by Greg Penfold

Editor's Note

Greg P.jpg

It feels as though the agricultural sector is on the brink of tremendous change, which is reflected by numerous articles within this NAMPO issue of Harvest SA. Of course, change is always either for the better or for the worse. Many commentators have identified the ongoing land reform debate as having the potential to bring about catastrophically negative results.

The short version is that handing over land, with or without compensation, to would-be farmers lacking the capacity to succeed as farmers would be tantamount to cutting the agriculture industry’s throat. Only if new farmers receive the right support can they succeed. This includes not only the right sort of training, but also the financial support to ride out the tough times. Small-holder farmers are already going down precisely because their pockets are not deep enough, not because they don’t know how to farm. You can read different opinions on this topic in this issue.

Change of an entirely different sort is in the air, in the form of the rapidly evolving field of agritech. Drones, satellites, and Big Data are transforming agriculture in ways that would have been impossible to foresee in the past. Agritech holds out the promise of enabling farmers to become not only more productive but more climate resilient as well. Find out more about the future of farming in these pages.

Call for opinion: land reform is the most hotly debated topic in South Africa at the moment; one strongly expressed view on the matter can be read on page 54 and in the next edition, we would like to feature the counterargument. In the interests of a robust exchange of ideas, please email the editor with your views pro or contra.

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