Johannesburg - South African farmers who lease land at Malolo in the Democratic Republic of Congo are not in a desperate situation, the Congo Farmers' Association, which manages the farmers' interests in the country, said on Wednesday.
"All but one visited their families in SA over the Christmas break, and that [the remaining] farmer's family visited him in Congo," said association secretary Fred Daly.
He was responding to reports in the Rapport newspaper that farmers in Malolo were in a desperate situation and they could not return to South Africa.
Daly said some farmers were being financed as a collective "in a transparent and well-governed transaction" by a reputable South African agricultural business.
He said those outside the collective were finding it more difficult to obtain finance.
"None of our members want to give up or abandon their farms at Malolo, despite the many challenges. There is a long list of interested farmers from SA who are eager to grasp the opportunity to join the project."
He said the majority of the 28 farmers who entered into lease agreements on land on Malolo had not started their farming operations yet.
The first two harvests did not meet expectations due to various factors, such as the worst drought in 37 years, infestation by insects unknown to them, and management problems.
"Though the first harvest was disappointing, it was still the biggest volume of locally produced maize the Congo had ever seen."