A R57.2 million support programme is enabling small-scale farmers in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) to buy the tractors, implements, fertiliser, seeds and seedlings needed to make their farms commercially successful.
Speaking at the launch of the Farmer Support Package (FSP) initiative in Dondotha, uMfolozi , KZN MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi said the FSP will help the province go back to the basics of producing its own food by providing dedicated and efficient support to potential commercial farmers.
She said the FSP will be the engine that powers the growth and development of multi-planting season campaigns, which will see under-utilised land being better used to grow food.
The FSP will enable communities to fight poverty and hunger by cultivating the land available in their villages and backyards.
Sithole-Moloi said food insecurity remains a critical challenge affecting people’s social conditions due to rising unemployment, poverty and inequality.
“The introduction of the FSP today, is a clear statement that we are determined and stand ready to provide a dedicated and efficient support package to all the agricultural value chains that are key drivers to the province’s sustainable economic growth and transformation,” she said.
The MEC said the province wants to see the mass production of food by local farmers and would support this by giving material support to emerging farmers.
Sithole-Moloi said buying existing commercial farms is not the only way to enter the agriculture sector. Another way, she said, is by using ‘the very land available in our villages and our backyards’.
The package will help ramp-up agricultural production in KZN, following a decline of 7% in the last quarter.
“These figures affect commercial, emerging and small-scale farming. In line with this, the department has assessed at least 39 land reform farms as part of the multi-million rand farmer support package aimed at claiming back to production over 772 million hectares of arable land lying fallow on over 1 200 farms province-wide, this year,” she said.
KZN farmers wanting more information can visit their nearest Department of Agriculture and Rural Development office, call 033 355 9100 or visit www.kzndard.gov.za.