Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, says efforts to improve market access for South African products on the international markets are bearing fruit.
Presenting the department’s R17 254 348 billion budget for the 2023/2024 financial year on Tuesday, Didiza said in June 2022, the country signed the Protocol of Phytosanitary Requirements for the export of soybean from South Africa to China.
In August last year, SA also successfully negotiated the lifting of a ban on South Africa’s wool and other cloven-hoofed animals’ skin products with China.
“There were several inspections in favour of South African animal and plant products in export markets such as Saudi Arabia. On 4 May 2023, a total of 54 million tons of maize for feed from South Africa docked in the port of Dongguan, China.
“This import of maize was captioned in China, as it is reported that it has injected long-term impetus into food security, strengthening agricultural cooperation between China and South Africa, and promoting the interconnection of industrial supply chains between the two countries,” Didiza said.
She stressed that support to black producers in agriculture and agro-processing is an important vehicle to bring about transformation in the sector.
In this regard, the department continues to strengthen the Blended Finance Model to increase access to affordable finance.
“To broaden the scope of support even further, the department is in the process of concluding agreements to extend the Blended Finance Model to commercial banks in the 2023/2024 financial year, and I will soon make an announcement in that regard,” Didiza said.
Support for subsistence and small-scale farmers
Through its conditional grants -- the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) and Ilima/Letsema -- the department has in the past financial year supported 15 853 (through CASP) and 25 781 (through Ilima/Letsema) farmers.
“In this year, the provision of R2.15 billion will further assist farmers with production inputs and infrastructure from these two programmes,” the Minister said.
Through a Micro Agricultural Financial Institutions of South Africa (MAFISA) programme, which allows for the charging of lower interest rates on loans to farmers, a total of R19 million at the Land Bank is available to support small-scale producers.
“Since its inception, MAFISA has assisted over 25 732 farmers. During the 2022/2023 financial year, we committed to support 83 farms, and I can report that the preliminary performance report indicates that the target has been achieved.
“For the current financial year, the Land Development Support Programme will support 66 farms, with a budget of R449 million, with production inputs, on-farm agricultural infrastructure, mechanisation, implements and equipment, and operational costs.
“The department continues to conduct this work in partnership with commodity organisations and commercial banks,” Didiza said.
Reviving agriculture in communal areas
Meanwhile, Didiza has reaffirmed government’s commitment to continue working with communities under communal areas and their leaders on a better land governance and administration system.
This follows a Summit on Communal Land Administration and Tenure, which was held last year, where government made a firm decision to divest its trusteeship of land in order to ensure that communities under communal areas can own and administer their own land.
“The National Development Plan (NDP - Vision 2030) recognises the need to integrate rural areas in agricultural development by mainly expanding irrigated areas and promoting dry-land farming where feasible. The NDP further envisions the conversion of underutilised land in communal areas and land reform projects into commercial production.
“This year, we will focus on these areas, including engagements with Amakhosi, to facilitate the development of area-based plans to revive agricultural production. The department has already begun with drone flyovers in some communal areas to map these areas in order to facilitate better planning,” Didiza said. – SAnews.gov.za