Small-scale farmers thrown an emergency funding lifeline

Agricultural Minister Thoko Didiza announced the criteria on Monday.
Commercial farmers will not be covered in this programme. Image: Shutterstock

Small-scale farmers in need of financial support will be able to apply for assistance from Wednesday, when the Department of Agriculture’s R1.2 billion Covid-19 relief package opens applications. 

To qualify for the relief an applicant must be a small-scale or communal farmer, with an annual turnover of between R50 000 and R1 million and a South African citizen who has been in operation for at least one year and is currently in the production season.

All farmers should apply good farming processes and be registered on the Producer/Farmer Register and commodity or provincial databases. Those who aren’t will be registered upon application. 

Criteria

Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza said the fund will prioritise providing relief to women (who should make up at least 50% of the beneficiaries), young farmers (who should account for 40%) and at least 6% disabled people.

Around R400 million of the fund will be ring-fenced for farmers on the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy land reform programme.

The remaining R800 million will be channelled towards farmers in a limited selection of commodity sectors such as: 

  • Poultry: Day-old chicks, point of lay chickens, feed, medication and sawdust
  • Other livestock: Feed and medication
  • Vegetables: Seedlings, fertiliser, pesticides, herbicides and soil correction work.

Didiza said other sectors will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. She clarified that the wine industry, which is harvesting now, will not be disturbed, while food distribution relating to importing and exporting of goods has not stopped. 

She also made it clear that the money will not be issued to help farmers pay their debt; it is meant to go towards operational costs.

“It is also important for me to indicate that this intervention is excluding mechanisation, infrastructure and other overhead costs.

“This is not comprehensive support but an intervention package with regard to the challenge that the country is facing,” said Didiza. 

Farmers who are preparing for the 2020 summer production season will not be supported, and those receiving assistance through other government programmes are also disqualified from this programme.

“The aim is to secure food for the next … six months while the country deals with Covid-19,” she explained. 

Commercial farmers

Didiza said commercial farmers will be covered by the R100 million facility at the Land Bank for farmers in financial distress who already have loans with the bank.

“I know that there are financial institutions who have actually made some arrangements to assist those farmers and other businesses that are in distress during this period,” said Didiza. 

South Africa is currently producing enough food for citizens and the current interventions will ensure that supply is not severely impacted over time, even as international trade is disrupted due to the pandemic, said Didiza. 

“We would like to reiterate that there’s no need for panic buying, as such buying only serves to create artificial food shortages in our supply chain and unfortunately in some instances, this may result in unnecessary food hikes.”

Applications for relief will be available on the department’s website and will close on April 22.

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One wonders who exactly are these funds aimed at? If you know what I mean?

If your voters are ignorant and naive you can steal the purchasing power of their currency with your left hand, while with your right hand you use some of it to bribe that voter with his own money and you put the rest in your own pocket as a “consultation fee”.

ANC politics is very transparent for the literate minority but quite opaque for most ANC voters.

The penny will just never drop will it.

Still on the good old socialist communist bandwagon.

Don’t they thinks the best and deserving farmers need to be targeted?

What is this actually about? Food security?

Dont think so. Pigs at a trough is all it is.

Just more looting of taxpayers money by the ANC to buy votes.

On the topic of socialism/ communism the best and most fair/ equitable mode of distribution would be to nationaise the payrolls for these smme farmers. That would provide job security which is the issue not food security. We have been told vehemently their is enough food. Easy to qualify and justify and distribute since you should already be registered as a tax payer and uif payer.

Can non RSA citizens now stop paying tax? My husband is not an RSA citizen, but has been payning millions in tax and vat in the past 40 years. Apparently he has no right to benefit from any of this.

Not just non-SA citizens. Include SA citizens that don’t fall into their “prioritised criteria”.

So suddenly there is money for farmers. As above I ask who is it for. We struggled for 4 years to get drought aid and when it did come through it got stolen/disappeared. The second lot of drought aid in the Eastern Cape R70 something million was dished out. We got 6 bags of maize, 4 years later, hardly worth even fetching.

We are livestock farmers so staff are working easy to keep their distance.

Is this suddenly a way of giving emerging farmers money? Previously they could not raise a cent because of lack of security.

I see Minister Sisulu is dropping off JOJO tanks in all the rural areas. Has it occurred to her they all need piping to fill. They have not provided water to these areas so what use is the tank.

Elections next year? I am starting to see this being swung around to a vote catching exercise. Vote ANC we saved you from the virus. We gave you money, JoJo’s.

R400 million to buy ground????

Criteria

Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza said the fund will prioritise providing relief to women (who should make up at least 50% of the beneficiaries), young farmers (who should account for 40%) and at least 6% disabled people.

She later goes on to say that all cases will be looked at on merit. This absurd statement of hers is straight out the “vote for me playbook”. This is exactly why SA can never unite as a single nation.

It is good that the government makes an effort to support small scale farmers, the only thing is will this money be efficiently and quickly enough transferred to these people, or will this again take months if not years?

It will take years and will be subject to erosion.

Who should they be supporting, the mega farmer who produces huge quantities of food and exports or the small subsistence farmer who feeds his family?

I see Malema and co are very quiet during this crisis. Normally on their soapboxes trashing farmers. Worried about his little tummy I guess. As we all know they have zero to contribute to the country in good times and even less now.

To steal money doesn’t take long. The beneficiaries have probably already been identified.

Is this government working??? I am not use to seeing it 🙂

Not working just refining looting.

Go figure! Subsistence farmers who just produce food for themselves get 12x as much as commercial farmers. So this will be just another social grant to secure votes. In “The Sowetan Live” it was stated that this measure is to “secure food security” which is rubbish. If you want to “secure food security” then help the mega farmers because they feed the entire nation, not just themselves.

i am just too furious/surprised/disappointed to comment on this one: anc decision: out of the blue there is all of a sudden money (once again from the taxpayer) to dish out to small farmers – but the core farmers are ignored – wont be surprised if it is funded via the corona19 fund.

Farmers need a policy environment that ensures a sustainable agricultural sector. The socialist policies of the DTI put pressure on the profit margins of farmers to such an extent that they have no financial buffer to cope with droughts. Ad-hoc and arbitrary intervention won’t save the industry. These inferior agricultural policies will turn South Africa into a nation of beggars, dependent on food aid from the West. A nation that treats its farmers like this, does not deserve food security. The South African agricultural policy ensures food security in Developed Nations and unemployment and bankrupt farmers in South Africa.

There are areas of SA where no rain was measured in the last 8 years. Any help for them?? No need. Small scale farmers will one day feed all of us. This works well in Zim

They just cannot help themselves. Have to turn everything into a racial thing. Have perfected the way to twist the words so it does not look obvious

As Churchill said “Never waste a good crisis”. Our politicians certainly know the meaning of these words. Moody’s downgrades SA to junk along with the Landbank and other banks, the ability to attract funding that gets funneled to a select few decreases so what do you do, you take tax payer money to replace investors. Bam, problem solved and “Animal Farm” can carry on. Some are always more equal than other.

End of comments.

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