The minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Thoko Didiza, has addressed concerns over the adequacy of the support allocated for subsistence producers through the presidential employment stimulus initiative.
Speaking at a media briefing at Tshedimosetso House in Hatfield, Pretoria earlier today Didiza said she is convinced that the monetary value of the support, ranging from R1 000 to R9 000 per subsistence farmer, was more than enough.
This follows concerns flagged by agricultural role players. Food For Mzansi earlier reported that from 10 to 22 December 2020 struggling subsistence producers would be invited to apply for government support.
“I am comfortable that the allocated amounts will reach a number of people,” the minister said. “The range and the size in which these subsistence farmers produce, in large measure, this package fits in with what they usually need. Some actually are able to go on as low as R2 000 for them to be able to produce.”
Didiza said the programme seeks to address the needs of the most vulnerable. This was to ensure “they don’t leave their household operations and end up in the cities and in the informal settlements because they have nothing to make a living on.”
Farmers with one hectare or less
Adding to this was Dr Jemina Moeng, acting deputy director general responsible for food security in the department. She said, “Based on other departmental subsistence programmes, R9 000 has even stretched it beyond individuals. In this case we want to support individual households and we will be considering farmers with one hectare and less.”
Didiza stressed that many farmers’ production was disrupted by the protracted covid-19 pandemic and that subsistence and household producers remain the most affected.
“It is these producers who create work against the plight of food insecurity at household level. These are producers who do not earn any other income, but their small patches of land remain their only source of employment and livelihoods.
“It is them, that currently our agricultural policies do not address their needs adequately. It is these producers who may be defined as un-bankable by our financial sector and yet their role is important in providing food security for many families in our country,” Didiza said.
The support will target vulnerable individuals and groups, and aims to support 50% of women, 40% youth and 6% persons with disabilities. Child-headed households, farm-dwellers, farmworkers and military veterans will also be prioritised for support through this initiative and are encouraged to apply.
This programme is aimed at sustaining and increasing employment in the agricultural sector. “We want to make sure that through the support of farming inputs which they will receive through vouchers will retain employment in the sector, while supporting the food value chains.”
Possible input suppliers are currently being evaluated to determine their suitability. Clinton Hayman, responsible for rural development, said the department expects about 150 000 applications.
“In the application process farmers will have to indicate what type of support they are looking for. The support is divided into fruits and vegetables, poultry, small stock (less than 25 units) and large stock (less than five units).”
- 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.