Farmers in North West have called on their provincial government to direct funds effectively to assist small-scale farmers and to prioritise projects aimed at addressing their challenges.
This comes after the MEC of finance, Motlalepule Rosho, on Tuesday announced a further adjustment to the agricultural department budget, with the key focus on alleviating poverty and increasing food security during her mid-term budget speech.
Rosho said the department’s adjusted budget was sitting at R 1.2 billion.
Key projects the MEC announced includes the comprehensive agricultural support programme grant, Illima-letsema projects grant, land care programme grant, poverty relief and infrastructure development and agricultural disaster management grant.
Plight of farmers
Julius Mokgele a 56-year-old goat farmer in Ventersdorp, said he would be happy to see government projects reaching them as rural farmers.
“It would be nice to see our government really coming down to us and assist us in terms of funding so we could be able to buy feed for our livestock. Some of us are relying on this livestock to survive; a cash injection from the government would be nice,” he said.
Mokgele added that while he is aware that government does focus on youth and women, he would love to engage the department to assist older persons who have been in farming for a long time.
Meanwhile John Nyathi, a 45-year-old farmer from Rustenburg, said government should invest in giving qualifying farmers vouchers to buy feed and other important equipment.
“We know that we are many seeking assistance, however, if the government could take the route of us as farmers getting vouchers to really equip ourselves with the necessary machines that we use, that will go a long way,” he said.
Getting in touch with farmers
According to Thomas Mlangeni, a 32-year-old farmer in Brits, officials such as extension officers need to get on the ground and identify farmers who need funds.
“We all hear that government is spending monies on farmer development and so forth, however, we on the ground are still waiting and do not even know who to talk to. It is time for government to get on the ground and meet us,” he said.
Mlangeni believes that month-to-month workshops and opportunity update meetings in nearby towns will help a great deal to reach as many farmers as possible.
Rosho further pointed out that agriculture as one of the economic cluster departments is important in ensuring that the economy of the province is reignited and jobs are created.
“The province needs to position itself to effectively participate in the ever-evolving economy, thus needs to embrace change and remain agile in riding the new wave of economic opportunities.
“The future of jobs lies in the economic competitive edge of the province within the global space, and agriculture is one of the sectors in the North West that is contributing immensely to the economic growth,” she said.
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