The KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) on Thursday admitted that crime was a huge concern for everyone, including farmers, and that safety and security was not just a single-day initiative, but required a proactive response.

Kwanalu was responding to threats by some farmers to halt food production to force the government to protect them after the recent killing of farmers.

The farmers who made the comments anonymously in an article published in the Daily News’s sister paper, The Mercury, on Thursday, said they demanded that the government protect them and called for the government to act now or be forced to act on empty stomachs.

Khaye Nkwanyana, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture spokesperson, said on Thursday that the threats were irresponsible, and described them as something that would affect the farmers the same way it would affect all South Africans.

“Unfortunately the reality is that they would also go hungry. Their businesses would collapse. The boycotting of food produce is not the answer,” he said.

Nkwanyana said the farmers had chosen to isolate themselves from the government.

“Farmers must come closer to the government and perhaps they would get answers to the problems they have.

“The killing of farmers is a criminal issue that affects everyone in this country. They must engage with us instead of making threats,” he said.

Responding to the threats, Kwanalu chief executive Sandy la Marque said: “Communities across KZN are concerned about crime.”

The union had been working with police to find solutions to the killing of farmers.

“We believe that we have formed good working relationships at local and provincial levels to deal with safety, security and crime issues,” she said.

She said government programmes such as the SAPS Rural Safety Strategy provided for effective implementation with specific attention to rural crime, crime trends and sector policy.

“We work within the rural safety strategy,” she added.

She said it was against this backdrop of crime and the economic climate that the agricultural profession had become less popular.

“Being in agriculture is not seen as a career of choice,” she said.

By: Daily News