Small-scale farmers march for land and support

The group of small-scale farmers protested outside the Kouga Municipality offices. Photo supplied

The small-scale farmers need common grazing lands to be opened by the municipality so that they can raise their livestock.

Small-scale farmers in Jeffery’s Bay marched to the Kouga Municipality demanding support from the local government and land for farming. Small-scale farmers have been pleading for years to the municipality to provide them with land so that their livestock can have a place to graze, according to Siyabonga Modikoe from the Khanyisa Education and Development Trust.

The municipality says it is still in the process of acquiring land. “Kouga has been helping the farmers to acquire land. Three pieces of municipal land have thus far been identified – at Kruisfontein, Milton and Patensie – for use by small-scale farmers. The lease contracts are currently being finalised,” said Kouga’s Local Economic Development and Tourism Portfolio Councillor, Frances Baxter.

One of the demands of the farmers is the closure of the pound where stray livestock is kept. They say small-scale farmers who happen to be black are targeted while the livestock of white commercial farmers is seldom confiscated.

“The livestock of white commercial farmers also stray in the road but it is not taken but rather it is taken back to their owners,” said Modikoe.

Clr Baxter denied the allegation saying that they do not discriminate against the owner of the livestock they impound. “No, it is not true. If complaints are received about stray animals, the pound is notified to collect them regardless of who they belong to,” he said.

Modikoe further said that the municipality does not give them access to the pound register to see whose livestock is impounded more often.

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Small-scale farmers who spoke to Elitsha complained about the lack of access to land for farming.

Nosipho Mengu has been a farmer for more than 5 years after she inherited the livestock from her father when he passed away. Mengu said that she was forced to sell most of the animals due to not having land to expand on to.

“I had six cows and a lot of pigs but now I’m left with one cow and two pigs because I had to sell the rest since I don’t have space for them,” said Mengu.

Another farmer, Mvuyisi Mtshota, said that they formed a cooperative with nine other farmers which has benefited them in taking care of livestock. Mshota said he has been a farmer for over 10 years and successfully managed herds in that time.

“There is no land specifically for our livestock to graze on even though there is land the municipality could allocate to us. We currently have more than 100 cows, close to 200 goats and around 50 pigs,” said Mtshota.

The farmers state that they want access to communal land for their livestock and that the municipality should provide infrastructure for piggeries. Also in their memorandum of demands is the grievance that, despite the drought that has gripped the area, they have not received drought relief from the municipality.

The farmers have given the municipality seven days to respond to their demands. “The petition was acknowledged and signed so they said they will discuss our demands in a meeting then get back to us within 7 days,” said Modikoe.

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