Gauteng Smallholder October 2015 - Page 3

GAUTENG COMMENT, by Pete Bower MAGAZINE HOW TO MAKE YOUR PLOT PROFITABLE Vol 16 No 10 October 2015 PUBLISHED BY Bowford Publications (Pty) Ltd Established 1985 (Reg No 2004/019727/07) PO Box 14648, Bredell 1623 Tel: 011 979-5088 or 076 176-7392 Fax: 086 602-3882 e-mail: website: PUBLISHER & EDITOR Pete Bower RESEARCH EDITOR Vanessa Bower GRAPHIC DESIGN Michelle Urquhart ADVERTISEMENT SALES Call 011 979-5088 ADVERTISING RATES (All Rates Full Colour, incl VAT) Full Page - R6800 Half Page - R4200 Quarter P - R2340 1/8 page - R1240 Smaller sizes: R95 per col cm (Minimum size - 4 col cm) (Black only: colour rate less 40%) Booking discounts (Payment lumpsum in advance) 3 insertions - less 10% 6 insertions - less 15% (other payment and discount options are available) Circulation Area More than 19 000 copies distributed free through outlets in the Agricultural Smallholding settlements of Gauteng and adjoining provinces. Also available by mail and online. By Mail To receive the Smallholder by mail send us a supply of stamped, selfaddressed A4 envelopes. Or, subscribe for only R210 per year. See coupon in this edition. Online Copyright Title and contents protected by copyright. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in any form whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publisher. Disclaimer While every care is taken to ensure the accuracy of the information in this journal, neither the Editor nor the Publisher can be held responsible for damages or consequences of any errors or omissions. The Publisher does not stand warranty for the performance of any article or service mentioned in this journal, whether in an advertisement or elsewhere. FRONT COVER . A calf licks Not a loving act: her mother’s coat to extract salt, a much-needed mineral for all livestock on dry winter grazing. Back to nature I n a move that is being hailed as a step in the right direction by many, the South African Dept of Agriculture has banned the commercial sale of genetically modified potatoes. The logic behind this move escapes us, given that South Africa has for many years allowed and indeed encouraged the wholesale planting of genetically modified maize. Both potatoes and maize are starchy staple foodstuffs, constituting a significant part of the diets of most South Africans so why one should be banned and the other encouraged seems a bit irrational. Nevertheless, for the anti-GM lobby the move is seen as a victory and some are asking whether other GM crops will be similarly outlawed. For the fact is that there is something of a backlash movement developing worldwide against anything that seeks to tamper with “natural” crops and growing methods. Indeed, having gone so far down the line of allowing GM maize production, the South African government finds itself out of step with international sentiment and is actually now caught between a rock and a hard place. Given the amount of investment in GM crops and the chemicals used to keep them healthy and weed-free (such as the dreaded glyphosate pesticides) the government could hardly now do a volte face and ban them. What it could do, however, is take seriously the moves overseas to ban the wholesale use of pesticides that are now being revealed as being carcinogenic and toxic in many, many ways not originally intended. Removing these poisons from the food production system would be seen by many as doing something good for the wellbeing of the citizens of this country. For, in truth, many of the supposed benefits of genetically modified crops in agriculture have not been realised. They were supposed to yield more than conventional crops. They haven't. They were supposed to lead to a reduction in the use of chemical inputs. They haven't. In fact they've resulted in an increase in the use of toxic substances such as glyphosate. In truth the GM debate tends to generate more heat than light with many of those both for and against not fully understanding the science behind genetic modification, or the costs, benefits and dangers involved, or how genetic modification differs from longstanding hybridisation. So the GM debate is hardly cut and dried, and is only one of a number of issues that the government needs to bear in mind when overseeing South Africa's agriculture and the food security of her people. In one of these fields at least the government is making noteworthy progress, albeit slowly, and that's in its plans to encourage smallholder agriculture among the previously disadvantaged. While this requires the expropriation of large tracts of land, a process that is slow and painful, and politically fraught in itself, the establishment on their own lands of thousands of otherwise impoverished citizens will go a long way towards upliftment of families and communities. Provided, of course, the establishment of these families goes hand in hand with the provision of the necessary infrastructural help in the form of material such as fencing, piping and other inputs, as well as help with marketing and distribution and, most crucially of all, suitable training and education. In the overall scheme of things, it's easy to buy up an old farm, chop it up into smaller bits and dish these out to families that have added their names to a waiting list. It's much more difficult to identify the needs of these new farmers, both in terms of infrastructure but also in terms of education e ь