Government continues to 'capacitate' emerging farmers with skills, mentorship

Friday, May 26, 2023

As part of comprehensive farmer support, government says it will continue to implement steps to capacitate emerging farmers with requisite skills and mentorship programmes based on their needs.

“This capacity building assists farmers to optimise both production and marketing operations,” said Deputy President Paul Mashatile.

These interventions, including targeted policy instruments according to the Deputy President, seek to provide clear deliverables that are aimed at accelerating land reform and agricultural production, directly contributing to South Africa’s food security, and growing productive outputs. 

The Deputy President was on Thursday responding to oral questions in Parliament about the progress on the land reform programme, coalition governments, and role as the President’s envoy on South Sudan, among others.

He said government was “duty-bound” to reverse the injustice of land dispossession.

“Hence, land reform remains one of the foremost policy interventions in realising our social transformation agenda.”

Meanwhile, he said land reform was aimed at ensuring economic growth and inclusion in all sectors of the economy, particularly the agriculture and agro-processing value chain, which leads to sustainable food security.

However, he acknowledged that the pace of land reform has been slow.  

“Section 25 of the Constitution … instructs us, amongst others, to take reasonable legislative and other measures within its available resources to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis.”

The National Assembly has passed the Expropriation Bill, which is currently under consideration by the National Council of Provinces.

In the meantime, government has made several interventions, including the 700 000 hectares of state land identified for redistribution.

In addition, he said 659 602 hectares of land were considered and approved for allocation which translates to 1 459 farms.

Also, 245 000 hectares of land have been acquired and allocated to targeted beneficiaries which include 107 000 hectares to women, 85 000 to youth and 489 to people living with disabilities.

According to the Deputy President, 25 000 hectares of the acquired land have been allocated for tenure reform purposes, while 4 500 assistant agricultural practitioners have been recruited to provide technical support to farmers.

“As the government, we continue to provide support to beneficiaries of land redistribution through financing, training, market access, irrigation, and the provision of seeds, fertiliser, and equipment, all of which contribute to the sustainability of emerging agricultural enterprises.”

He told Members of Parliament that government was prioritising requisite support mechanisms for emerging farmers.

These include programmes aimed at resourcing and equipping producers towards increased food production and supporting land reform-acquired farms with infrastructure, farm machinery and equipment.

The state also provides a blended finance scheme, which supports commercialisation.

Meanwhile, the South African Good Agricultural Practices Certification Programme helps farmers to meet minimum food safety and quality requirements, which eases access to the market.

The state is also working with the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation to enhance the provision of extension services for small-scale farmers towards attaining sustainable food production and market access. –