Farmer’s weekly, Denene Erasmus, 26 March 2015

A number of agriculture organisations in the Western Cape have established a unity forum “to bring about one voice for the collective interest” of the broader agriculture sector in the province.

According to a statement issued by the Western Cape Agriculture Forum (WCAF), this voluntary association of agricultural organisations and commodities active in the Western Cape, would seek to promote growth in the sector and seek consensus on national level regarding strategic issues within agriculture.

Organisations that have signed an agreement to participate in the forum include Agri Wes-Cape, Afasa, the National African Farmers’ Union (NAFU), VinPro, South African Table Grape Industry (SATI), Hortgro, the Red Meat Producers Organisation in the Western Cape, the National Wool Growers’ Association, the Milk Producers’ Organisation, Dried Fruit Technical Services, the Canning Fruit Producers’ Association and the Kaapland Pork Meat Producers’ Association.

Ismail Motala, chairperson of Afasa Western Cape, said the initiative showed that stakeholders within agriculture in the Western Cape can work together to develop the agricultural economy of the province.

“We are confident that all the members of the forum have a vision that will enhance the transformation of the agricultural economy in an inclusive manner,” he said in the statement.

This is not the first initiative in South Africa that seeks to bring about greater unity in the agriculture sector. In November 2012, major agriculture organisations in South Africa joined forces to establish the Agriculture Sector Unity Forum (ASUF).

According to the founders of ASUF, the main objective of ASUF was to work towards consensus among the various representative organisations on the main issues affecting the industry so that the sector would be able to negotiate collectively with government.

Members of ASUF were disappointed when one of the founding organisations, Agbiz, decided to withdraw from the forum, as reported in Farmer’s Weekly in July 2014.

At the time Agbiz explained its decision to withdraw in a statement, saying it’s decision was not due to “a vote of no-confidence or conflict on an issue of principle”, but rather that Agbiz believed that “functional unity at primary agriculture level needs to manifest itself stronger in greater structural unity in future”.

The Western Cape Agricultural Forum said that it was reserving a seat on the management committee for a representative of agricultural business in the province.