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Sorghum is produced mainly in the drier summer rainfall areas of Mpumalanga,

Limpopo, the Free State, North West and Gauteng.


In the years before deregulation the South African government was not only in-

volved in the marketing of agriculture through the control boards and schemes that

were instituted in terms of the Marketing Act, but also intervened in other areas in

order to assist producers in the country in times of crisis and address bottlenecks

in the agricultural industry.

Each such event that concerned agriculture in general is mentioned below. Those

that were more industry specific are included later in the perspective on the indus-

try concerned.

1973 Drought aid

Because of the severe drought fromOctober 1972 to February 1973, many producers

could not plant summer crops, feed or cash crops that season. The crops of many

of the producers who did manage to plant were seriously damaged by the drought.

SAMPI realised the effect of the drought on the producers and held a mass meet-

ing at Wolmaransstad on 9 January 1973, at which the Minister of Agriculture, Mr

Hendrik Schoeman, was also present. The critical position of the producers was

clear from the fact that about 1 300 producers attended the meeting.

At the meeting SAMPI submitted five proposals to the minister to help to alleviate

the financial position of the producers. This included that the funds in the Stabili-

sation Fund (see Chapter 2) be paid out to the producers as a final payment, that

specific actions with respect to the selling price of maize and the export of maize

be made, and that producers receive a reprieve for the repayment of their produc-

tion debt from co-operatives.

Not long afterwards Minister Schoeman announced an aid programme for produc-

ers in the drought-ravaged areas. This contained various components, but prob-

ably the most important one for the grain producers was that co-operatives were

allowed to postpone certain producers’ payment of production debt by spreading

it over a period of four years. Qualifying producers could also apply for production

credit to establish crops in the subsequent season.

Jacobs Committee

In October 1978 the government appointed the so-called Jacobs Committee to

investigate the economic position of grain producers and agricultural financing

in general, and make recommendations in this regard. The committee was tasked

with specifically referring to the ever-increasing production costs, the growing

debt position of grain producers, return on capital, the extent to which existing

sources of financing provided in producers’ short, medium and long-term financ-

ing needs, and the role of agricultural co-operatives in the provision of financing

to producers.

In its report the committee supported the principle that production patterns had

to be determined by actual production costs and ruling producer prices, but was

not in favour of subsidies to producers to counteract rising production costs.

They were of the opinion that the agricultural sector not only had to produce

enough to provide South Africa’s growing population with food, but should also

produce for the export market.

The committee maintained that there were sufficient reasons to rethink measures

that could improve producers’ financial position in order to reinstate agriculture

on a sound and viable footing. They also recommended that the strategic impor-

tance of agriculture to attain the objective of self-sufficiency in particular had to

receive greater priority and that the government’s objectives in this regard had to

be spelled out clearly.

Among other things the committee concluded that the agricultural price policy

had to be reformulated, and that adjustments to the Land Bank’s policy on the