In a bid to scale up potential commercial farmers in the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal, the province’s MEC for agriculture and rural development, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, distributed tractors, implements, fertilisers and seeds to farmers in Empangeni.
This was done as part of the farmer support package valued at R57.2 million, which Sithole-Moloi unveiled earlier this year. The multi-million rand investment seeks to ensure that productivity on 39 low risk small-holder and commercial farms in 11 districts continuously increase.
The MEC and her department foresees the farmer support package to have a positive impact on household food security, the province’s employment rate, independence, and social stability.
Speaking at the recent handover, Sithole-Moloi said that the package pays attention to growing small-scale farmers in the context of material support across various commodities.
“The introduction… is a clear statement that we are determined and stand ready to provide a dedicated and efficient support package to all the agricultural value chains that are key drivers to the province’s sustainable economic growth and transformation,” she said.
“We are augmenting the call to go back to basics of mass-producing our own food.” – BONGIWE SITHOLE-MOLOI
She believes the package is what drives the intensified multi-planting seasonal campaigns. The campaigns, praised as a crucial driver in the food and nutrition security, and economic recovery action plan, forms part of the state’s aim to plant one million hectares by 2024.
Meanwhile, Sithole-Moloi has declared the package as a clear signal to the province.
She states it will educate people that the entry to the agricultural economy does not only lie on the acquisition of already existing commercial farms. But also, in the very land available in villages and backyards.
Sithole-Moloi added that the farmer support package would bring balance between the usage of available land in tribal lands predominantly for household consumption as well as the re-engineering of mindsets for producing for markets.
Tackling food insecurity
Food insecurity, according to the MEC, remains a critical challenge affecting people’s social conditions due to rising unemployment, poverty and inequality.
Therefore, mechanisms for a support package to promote the commercialisation of strategic agricultural enterprises are urgently needed. “We are augmenting the call to go back to basics of mass-producing our own food, today,” said Sithole-Moloi.
Agricultural produce in the province was heavily affected in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. Agricultural production in the province declined by 7% in the last quarter, affecting commercial, up-and-coming and small-scale farming.