The Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is hosting the first Commonage Summit in Bloemfontein today. This is to tackle challenges that commonage farmers face on a daily basis such as animal facilities and handling, among others.
The summit brings together commonage farmers, municipalities, financial institutions and various agricultural stakeholders at Monate Nate oa Phokeng Lodge in Bloemspruit. This is with the aim of sharing best practices and technologies for proper management and sustainable maintenance of commonages across the province.
According to the department’s spokesperson, Zimasa Leputla, these stakeholders will make inputs towards a commonage policy aimed at developing by-laws to regulate, control and protect the use of municipal land leased to commonage farmers.
“Current challenges facing commonage farmers relate to the lack of infrastructure, proper animal handling facilities, as well as improper fencing and watering facilities,” said Leputla.
An online Producer and Farmer Register FS-System for smallholder farmers in the province will be launched by MEC William Bulwane, to update statistics on local farmers.
“It is fundamental for the department to have reliable statistics and information about the farmers. This includes tracking the impact of agricultural support amongst beneficiaries so as to inform a better planning and decision making process,” explained Leputla.
According to the department through this system, a farmer can access relevant information on specific subject around their local area or district and advertise their produce for free including the agricultural implements that can be rented.
“Farmers without computer or smartphone will be assisted by the respective extension officers because this project is initiated to create user profiles for all farmers to be on government’s email domain,” said Leputla. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele