Yolande Stander and Michael Kimberley
EASTERN Cape farmers need to up their game to meet future global food production.
This was the message to about 40 farmers at Standard Bank's "Cutting Edge" provincial agricultural conference at the Boardwalk convention centre in Port Elizabeth.
Standard Bank's director of agricultural banking, Willie du Plessis, said farmers either need to go "bigger, better or bust" to meet the demand.
Africa was the last frontier for global food production and Eastern Cape farmers were at a crossroads to meet the challenge.
He said they should embrace the government's National Development Plan and look into Africa to meet the future global food production demand.
Du Plessis said interest rates were fairly low and likely to remain stagnant for the year ahead.
"That is a game changer. You need to be smart enough to anticipate it."
He said Africa offered vast tracts of land for the massive global food demand of the near future.
"Regardless if you have 300 heads of cattle or 3000, our message to you is that if you want to become a successful farmer you need to scale up your operations today."
A World Bank report released last week shows that many emerging markets export more farm products than the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.
Agricultural Business Chamber chief executive John Purchase said Africa had about half of the world's viable farmland but only a small percentage of it was being used.
"By the end of the century Africa and Asia will make up 81% of the global population. To feed these people is going to be a massive challenge."
He said numerous sustainable and green models were available to farmers who could expedite production.
"You should be looking at this. The culture of food is changing in the world and you can expect it to happen here. It needs to be addressed now," he said.
The potential for agricultural growth in Africa was massive with researchers expecting consumers to have major spending power within the next few years.
Purchase said by 2020 African consumers would be spending more than $1.4-trillion (R13-trillion), which opened the door to tremendous opportunities for the agricultural sector.