Emerging farmers adversely affected by the lockdown in KwaZulu-Natal will now be able to supply local retailers and government departments through a deal secured by the provincial government. The deal forms part of the Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation programme.
MEC for the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, says they have allocated resources to accelerate the implementation of the programme.
“We have 15 eight ton refrigerated trucks about 14 vans and two-ton trailers that we are using that were bought by the department. The trucks will collect food from our people from all the areas that are busy. The individual farmers, we collect food from them during this time and we create the market.”
Dube-Ncube has urged other retailers to open their markets to small enterprises.
“We would like to request and appeal to other retailers to really work with us here to open their markets to our small enterprises so that they can get through to those markets. We know that until today, our small enterprises are not able to penetrate your big retail shops, their markets are still closed to the big conglomerates.”
In the video below, founder of Khula app Karidas Tshintsholo discusses government’s intervention in the agriculture sector.
COVID-19 relief for farmers
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced in early April that R1,1 billion will be used for emerging farmers, while R100 million is meant for distressed commercial farmers who have credit with the Land Bank. Following that announcement, the President of the World Farmers’ Organisation and Chairperson of South African Agri Initiative (SAAI), Theo de Jager said the money set aside for farmers by government for COVID-19 relief is not enough.
He said farmers need to pay for production, salaries for employees and other logistics during the lockdown.
“We need much more than that, both for the smallholders and of course much more for commercial farmers to ensure that food pipes remain open and that the food value chain remains running. If we do not produce now, if we do not plant now; there will be nothing to harvest and I know the minister is asking herself ‘where should the money come from? It’s way too expensive from what we can afford’, but let me tell you we have not calculated the cost of farming.”
In the video below, Agri SA’s Disaster Management Centre Manager Andrea Campher discusses the impact of COVID-19 on farming.
In Mpumalanga, farmers making a turnover of between R20 000 and R1 million re to receive vouchers not exceeding R50 000 to alleviate the impact of COVID-19. MEC for Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs in Mpumalanga Vusi Shongwe announced the relief measures during a meeting with farmer’s associations in Ermelo in early April.
Farmers’ associations also pleaded with the government to assist them with protective clothing in order to adhere to the new regulations. AgriSA Provincial coordinator Jerry Mthombothi said the situation has left some farmers vulnerable.
“The farmers are facing a big problem because if the workers are not working, they are not supposed to get paid. So these people will have a big problem in supporting their families and farmers are not able to take their produce to the market if the labourers are not working.”
Source: SABC News (sabcnews.com)