More than 15 000 small-scale farmers can expect good news from the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development (DALRRD) soon, as they are informed of the success of their covid-19 government support applications.
These farmers made the cut out of 55 155 applicants for support inputs announced on 26 April to ensure they keep producing during the winter season, for the sake of local food security amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Only about 27% of the applicants were successful, announced Thoko Didiza, minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development this afternoon. The names of the 15 036 approved smallholders and farmers from communal areas will be made public as soon as they have been personally informed of their success.
About R500 million’s worth of support inputs will be distributed among them, based on the size of their farming operation, Didiza said.
Of the successful applicants, 7 696 are livestock farmers, 2 942 produce vegetables, 2 252 poultry, 610 other winter crops and 65 fruit.
Most successful applicants (3 153) are from the Nort West province, followed by KwaZulu-Natal (2 812), Limpopo (1994), Eastern Cape (1 622), Western Cape (1 587), Northern Cape (1 435), Gauteng (1 045), Mpumalanga (999) and the Free State (389). 36% of the successful farmers are female.
The support inputs are part of an intervention totalling R1,2 billion focusing on small-scale farmers. Of this, R400 million is going to 146 farmers who are leasing government land as part of the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) programme, and a further R200 million for the provision of disposable and cloth masks to protect farmworkers.
An additional 42 extension officers were also appointed to help support farmers with the application process and to verify applications.
According to Didiza a majority of the applicants didn’t make the minimum threshold for the intervention, because their turnovers were below the specified margin of between R20 000 and R1 million per year.
Many were also disqualified because they did not have sufficient recordkeeping systems in place to be able to prove their turnover, while some couldn’t provide convincing proof that they were indeed active producers.
“We did notice that there were some challenges that our farmers have, and we must address those. Particularly the recordkeeping. A majority of the farmers had difficulty in actually confirming the turnover that they derive out of their farming activities,” Didiza said.
DALLRD will therefore be working with farmer organisations and other government to help these farmers develop their businesses.
“I would like to add, the farmers that have not been approved, that they shouldn’t lose hope. We will be working with them with other departmental interventions, particularly in our provinces and at national level,” she said.