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Mchunu lends support to agri-village concept

13:04 (GMT+2), Fri, 07 March 2014

By Robyn Joubert

Serious thought and extensive town planning needed to go into the concept of establishing agri-villages on KwaZulu-Natal farms before the first sod was turned, according to Utrecht Farmers’ Association chairperson Gerard Potgieter.

The idea of moving farmworkers and their families from farms to agri-villages can work, he added, “but it won’t work unless everyone involved sits around a table and plans it thoroughly.

“The agri-village is like a small town and needs services. It must be planned correctly by all role-players.”

However, the concept was unlikely to be supported by all. “Some people won’t want to live in an agri-village. They’ll want their land so they can run cattle and so forth,” said Potgieter, who recently discussed the issue with KZN premier Senzo Mchunu at a farmer/farm worker workshop in Utrecht.

In his state of the province address on 5 March, Mchunu said KZN needed to pay special attention to improving the living conditions of communities on commercial farms. The current situation, under which farm workers and their families were spread out across neighbouring farms, made it difficult for government to provide services such as water, housing, clinics, schools and cemeteries.

“These communities still live in modern day feudalism with little or no rights, including the right to a decent burial. The province will take the initiative to establish agri-villages with the assistance of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform,” said Mchunu.

Agri-villages would also free up more land for food production. “We need to ensure that every farm in KZN is functional and produces food in order to meet our goals of food security,” said Mchunu.

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