On 23 February this year I casually advised readers of this blog that if the if the desire to go farming in the Republic of the Congo becomes irresistible, then my advice is to move in great numbers in a show of force and power that will make the savages of Africa think twice before they pounce.
Well it now appears that 1300 South African farmers have the irresistible urge to go farming in the fertile soil of Central Africa. This mass action was obviously not instigated by anything I said on this humble abode. I’m quite sure of that! (View previous posting -- Beware of the Congo).
On the accompanying image of Africa, I’ve taken the liberty of pointing out the exact location of the Republic of the Congo where this farming is being planned. It is not in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as many people believe to be.
Here follows the latest news on this project:
SA farmers eyeing Congo
Cape Town - Leaders in the agricultural sector who this week returned from a week-long visit to the Congo (Brazzaville) to investigate farming opportunities, cannot stop talking about their experience.
What's more, it appears that 1 300 South African farmers have indicated they want more information with a view to establishing a possible stake in the Congo.
André Botha, president of Agri-Gauteng and chairperson of the Congo Agriculture organisation, says government officials, inhabitants and even officials of the South African embassy in the Congo are doing everything in their power to attract South African farmers to the central African country.
"The reason is obvious," says Botha. The Congolese "are currently importing all their food, paying R90 for 30 eggs, R97 for 1.4 kg of chicken and no less than $35 for a litre of fresh milk."
He says more than 10m hectares of land is available that the government wants to put to good use to ensure food security.
But not all of the land is being earmarked for SA farmers.
Most of the country's own farmers are subsistence farmers who do not have the ability to provide for the country and its neighbouring states' food requirements.
Botha says if the soil quality and the rainfall of some 1 500mm a year are taken into account, sustainable farming could take place on a 1 000ha farm.
He expects SA farmers would be able to farm with grains, soya and sugar cane, vegetables, dairy and poultry products. There are also the options of coffee and cocoa production.
He considers it possible for farmers to establish themselves there permanently, but this would require sacrifices. The colloquial language is French, there is no social network or restaurants as one finds in South Africa, and although the roads are navigable, they are mostly gravel.
On the positive side there is no crime, there is political stability, cellphone reception is better than in many areas of South Africa and DStv is available.
Medical services, particularly in the case of malaria and fevers, is good but the efficacy of veterinary services is questionable.
As far as transport is concerned there are daily flights between South Africa and the Congo, and transport contractors regularly carry road freight between the two countries, and rail transport in the Congo is efficient.
Botha says he expects there to be South African farmers wanting to start satellite farming in the Congo who will afford young recent graduates opportunities to act as farm foremen on Congo farms and thus get a foot in the door.
He says the government would not be prescriptive in allocating farms to prospective farmers, and would grant everyone conforming with the selection criteria opportunities to prove themselves.
Botha notes that negotiations with the Congolese government are at a sensitive stage and it is hoped that the contract with the government will be signed by May 10.