Farming and agriculture have been a largely white male-dominated space for the past few decades. However, this is quickly changing as more black male and female farmers break their way into the industry.
At Dairy Group, this social-economic movement is deeply important to us. We see farmers like Jeanet Rikhotso from Fort Hare Dairy Trust in the Eastern Cape succeed and thrive in the dairy industry. Watch her video here on our Homegrown page. We want to ensure that all our farmers have equal opportunity and that we all work together to achieve a common goal, which is supplying milk and dairy to the nation.
The State of the Nation
This shift is not only occurring in South Africa but has also become a priority for the United States. Under the Biden administration, the U.S. has given black farmers a $5 billion relief fund. In America, 1.3% of farmers are black and only 1% of the land is black-owned. This number is not all too different in South Africa, where only 4% of farming land is owned by black South Africans. This is stark in comparison to the 72% of land owned by white farmers.
With a high number of nearly 13,000 black farmers in the agriculture industry in South Africa, we see that President Cyril Ramaphosa was not wrong in saying we “must dispel the stereotype that only white farmers are commercially successful in South Africa, and that black farmers are perpetually ‘emerging’.”
While there is still work to be done, black farmers are doing their part in contributing positively to the agriculture industry. The issue here is the ease with which the market can be broken into and the need for the latest farming technologies to allow black-owned farms to be competitive in the market.
What Is Being Done?
The South African government has set up a fund to help black farmers and investors gain access to land, capital and labour. The agricultural industry has been in recession since before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the industry has been negatively impacted by the pandemic and the implementation of strict lockdown regulations.
To boost the role of black farmers in the commercial agriculture industry, the government has rolled out a R5 billion fund which aims to reduce the barriers to entry for black farmers and allow them to build competitive farms.
The fund will be split into two installments. The first is a R1 billion grant that will be used to fund black farmers and the remaining R4 billion will be provided via debt over the next three years. This will help to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and encourage black farmers to become competitive forces in the industry.
Unfortunately, this fund is mainly aimed at providing support to the poultry, pork, and beef industries, but that doesn’t mean that dairy farming won’t benefit from this influx of capital. When one of us thrives, we all thrive.
How Dairy Group Is Contributing
Dairy Group aims to empower and uplift the dairy farmers of South Africa through our committed and targeted efforts. Not only do we ensure that we are complying to South African labour standards by embracing a level 5 B-BBEE rating, but we also aim to uphold international standards of labour as declared by the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations.
We support and heed the government’s call to action as we focus on black empowerment and sustainability. At the heart of dairy are the farmers who make all of this possible. We want to show them our appreciation and continue to nurture their efforts.