poverty in this forgotten country has been compounded by the ANC Government since 1994, which has neglected development and alienated farmers, communities and Traditional Leaders alike. The most basic needs such as water, electricity, passable roads, schools, clinics and security have not been a priority for the ANC Government.

Matters have become even worse with the degradation of household food security in the country. Though household food security is not the sole responsibility of the agricultural sector, it is vital that the production of food is stimulated to fulfil the needs of a fast growing population.

Given the South Africa’s peculiarities, the UDM believes that the World Trade Organisation rules applied to developing countries preventing subsidies to farmers are unfair, whilst the USA, Europe, China and others subsidise their farmers to the tune of billions of dollars annually. In addition, the current Government fails to protect the South African market from the dumping of these subsidised products her. The interests of South African farmers must be put first.

The ANC has wrongly and unconstitutionally biased its development and housing subsidies towards the urban communities. The error of current Government thinking has accelerated the human flood into cities from rural areas. This results in strain on urban infrastructure and services as the desperate rural poor flock into cities only to find themselves unemployed and trapped in squatter camps. The result is that poverty has increased under the ANC.

The UDM proposes to reverse this situation through a concerted effort to stimulate Agriculture and related businesses, and using these as a platform for development in rural areas. We are convinced that the creation of the necessary infrastructure will create jobs and encourage the growth of more employment-creating agricultural-related enterprises, to ensure that the migration to urban areas is slowed down. In line with UDM Land Policy the distribution of land must be accelerated to encourage people to return to, or remain in, rural areas and start productive enterprises there.

2. Mission statement

The UDM’s mission is to stimulate the growth of a vibrant Agricultural sector to create jobs, revitalise rural areas, increase household food security and alleviate poverty by encouraging commercial agriculture and related businesses and massive infrastructure development.

3. Objectives

A UDM Government is committed to address:
3.1. Infrastructure development;
3.2. Agriculture Support Services and Research;
3.3. Sustainable use of resources;
3.4. Land;
3.5. Promotion of agri-related business;
3.6. Rural Security;
3.7. Labour issues;
3.8. Disaster Management.

4. UDM solutions

4.1. Infrastructure development

In line with UDM Economic Policy, physical and socio-economic infrastructure will be expanded and properly maintained. Combined with an effective local governance system this will ensure efficient service delivery. Physical and socio-economic infrastructure will be built on a larger scale focussing on houses, dams, clinics, schools, roads, airports, harbours as well as services to open new business opportunities, particularly tourist services. It is vital that infrastructure supporting agricultural activity is developed, such as irrigation schemes which have been proven to be successful in the past. These infrastructure programmes, managed by Public Works, and coordinating the efforts of other government departments, will aim to create much needed employment in the short term. These programmes will inject funding and incentives into infrastructure with the express aim of encouraging the growth of labour intensive small business related to agricultural activities. Special attention will be given to creating jobs and opportunities for women and young people in rural areas, who currently constitute the greatest number of the desperately poor.

Revised business-government relationships in expanding physical and social infrastructure development should be explored, for example in the building of roads. Mechanisms must be considered to engage private sector capacity in partnership with the public sector. There is a great potential to create jobs through emerging small businesses in such infrastructure programmes.

Infrastructure development through Planned Sustainable Development programmes must aim to create productive and safe environments. This means that the infrastructure programmes required to make a community economically and socially viable must be developed in conjunction with the community.

Without tangible infrastructure in rural areas, development and the growth of agriculture will be impossible.

4.2. Agriculture support services

The UDM will promote a role for Government founded on innovation and enterprise development. Government must be a dynamic agricultural support service provider that stimulates rapid sustainable agricultural growth and economic development within the framework of resource conservation and equitable land administration.

The UDM believes that Government should establish One-Stop Agricultural Service Centres in rural areas. Specific services that a UDM Government will promote through these One-Stop Agricultural Service Centres are:

4.2.1. Agricultural research and the transfer of appropriate technology

Agricultural research should focus on more productive farming techniques, improving the quality and resilience of crops and livestock, as well as the development and transfer of appropriate agricultural technology. Throughout the intention should be to encourage the optimal and sustainable use of resources.

Research will be broadened and will include aspects such as the effects of climate change as well as new technologies to improve agricultural products. Research into Genetically Modified (GM) foods and their effects will be enhanced, as well as more research into appropriate technologies to enhance indigenous agricultural activities.

In addition, research must be conducted on new farming products for which markets exist and for which the correct conditions exist for such to be produced in South Africa.

Lastly, marketing research must be conducted to ensure that South African products are marketed properly.

