Eastern Cape Farmers’ Association information sharing and workshop
The Eastern Cape Farmers’ Association (ECFA) held a two-day information sharing and strategy In King Williams Town on 30 and 31 January2017. Although not the first, such meetings involving ECFA and the main associations from the six districts are relatively rare. The workshop was sponsored The Agricultural Research and Development Institute with support from the Programme to Support Pro-poor Policy Development (PSPPD) and the European Union.
Mr Nqameni who is the chairperson of ECFA gave the welcoming remarks and expressed the purpose of the gathering. He stressed that the purpose of having such a meeting “is to give a clear direction to the members about the organisation and added that the purpose of the meeting was for the farmers to equip each other through knowledge sharing (ukwabelana ngolwazi) so that we know how to lead the sector”.
Organisations such as ECFA have a critical role to play in the Eastern Cape. ECFA lobbies on behalf of farmers, in particular those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. For government, regional farmers’ associations serve as a communications link between itself and farmers. The challenge however is that most black farmers’ associations have little if any resources. The leaders of these organisations work for free, must finance their activities out of their own pockets, and at best have borrowed office space. Much of the workshop focused on the question, how can ECFA and the district-based associations build up their resources in order to achieve their potential? However, the workshop mostly focused on policy issues, such as tenure insecurity in the former Transkei and Ciskei, and the draft Eastern Cape Agricultural Transformation Strategy.