ESTIE DE VILLIERS, ASSISTENT-REDAKTEUR: SA GRAAN/GRAIN
Augustus is Vrouemaand, met 9 Augustus ‘n spesiale openbare vakansiedag om Nasionale Vrouedag te herdenk.
In die lig hiervan het SA Graan/Grain besluit om met vrouens uit verskillende sektore van landbou te gaan gesels om te hoor wat hulle siening van landbou in Suid-Afrika is; wat hulle as uitdagings ervaar en watter kwessies volgens hulle aangespreek moet word.
Voedselsekerheid is veral hoog bo-aan almal se prioriteitslys.
“South Africa has the potential to be a major player in the international market, but there are many local policy issues that need to be addressed first. This can be achieved if the focus of all the key roleplayers in the value chain is on the same goals,” said Dr Marinda Visser (manager: Industry Services, Grain SA) during SA Graan/Grain’s conversation with her on how she sees the current state of agriculture in South Africa.
“Working together to obtain optimum food security and sustaining a thriving industry which can compete on a global level, will benefit everyone.”
Challenges and how to address them
What challenges does she see in agriculture today?
“The industry needs more support from government, not just financially, but also in terms of policymaking and implementing. By keeping the channels open between the policymakers and the producers, the gateway for negotiation and cooperation is opened.
“Another challenge, especially for the grain industry, is research and development. There are not enough qualified individuals to take up the challenges facing the grain industry and there is a real risk of losing institutional memory if we do not start focusing on capacity building.
“Research is vital for the improvement of food security and competition and to attract future investors. More public funding should be allocated to research and development,” she said.
According to Dr Marinda agriculture plays a major role in the stability of a country.
“In South Africa food security within the grain industry is especially vital to sustaining the nation. I believe that if all key role-players remained focussed on that goal, the future of agriculture in this country would look very bright.”
The importance of food security
“Food security is very important. Without it there would be no political stability.
“Yet a bigger problem is affordability which falls within the government’s responsibility. We have the infrastructure and the producers to generate enough food to sustain the nation, but if the people are unable to afford it then it is of no use”.
Grain SA’s crucial role
According to Dr Marinda, commodity organisations such a Grain SA, have a crucial role to play in ensuring the growth and development of the grain industry.
“Grain is the staple diet of the majority of South Africans and therefore it is vital that organisations such as ours exist to ensure we produce enough to sustain the nation.
“We do this by providing information and training to producers, lobbying and influencing the government in respect of policymaking and enabling research to ensure a good quality and bountiful crop,” she said.
- Dr Marinda Visser started her career with the ARC as a researcher and plant pathologist.
- She then joined the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries where she was involved with primary production, food security, international market access for South African commodities and biosecurity regulations, trade negotiations and participating in international standard setting bodies.
- At the beginning of 2012 she joined Grain SA’s team as manager: Industry Services.