AFASA welcomes R6.2bn allocation for smallholder farmers

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pretoria - The African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA) has welcomed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget allocation of R6.2 billion to support the growth and development of smallholder farmers.

AFASA Managing Director Aggrey Mahanjana said: “We welcome the R6.2 billion budget allocation to support the growth and development of smallholder farmers.”

According to agri-focus, budget policy documents tabled by the Finance Minister in Parliament on Wednesday, the Department of Agriculture is expected to support smallholder farmers through conditional grants such as the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP), the Landcare programme, Ilima/Letsema programme as well as the mobilisation of farmers, women and youth into agricultural cooperatives.

Mahanjana said the minister’s “ambiguity and silence” on the budget allocation for rural development and land reform, as well as subsidising smallholder farmers through the Recapitalisation and Development Programme were disappointing.

“We hold a strong view that interventions aimed at productivity of the agricultural land will create and sustain jobs and ensure a food secure South Africa,” he said.

AFASA also wants the minister to introduce tough laws and policies aimed at ensuring the speedy implementation of government programmes so as to maximise production levels, create jobs and grow the agricultural economy.

“We would like to call on the minister to take harsh action against accounting officers who underspend and delay service delivery.

“In our case as farmers, interventions which are not aligned to production circles are pointless,” Mahanjana said.

South Africa’s official representative of black and smallholder farmers also congratulated government for its continued commitment to the realisation of the key pillars of the National Development Plan, infrastructure development, quality education and job creation.

The association further asked government to ensure that the budget allocated to the Department of Higher Education takes a deliberate bias towards the revitalisation of Agricultural Colleges and Further Education and Training institutions. -