South African farming association Agri SA said on Thursday it welcomed the "considerable attention" now being given at government level to incidents of farm attacks which in many instances had seen the murder of farmers and their workers.
"Agri SA welcomes the condemnation of this serious crime by various government officials," Agri SA president Pierre Vercueil said in a statement.
"There seems to be a new wave of condemnation of farm attacks and widespread acknowledgement of this as a problem, adding new momentum to efforts at government level to find solutions in this regard. The test is ultimately whether government will act decisively and fully implement existing policy and the Rural Safety Strategy to combat farm attacks."
Parliament's portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform and rural development this week slammed recent attacks on four farms in the Hartbeespoort area in North West province, saying such incidents threatened food security, employment and the economy.
It however rejected suggestions that they might be racially motivated against white land owners, noting that both farmers and their mainly black workers had come under attack.
On Thursday Agri SA said South African Deputy President David Mabuza's announcement of a meeting scheduled for Friday with an inter-ministerial committee on land reform and agriculture on the recent increase in farm murders and violent attacks signalled the government's acknowledgement of the important role agriculture played in the economy.
On Wednesday Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the Normandien district after a double farm murder during the weekend, where he met the farming community.
“The importance of protecting farmers and farm workers as an asset for the country because of their contribution towards national stability, cannot be disputed," said Tommie Esterhuyse, chairperson of Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence for Rural Safety.
"To this end, Agri SA will work with the police to ensure full implementation of the Rural Safety Strategy and the creation of an agriculture-friendly reservist system. Agri SA has already held discussions with the police and looks forward to further cooperation within the agreed-upon task teams in this regard."