South Africa: Limited Funding Constrains Young Farmers

Limited access to funding and land, including bureaucracy, are among the key challenges facing young people in the agricultural sector.

These issues were raised on Monday by young farmers during a webinar on the role of youth in agriculture.

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), hosted a webinar which aimed to highlight the role that young people must play in the agricultural sector, and address issues of land reform and opportunities available for young people in terms of access to land, finance and access to markets.

The webinar also aimed to educate young people about the sector, giving senior officials from the department an opportunity to share existing government programmes to support young people in the sector.

Eradicating unemployment

A crop and livestock farmer from the Free State, Nkosana Mtambo, said while he wants to grow as a farmer, the small land he currently has is restricting him.

“The channels of getting land must be looked into because you have to get land with certain requirements, which some of us don’t have.

“We also struggle to get hold of officials within the provincial offices, and there must be a formula of communication within our agricultural sectors,” Mtambo said.

He insists that agriculture is the solution to unemployment in South Africa.

“We [farmers] are the people that can eradicate unemployment. If we can push hashtags like ‘one household, one food garden’, and if we bring back agriculture at schools at primary level, it will go a long way because agriculture is the solution,” Mtambo said.

He also challenged young farmers to be innovative.

“Funding is a need for young farmers, but one challenge is that you get funded once in a lifetime, whilst in farming, you need it consistently because farming is cyclical,” Mtambo said.

Echoing Mtambo’s sentiments, Poultry farmer Kamohele Bombe, 28, emphasised the need for young farmers to be innovative and come up with ways that can make farming easy and attractive.

“We need to be innovative. If you are an IT specialist, you can come up with an app to help young people to farm. We just need to be creative so that when we approach government [we have something to show], which makes things easier… . There are so many things that can be done,” said Bombe.