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Wheels come off farming project

Author: Sipho Masombuka and Bobby Jordan

President Jacob Zuma handed over 85 new tractors to the Masibuyele Emasimini (back to the fields) project in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal in June 2010 to encourage small-scale farming.

But, in Mpumalanga, of the 32 new tractors allocated to the DrJS Moroka municipality only six are still running.

The rest are idle because of lack of maintenance.

Tractor drivers in Machiding, who battle to get diesel fuel and broken tractors repaired, went on strike early this month because, they say, they have not been paid.

In Mmametlhake and Marapyane, more than 30 farmers missed planting 65ha of sunflower seeds this season because 17 of the tractors allocated to their area were either broken or did not have fuel.

The African Farmers’ Association of SA said a total of 185000ha of once-productive, redistributed land in KwaZulu-Natal was standing idle as farmers waited to benefit from the project.

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