The minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Thoko Didiza, today announced funding allocations to mitigate food security in the country through a R1.2 billion cash injection for small-scale farmers.
Applications for relief are scheduled to open on Wednesday 8th April and will close on the 22nd April 2020.
The minister gave details of the allocation of funding set aside by government to increase food production by supporting financially distressed small-scale farmers. Through a virtual briefing which took place at the Tshedimosetso House in Pretoria, Didiza announced that a clear and strict set of criteria would be taken into account in order to identify beneficiaries.
“The department has ring-fenced about R 1.2 billion for assistance that will mainly target financially distressed small-scale farmers,” she says.
“About R 400 million (of R1.2 billion) has been allocated to farmers within the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) programme and the remainder will be channelled towards all the farmers that are mainly within the poultry, livestock and vegetable commodity sectors,” she adds.
The specific commodity sectors that will benefit from the remaining R0.8 billion funding, are:
- poultry: day-old chicks, point of lay chickens, feed, medication and sawdust;
- other livestock: feed and medication; and
- vegetables: seedlings, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and soil correction.
Other commodity sectors will be evaluated on a case by case basis, as the Department continuously monitors the impact of covid-19 on the sector at large.
Farmers who meet the following criteria qualify for the funds:
- South African citizens who have been actively farming for a minimum of 12 months and are currently in the production season or cycle.
- They must be registered on the farmer register, commodity database or provincial database. Those who are not on the farmer register will be registered to benefit.
- Communal farmers qualify.
- Smallholder farmers must have an annual turnover of between R50 000 and R1 million.
- The adjudication will prioritise women (50%), youth (40%) and people with disabilities (6%).
In her address the Minister highlighted that women, youth and people with disabilities would be at the forefront of the selection process. She added that all beneficiaries will be required to be registered with SARS, or to register as part of the application process.
She further clarified that this response should be regarded as an urgent reaction to the current dilemma that the country is facing.
“This is not a comprehensive support, but an intervention with regards to the challenge that the country is facing,” she says sternly.
Didiza specified certain grounds for exclusion from the funding:
- Mechanisation, infrastructure and overhead costs will not be supported.
- Farmers who are preparing for the 2020 summer production season will not be supported. The aim is to provide immediate to near-term support to smallholder farmers currently affected by covid-19.
- Farmers who are currently receiving support through other programmes of government and its entities will not be supported.
- Funds will not be allocated for the payment for debts.
Only South African citizens who have been farming for no less than a period of 12 months will benefit from the program, although Didiza mentioned that non-South Africans with permanent residence and who otherwise meet the criteria, can qualify.
“These must be farmers who are currently in production, and not somebody who is still thinking about farming,” she emphasised.
On panic buying…
Despite constant warnings from government, South Africans are still panic buying. Minister Didiza has once more reassured citizens that there will still be enough food on the shelves of your local supermarket.
“There is no need for panic buying, as such buying only creates artificial surges in our food supply chain. And unfortunately, in some instances this may result in unnecessary food hikes. We therefore would ask our people to actually bear with us and ensure that they buy the necessary stuff at particular times and not to hoard stuff that they don’t need.”
- The applications for this funding will be open from 8 April 2020 and will close on 22 April 2020. No late entries will be accepted. Application forms will be available on 8 April 2020 on the departmental website – dalrrd.gov.za and through national, provincial, district and local offices of both the national Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and Provincial Departments of Agriculture. Applications will be lodged electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org or submitted to the offices as outlined.