Farmworkers’ children should join sector by choice, not circumstances, says Didiza
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Pretoria - Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza on Monday led a stakeholder engagement with female farmworkers and non-governmental organisations representing farmworkers in Cederberg municipality, Western Cape, to commemorate the annual World Food Day.
“The issue of tenure security remains critical for farmworkers. We will address in a deliberate sense land for housing for farmworkers. We need to allocate land for agricultural development to farmworkers so that they can also participate effectively in the agricultural sector meaningfully,” she told the gathering, which was also attended by her deputy Mcebisi Skwatsha and Western Cape government officials.
“Yes, issues of eviction continue to be a challenge. We need to ensure that we address the security of tenure while regulating evictions. Empowerment of farmworkers is beyond tenure security but social and economic development remains key.”
She added that the issue of capacity-building for farmworkers remained important, particularly for their children.
“We want to break the cycle of poverty. We want to ensure that children of farmworkers come into the sector by choice, not by circumstance,” said Didiza.
World Food Day highlights the plight of 870 million undernourished people in the world. Most of them live in rural areas where their main source of income is agriculture. Global warming and the biofuel boom are threatening to push the number of hunger-afflicted people even higher.
The conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN proclaimed World Food Day in 1979 to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. The day marks the date of the founding of FAO in 1945.
On Monday, Didiza emphasised that her interaction with farmworkers should not be perceived as a campaign gimmick ahead of the upcoming November 1 polls.
“The truth is October is a special month for agriculture. Elections are important in the calendar of our constitutional democracy and us as citizens. This is a franchise we fought for so that all of us as South Africans can choose a government of our choice,” she said.
“We have been amongst you, campaigning and indicating our plans and what we will do for you. It is you who are the final arbiters who have a final word to choose who you want. At the same time, government does not stop because elections are at our doorstep. No. Government must operate until the new government is sworn in and takes the ropes.”