A timely relief for farmers

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza has announced the department’s interventions to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19.

The department has ring-fenced R1.2 billion for assistance to mainly target financially distressed small-scale farmers.

The minister said that of the R1.2 billion, R400 million has been allocated for farmers within the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) programme and the remainder will be channelled towards all other farmers that are mainly within the following commodity sectors:

In the Poultry sector, farmers will be assisted with Day old chicks, Point of lay chickens, feed, medication and sawdust.

In other Livestock, farmers will get feed and medication.

Those farming Vegetables will be assisted with Seedlings, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and soil correction.

Didiza said that 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.

Qualifying criteria for farmers includes being South African citizens who have been actively farming for a minimum of 12 months and currently in the production season or cycle, be registered on farmer register, commodity database or provincial database [Those who are not on the Farmer Register will be registered to benefit], Communal farmers, Smallholder farmers with annual turnover between R50 000 and R1 million.

The minister said the adjudication will prioritise women, youth and people with disabilities.


Didizan said that mechanisation, infrastructure and overhead costs will NOT be supported. “This is not comprehensive support but intervention package amid COVID-19.

“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 and farmers who are currently receiving support through other programmes of government and its entities,” she said.

There will be no payment for debts.

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 – www.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 applications@dalrrd.gov.za or submitted to the offices as outlined.

The Minister said she wishes to also encourage all stakeholders within the sector to observe and implement regulations as published by Government Notice No. 318 of 18 March 2020, as amended by Government Notices Nos. R 398 of 25 March 2020 and R419 of 26 March 2020. The observation and implementation of these prescripts on health and occupational safety is also critical for the farmworkers, who are the backbone of the food supply system.

“I urge all employers within the sector to fully comply with all the applicable prescripts. Together, as stakeholders within the sector we have a mandate to ensure that there is access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for our country,” said Minister Didiza.

By Mzansi Agriculture Talk News

Budget 2020: Agriculture sector expects action

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has been urged to ensure the correct strategies are in place to make the implementation of any announcements made during the 2020/2021 National Budget speech feasible.

According to Annette Steyn, DA MP and member of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, every year many projects and plans were announced with great fanfare, but no action followed.

READ Treasury cuts land reform budget

She cited the example of the R3,9 billion allocated to Land Bank in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement to support black farmers.

“These announcements sound encouraging. However, we know there’s no programme in place, and that the department has no strategy to implement them,” said Steyn.

She added the minister allocated R1,8 billion last year for the implementation of 262 priority land reform projects over three years, but government had still not provided a list of where these projects would be executed.

“We have also been informed that the projects will not be implemented within the next year as [it has taken] too long to draw up business plans and planting time is over.”

Steyn also emphasised that no funds had been budgeted to address challenges such as the drought and the recent foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

Other industry role players said that they hoped Mboweni would make a commitment to address pressing issues faced by the sector, such as climate change, land reform and electricity challenges.

Dr Vuyo Mahlati, president of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa, said government needed to show commitment to drought management: “After such a tough year, it is expected that the minister should focus his attention on making sure that the various departments that are dealing with drought and disasters are given more [financial clout].”

She said it was important that financial support for farmers, particularly black farmers, actually reached them through the appropriate intermediaries.

For Katlego Ramantsima and Nkanyiso Gumede, researchers at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, the main interest of this year’s speech would be to see whether the budget for land reform and agriculture would continue to decrease. They pointed out that in past financial years, insufficient budget allocations had been highlighted as one of the factors behind the slow pace of land reform.

“However, important reports, [released by panels] such as the High Level Panel and Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform, had implored government to make more resources available to help salvage land reform. The emphasis was on increasing the budget for land acquisition and post-settlement support. It will be interesting to see if this call will be heeded,” they said.

Prepared by Jeandré van der Walt