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Family farmers: Founders and custodians of civilisation - South Africa

“Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow.

The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.” – Daniel Webster (American statesman: 1782 – 1852).
After almost two centuries, this adage still rings true. Civilisation simply cannot exist without food, which is why the world will always need farmers. In fact, it is estimated that the world’s population will reach nearly 10 billion people by the year 2050. This means that we will have to produce almost twice the amount of food that we currently do while navigating the challenges of nutrition, poverty and unsustainable levels of mass migration that could potentially overburden urban centres and communities.
Family farmers occupy an estimated 70-80% of occupied farmland and produce more than 80% of the world’s food in value terms. Furthermore, family farmers are the foundation of small towns and anchor rural economies and communities. While producing nutritious food to those who live in cities, family farmers also provide much-needed employment to local communities and curb unsustainable levels of migration.
In light of these projections, the United Nations and its subsidiaries have realised that family farmers are in the best position to address these issues. However, they require the necessary support from governments, civil society and relevant legislative bodies to craft pro-family farming policies that are more sensitive to the realities that family farmers face daily. As a result, the United Nations Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028 (UNDFF) was launched on 29 May 2019 in Rome, Italy, and serves as the framework to promote the interests of family farmers.
The task ahead is enormous – we cannot expect family farmers to rise to the challenge of addressing some of the greatest global challenges if they are not able to practise their vocation in an environment that is safe and conducive to growth and continued production. That is why the Southern Africa Agri Initiative (Saai) has launched the Protection of Family Farmers Resolution (the resolution). This draft resolution condemns any form of violence, or incitement thereof, against family farmers and calls on all state parties to proactively monitor, inhibit and prevent crimes against family farmers.
Earlier this year, Dr Theo de Jager, board chairman of Saai, pointed out that violence against South African family farmers is unique in a number of ways. He said murders of family farmers are far more brutal than other murders committed in the country. The motives for these murders are mostly unknown, apart from their vocation that makes farmers more vulnerable in rural areas. The social and even political environment is ambivalent to these acts and in some instances the attacks are even encouraged and celebrated on social media. The youth are the future of family farming, and violence against family farmers also risks deterring future generations from rising to the challenge.
Saai will meet with representatives of foreign governments and farmers organisations from all over the world in the coming year with the goal of tabling the resolution at the UN General Assembly in September 2020.
We need to encourage a new generation of family farmers to rise to the challenge of feeding an ever-growing population, but we cannot expect this of them at the expense of their lives or those of their families. That is why we call on all family farmers, friends of family farmers and consumers to add their voice to the resolution at www.farmersresolution.org. Let us never forget our dependence on the cultivators of the earth, and the founders of our civilisation, and let us come together to help give family farmers the support and credit they deserve.

AFRIKAANS

Familieboere: Stigters en bewaarders van die beskawing

“Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.”– Daniel Webster (Amerikaanse staatsman, 1782 – 1852).
Na byna twee eeue geld hierdie gesegde vandag nog. Die beskawing kan eenvoudig nie sonder kos bestaan nie, en dit is hoekom die wêreld altyd boere sal nodig hê. Na raming sal die wêreldbevolking teen die jaar 2050 bykans 10 miljard mense wees. Dit beteken dat ons byna twee keer soveel voedsel as tans sal moet produseer te midde van die uitdagings van voeding, armoede en onvolhoubare vlakke van massamigrasie wat stedelike gebiede en gemeenskappe potensieel kan verswelg.
Familieboere beset ongeveer 70-80% van benutte plaasgrond en produseer meer as 80% van die wêreld se voedsel wat waarde betref. Verder is familieboere die grondslag van dorpies en die anker van landelike ekonomieë en gemeenskappe. Terwyl hulle voedsame voedsel vir stedelinge produseer, verskaf familieboere ook broodnodige werkgeleenthede aan plaaslike gemeenskappe en beteuel hulle onvolhoubare vlakke van migrasie.
In die lig van hierdie projeksies het die Verenigde Nasies en sy filiale besef dat familieboere in die beste posisie is om hierdie kwessies die hoof te bied. Hulle het egter die steun van regerings, die burgerlike samelewing en tersaaklike wetgewende liggame nodig om profamilie-boerderybeleide op te stel wat die werklikhede waarmee familieboere elke dag te doen kry, in groter mate in aanmerking neem. Gevolglik is die Verenigde Nasies se Dekade van Familieboerdery 2019-2028 (VNDFB) op 29 Mei 2019 in Rome, Italië, van stapel gestuur as raamwerk om die belange van familieboere te bevorder.
Die taak wat voorlê, is geweldig – ons kan nie van familieboere verwag om van die grootste wêrelduitdagings die hoof te bied as hulle nie hulle beroep kan beoefen in ’n omgewing wat veilig en bevorderlik vir groei en voortgesette produksie is nie. Dit is hoekom die Suider-Afrika Agri Inisiatief (Saai) die Resolusie oor die Beskerming van Familieboere (die resolusie) aangeneem het. Hierdie konsepresolusie veroordeel enige vorm van geweld, of aanstigting daarvan, teen familieboere en doen ’n beroep op alle staatspartye om misdade teen familieboere proaktief te monitor, teen te werk en te voorkom.
Vroeër vanjaar het dr Theo de Jager, direksievoorsitter van Saai, daarop gewys dat geweld teen Suid-Afrikaanse familieboere in verskeie opsigte uniek is. Hy het gesê moorde op familieboere is baie wreedaardiger as ander moorde in die land. Die motiewe vir hierdie moorde is meesal onbekend, afgesien van hul beroep wat boere in landelike gebiede kwesbaarder maak. Die sosiale en selfs politieke omgewing is onduidelik oor hierdie dade, en in sommige gevalle word die aanvalle selfs aangemoedig en verheerlik op sosiale media. Die jeug is die toekoms van familieboerdery, en geweld teen familieboere kan ook meebring dat toekomstige geslagte nie die uitdaging sal aanvaar nie.
Saai gaan in die komende jaar met verteenwoordigers van buitelandse regerings en boereorganisasies van dwarsoor die wêreld vergader met die doel om die resolusie in September 2020 in die VN se Algemene Vergadering ter tafel te lê.
Ons moet ’n nuwe geslag familieboere aanmoedig om die uitdaging te aanvaar om ’n steeds groeiende bevolking te voed, maar ons kan dit nie van hulle verwag ten koste van hulle eie lewens en dié van hulle familie nie. Dit is hoekom ons ’n beroep op alle familieboere, vriende van familieboere en verbruikers doen om hulle steun aan die resolusie toe te sê by www.farmersresolution.org. Laat ons nooit vergeet dat ons van die landbouers van die aarde, en die stigters van ons beskawing, afhanklik is nie en laat ons saamstaan om aan familieboere die ondersteuning en krediet te help bied wat hulle verdien.


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