The new Minister of Agriculture in the Western Cape, Ivan Meyer, has a clear vision of what he must achieve in his term and he is ready to learn. “You must teach me,” he said to delegates at the opening of the Hortgro Technical Symposium 2019 in Somerset West.
“Agriculture is the backbone of this province. We need to provide structured support to farmers, make rural safety a reality and create further access to markets for ag-products. I want everyone in the Western Cape to have a bumper sticker that reads: ‘I am agriculture’,” he said.
Meyer said that every time farmer in South Africa is murdered his heart bleeds. “Agriculture helps the Western Cape to earn R21 billion and 17% of the workforce is involved in agriculture. Every time you eat, you have to recognise that a farmer somewhere produced what is on your plate. Agriculture is important for all of us, and therefore farm security is a priority for me.” Meyer said that a rural security committee is in the pipeline to address the safety of farming and rural communities.
High on his priority list is the training of young people and the development of agri institutions such as Elsenburg College. About international trade wars, Meyer pointed out that there is an opportunity for agriculture. “Don’t waste a good crisis,” he said about the US-China trade war and Brexit. We have to strengthen current markets and secure new ones. We want to export our produce and grow the economy.”
Finally, Meyer addressed climate change. “Climate change is real and it is serious. We have to be ready and innovate. We all have a responsibility to protect our environment.” Meyer called on farmers to invite him to their farms so that the government and agriculture can work together to solve problems.