Agri SA is alarmed by the announcement of a 9,6% increase in the national minimum wage. Any increase in costs will further strain already hard-pressed farmers. As the sector battles to contain the costs associated with loadshedding, crumbling infrastructure and high input costs, this increase will further undermine food security and put much-needed jobs on the line.
The increase continues a trend of above-inflation increases for more than a decade. Whereas farmers were previously in a position to absorb these increases thanks to the sustained growth in a number of agricultural industries, that period is now over. The sector faces extreme headwinds, which on their own threaten food security in the coming years.
Notwithstanding the challenges that the sector faces, Agri SA made a submission proposing a CPI minus 2% increase in the national minimum wage. This proposal recognised the financial pressure on workers in this inflationary environment, but also addressed the reality of farmers’ inability to continue to absorb above-inflation increases. That government has ignored this balanced position, is a devastating blow not only for the sector but also for the consumers who will eventually see this increase reflected in their food expenditure.
Agri SA and its members are committed to preserving the country’s food security. For this reason, the organisation will continue to engage government on the critical challenges facing the sector. Agri SA’s hope is that its warnings will be heeded in future, so that farmers, workers, and consumers don’t pay the price for policy that undermines the sustainability of the sector and the nation’s food security.