If you are a small-scale farmer who has been affected financially due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you can approach the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development for financial relief.
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, recently outlined how an amount of R400 million will be allocated to farmers affected by COVID-19 who are within the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) programme and in the following sectors:
- 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.
Other commodity sectors will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, as the department continuously monitors the impact of COVID-19 on the sector.
Applications for the funding will close on 22 April and the forms can be accessed on the department’s website – www.dalrrd.gov.za – and through national, provincial, district and local offices of the national Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and Provincial Departments of Agriculture.
Applications can be lodged electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org or submitted to the offices. No late applications will be accepted.
The qualifying criteria for farmers are the following:
- South African citizens, who have been actively farming for a minimum of 12 months and are currently in the production season or cycle.
- Be registered on the Farmer Register, commodity database or provincial database. Those who are not on the Farmer Register will be registered to benefit.
- Communal farmers.
- Smallholder farmers with an annual turnover between R50 000 and R1 million.
- The adjudication process will prioritise women (50 percent), youth (40 percent) and people with disabilities (six percent).
Mechanisation, infrastructure and overhead costs will not be supported. “This is not comprehensive support but an intervention package amid COVID-19.
“Farmers who are preparing for the 2020 summer production season will not be supported.
“The aim is to provide immediate to near-term support to smallholder farmers currently affected by COVID-19,” said Minister Didiza.
Farmers who are currently receiving support through other programmes of government and its entities will not be eligible to benefit, and there will also be no payment of farmer debts.
Minister Didiza said R100 million has been made available through the Land Bank to assist farmers in distress and the bank is willing to engage with farmers on the nature of support they require.
Minister Didiza urged all employers within the sector to fully comply with all the applicable prescripts, as published by Government Notice No. 318 of 18 March 2020 and amended by Government Notices Nos. R 398 of 25 March 2020 and R419 of 26 March 2020.
She said farmers who will be supported must also apply good farming practices in order to ensure that the environment is protected for further production.
“Together as stakeholders within the sector, we have a mandate to ensure that there is access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for our country,” Minister Didiza said.