More than 75 000 up-and-coming farmers are set to benefit from the Presidential Employment Stimulus initiative announced by Thoko Didiza, the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development last night.
This is above and beyond the support already given to subsistence farmers who have suffered financial losses in the wake of the protracted covid-19 pandemic. Successful applications will be supported with farming input vouchers of up to R9 000 each, depending on the size of the farmers’ current operation as physically verified on site by government officials.
Food For Mzansi can confirm that applications will be open for a two-week period starting on Thursday, 10 December 2020.
Applications will be via cell phones and a special USSD code, which works on a similar basis as checking your airtime balance. To apply, farmers simply have to type *134*4536# on their mobile devices.
Didiza says the initiative is aimed at sustaining and increasing employment in the agricultural sector. Through government support, subsistence farmers from across Mzansi will be able to retain self-employment in the sector while supporting food value chains.
During the implementation of this programme, Didiza’s department will employ unemployed Narysec youth and unemployed agricultural graduates to work as verification officers. This is said to create in excess of 6 000 temporary jobs.
“We are making this call a week before the official opening of the application process, so that all interested and qualifying subsistence producers can a have a week to prepare themselves,” says Didiza. “This is a free application process and application forms will be accessible from your cell phone once you enter the USSD code. Application forms will be available in all 11 official languages.”
However, the minister warns that applications will work on a first come, first serve basis per province. The department expects to receive approximately 150 000 applications via the USSD system.
Do you meet the qualifying criteria?
The following minimum qualifying criteria will apply:
- applicants should be 18 years old or older, have a South African ID, and not be employed by government;
- applications should currently be actively involved in agricultural production;
- those who have received support from the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development in the current financial year will not qualify;
- only one application per household will be permitted; and
- only the following specific commodities will be supported: vegetables, grains (maize and soybean), sugarcane, cotton, poultry and livestock.
The support will target vulnerable individuals and groups, and aims to support 50% women, 40% youth and 6% farmers with disabilities. Child-headed households, farm-dwellers, farm workers and military veterans will also be prioritised for support through this initiative and are encouraged to apply. Subsistence farmers must note that the type and quantities of support provided will also be limited to the commodity applied for.