Editors Note

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About one thing there is no doubt: it takes a tremendous amount of guts to farm. Of course, it takes more than that—foresight, intelligence, knowledge, skill, diplomacy, and business acumen are quite helpful characteristics too—but without the basic qualities of courage, endurance, and a certain kind of faith, farmers would quit the land for more comfortable occupations. However, time and time again, farmers win through the tough times and reap the rewards, as nature relents and drops one set of tricks in preparation for another.

The citrus industry is a case in point. Last year, it looked like South Africa’s most lucrative fruit sector was heading down the slippery slope. Now, things are looking up again in a big way, with citrus black spot close to being lifted from quarantine. We celebrate this opportunity and wish South Africa’s citrus growers every success as markets continue to open up for them.

Of course, in today’s complicated global network of supply chains, farmers would be nowhere without the professionalism and expertise of other players in the value chain. Of these, one of the most important constituencies is the packing sector, who are responsible for ensuring that the produce cultivated by farmers with such care is sorted and packed in such a way that it doesn’t cause consumers dismay. The look of the fruit on the shelf or the plate is what determine’s the nation’s reputation. Some of our packing companies have very interesting stories to tell—find out more in our packing section this issue.

Naturally, the conversation around land and the constitution remains very much on point. The public is very much concerned, with the Parliamentary Review Committee on the Amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution (dealing with expropriation without compensation (EWC)) receiving over 700 000 written submissions by 15 June. Weighing in on the matter, Citrus Growers Association CEO Justin Chadwick wrote as follows in his newsletter of 29 June:

“The Constitution of a country is the glue that binds all who live in it together. Amendments to the Constitution should not be done lightly. That does not mean that amendments should not be considered – for example, the abolishment of the right to have slaves was a good amendment to the US Constitution—but they should be only considered if absolutely necessary. The US Constitution has been amended 27 times in 231 years (the first 10 amendments are contained in the Bill of Rights that restrict the powers of government). The 22-year-old South African Constitution has already had seventeen amendments.

“The review Committee is now busy with hearings. Looking at snippets from hearings that have taken place so far it seems that most have been held in a cordial manner, with all South Africans sitting together listening to the views of other delegates. This is the important part—no matter what an individual’s views on this issue are—it is important that all views are expressed, and all attending the hearings must listen to all these views, and not be restricted by their own views. This process has the opportunity to be nation building or to be divisive. If it is conducted in a responsible manner and if all taking part do so in a spirit of hearing all views and finding a solution to complex issues—it will result in a better South Africa. If divisive elements, emotional rhetoric and political point scoring take centre stage — the opportunity will be lost. Time for strong leadership.”

We could not agree more. At the same time, it is necessary to take a broad and general view of things. Our previous issue included an article strongly pitched against expropriation in favour of private ownership; this issue, we consider whether the agricultural system itself, favouring as it does big established players over small farmers, may not be the elephant in the room.

greg@capemedia.co.za

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