NW govt prioritises support for emerging farmers

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mafikeng - The North West Provincial Government will this year intensify support for small and emerging farmers to secure and increase food production in the province.

"We must take into account that our country is currently a net importer of food. We need to transform our economic footprint in the province as a net importer of food products effectively and productively on our land," North West Premier Edna Molewa said on Wednesday.

She was responding to the questions from members of the North West Provincial Legislature on her State of the Province Address last week.

The premier said it was important to maintain the right balance between land redistribution, land use and increasing productive capacity.

She said the provincial government would continue supporting farmers in the province, in particular small and emerging farmers, as well as intensify efforts aimed at maximising land farming and implementing the rural development programme.

The rural development programme includes upgrading infrastructure in rural areas and forms part of the second phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme.

Premier Molewa said the only way the province would succeed in producing more food was if commercial farmers and emerging farmers get involved in the implementation of projects aimed at rural development and increasing food productivity in the province.

"We still have challenges as we go further in our journey to a better society. It is really important that we encourage all farmers, black and white to work together for the common good of our country.

"However, we must as government commit to work together with all who want to put their shoulders to the wheel of change," Ms Molewa said.

National government has this year allocated R1.8 billion boost to rural development and smaller farmer support.

Increasing agricultural output, raising rural incomes, supporting small scale farmers and investing in rural roads are key objectives of government's rural development strategy.

The national Department of Agriculture has also implemented a campaign known as Ilima/Letsema to encourage food production in each of the nine provinces.

As part of the programme government provides starter packs, which include farm implements, to emerging farmers.

The North West 2009/10 Provincial Budget to be tabled by the Finance MEC Maureen Modiselle on Thursday.