4.2.2. Incentives for emerging commercial farmers

It is important for Government and the Private Sector to join hands and provide incentives for emerging commercial farmers. Such incentives must form a package that include physical incentives such as seed and fertiliser, financial incentives such as preferential tax and lending rates and joint ventures between Government or the Private Sector and emerging commercial farmers, to assist them to get their enterprises onto a sound footing.

The UDM believes will encourage established farmers to play an important role by donating a small portion of their time to these One-Stop Centres in order to provide mentoring to emerging commercial farmers.

4.2.3. Veterinary services
The UDM is committed to promoting Animal Health Protection, Veterinary Public Health Services and Analytical Laboratories and related services for disease surveillance and control.

4.2.4. Agricultural engineering services
The UDM is committed to providing professional engineering and soil conservation engineering services, as well as services related to promoting efficient water use.

In addition, a UDM Government will provide advice and services with regard to the improvement of irrigation drainage, animal health facilities and mechanisation.

4.2.5. Project and business planning
One-Stop Centres will assist emerging and established farmers with project and business planning to ensure that viable enterprises are established. The intention is to ensure that farmers are assisted to create a business plan that takes into account every aspect of the enterprise from start-up, to financing and marketing.

4.2.6. Financial services
One-Stop Centres will assist farmers to access all forms of finance available to them in one location. These centres will therefore be able to provide a farmer with the complete range of financing options from Commercial Banks, to the Land Bank as well as other private and public financing options.

5. Sustainable use of resources
A UDM Government will promote sustainable resource use through community-based management, education and training programmes.

Government must assist those presently accessing agricultural land in communal areas to make better productive use of their land.

A UDM Government will establish a comprehensive database for land use planning and the efficient and sustainable use of agricultural resources throughout South Africa. The intention is to ensure that agricultural and other developments are sustainable and environmentally responsible, as well as ensuring that viable farmer settlement occurs.

The UDM will therefore ensure closer cooperation between the Departments of Agriculture, Water Affairs and Forestry, as well as Environmental Affairs and Tourism, under the auspices of the Presidential Council on Planned Sustainable Development (as proposed in UDM Economic Policy).

6. Land

The UDM is committed to the constitutionally provided right to land, as well as the protection of ownership. The UDM recognises the ability of land to create wealth. The UDM proposes Planned Sustainable Development programmes that intend to provide communities with the necessary infrastructure to make them economically and socially viable.

The equitable ownership of land by South Africans is vital for the success of such Planned Sustainable Development programmes, which will also mean that Government acquires, or assist communities to acquire, land for development and agricultural enterprise.

Land tenure and deeds of ownership is furthermore a key to giving people access to finance. This means that people are directly empowered to enter the formal finance and banking sector and obtain credit, with their property serving as collateral. It is vital to recognise that gaining access to land for collateral must first be preceded by infrastructure development or upgrading, since the lack or disrepair of infrastructure (especially in rural areas) negatively affects the value of the land.

The UDM proposes to accelerate the sale of suitable state land to encourage local ownership for emerging and small commercial farmers to create jobs. Government must also make use of the opportunity where farmers are willing to sell their land to facilitate access for emerging farmers.

The UDM further proposes that recognition must be given to all forms of tenure, including communal tenure systems practiced in rural communities. We believe that there is indeed enough room within the framework of the law that provision can be made for individual title deeds within a communal land tenure system. However, the UDM proposes that the current system must be reviewed in consultation with the affected communities and Traditional Leaders.

7. Promotion of agri-related business

A UDM Government will constantly engage in, or encourage, research into alternative enterprises that can provide sustainable growth and development in agriculture-related businesses. Processing, packaging, storage, transport and equipment maintenance are all viable business opportunities associated with agriculture. Special attention will be paid to small commercial farmer development, including programmes such as agri-villages and agri-forestry.

8. Rural security

The UDM proposes that Special Units should become specifically involved in Rural Safety through the retraining of reserve forces and other Government security agencies to provide safety in rural areas. It is also necessary to involve these Special Units in enhanced border control activities that will curb the incidence of stock-theft and smuggling.

9. Labour issues

Government must promote reasonable employment agreements and proper participative management, in line with labour legislation.

10. Disaster management

Government must increase its response to natural and man-made disasters that affect rural and agricultural communities. Currently a wide range of disasters such as hailstorms, flooding, drought, insect plagues and disease wreak havoc on crops, livestock and infrastructure and the ANC Government is slow to assist with the rebuilding of affected communities.

A UDM Government will ensure that infrastructure is restored as quickly as possible following a disaster and that compensation is provided equitably and within the shortest possible period, recognising that delays lead to massive financial losses, and endanger the job security of thousands of farm workers.