Programme to assist KZN small-scale farmers to become sustainable commercial businesses

Friday, April 19, 2024

KwaZulu-Natal small-scale farmers have been afforded an opportunity to grow into sustainable commercial businesses through a holistic, integrated programme, which will provide mechanisation, infrastructure and sector expertise.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube led the provincial launch of the Integrated Agricultural Development Programme, where a total of 1 128 tractors, worth R17 million, and other implements were allocated for the small-scale farmers.

During the launch in Richmond on Thursday, Dube-Ncube, together with Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) MEC, Super Zuma, also handed over ownership certificates to community projects.

Dube-Ncube said through this initiative, the provincial government aims to strengthen the ability of farming groups to maintain, take responsibility and care for their assets.

She said additional mentorship and mechanisation training will be provided to community projects that are experiencing challenges in their farming activities to ensure self-sufficiency.

“Sustainable mechanisation is critical in the development of value chains and food systems, and through this programme, we are ensuring that even our small-scale farmers are given an opportunity to be competitive. 

“They will be able to sufficiently cultivate land, be more efficient, effective and environmentally friendly in their operations,” Dube-Ncube said.

The Premier also emphasised that food security is a priority for the province, and the provincial government remains committed to opening the market for provincial farmers, through government’s Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (IRASET) Programme. 

She said the provincial government wants the farmers to be game changers of the market, as per the commitment made during the State of the Province Address to assist farmers to meet demands of the province. 

“We want them to supply major markets locally and eventually service cross borders markets and we are ready to assist them to meet any criteria. Today we have officially handed over a cheque and equipment to SyaJay Agricultural Services, a project we are most proud of.

“SyaJay Agricultural Services (Pty) Ltd, is a 100% Black-owned business and the two beneficiaries are graduates of the Owen Sithole College of Agriculture. The project was approved for a total funding of R5.6 million from the Agricultural Development Agency (ADA) and 10 hydroponic tunnels, a cooling and irrigation systems have been completed. A mobile pack house will be ready at the end of May,” Dube-Ncube said.

Sya Ngcobo, one of the beneficiaries, said over and above becoming a sustainable business that is making profit, their vision is to create an information hub. 

Ngcobo said they partly want to function as a demonstration site, where small-holder farmers would sharpen their skills and gain crucial sectorial knowledge.

“In many instances, you find that some farmers struggle once they have penetrated the market. Even though they may have good quality produce, vegetables do not sell because of incorrect packaging. 

“We want to teach our farmers and give them an opportunity to come and see how it is done from the work we will be doing,” Ngcobo said.

Dube-Ncube said the items will at a later stage be distributed to all the districts when champion MECs roll out the programme. –