Black farmers to get state funding

The Land Bank will get a major cash injection to allow it to increase funding in the form of soft loans to black farmers who have benefited from the government’s land reform programme.

The funding also aims to ensure that all land in black hands, and state land that is lying idle, is “placed under production”.

Last week Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana told the Mail & Guardian the government is also planning a major shake-up in the fishing industry, which he described as the “most untransformed”, to improve the share of black people in the sector.

This will include major changes when quotas are allocated in 2020. A state fishing company will be created to boost the participation of people living at the coast in the industry.

Zokwana said his department’s plan and its role in stimulating the economy had been discussed at the Cabinet’s recent lekgotla.

Greater co-ordination between national and provincial agriculture departments, and between agriculture and other national ministries, was needed to ensure projects were implemented and that assets were used properly, he said.

He added that the policy of expropriation without compensation should not cause panic among farmers because an amendment to section 25 of the Constitution would provide “clarity” about which land could be expropriated and under what conditions.

Zokwana said his department aimed to increase the number of agriculture jobs from 847000 to a million by stimulating farming, fishing and forestry.

Greater focus would be placed on processing and marketing agricultural products, which would create new jobs, rather than exporting raw produce for processing abroad.

The Land Bank, he said, needed “an injection of funding” to allow it to finance and promote new farming and agribusiness projects and assist in improving irrigation.It is also helping to fund drought- and heat-resistant seed cultivars, to help prevent the repeat of job losses such as those experienced in the drought of 2016–2017.

Zokwana did not want to expand on how much was needed or where it would come from beyond saying the “money would be found”.

A shake-up of the fishing industry and the issuing of new licences in the coastal provinces should create another 300 permanent jobs.

“The president made it clear that the aim is to create certainty around section 25,” he said.“We will be cautious …we don’t want to kill the mainstay of the economy.”

Zokwana said some farmers were interested in giving half of their farms to farmworkers and in keeping their farms productive.

According to StatsSA, 109 000 agriculture jobs were lost last year, mainly because of the drought. Zokwana said that a further 3 000 jobs were shed in the agricultural sector in the first half of this year.

Large-scale retrenchments also occurred in the chicken industry because of the drought, feed price increases and the dumping of chicken by other countries.

One of the worst-hit agricultural sectors — and among the first to benefit from government’s stimulus package — was sugar. This took the form of a sugar import tariff increase and a programme to distribute seed and fertilizer

Siyabonga Madlala, chairperson of the South African Farmers Development Association, an organisation of black sugar farmers, said they welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of the stimulus package and expropriation of land without compensation made after the Cabinet lekgotla. He said that the industry needed further government assistance to transform it from simply producing sugar to producing biofuels and other products.

The organisation met Ramaphosa in March to appeal for intervention in the sector. Madlala said further tariffs would be welcomed but the initial intervention was positive.

He said government had been forced to legislate expropriation without compensation because of the lack of progress in land restitution and redistribution since 1994.

“We have an inequality gap that was created by apartheid and we have to sort it out. As small-scale farmers who only have access to small pockets of land we support expropriation without compensation,” he said.

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller and blag artist.
Advertisting

Eastern Cape MEC orders graft investigation after two workers killed...

The killings of two council workers at the Amathole district municipality appear to be linked to tender fraud and corruption

Strike-off case pulls in judge

Judge Mushtak Parker is implicated in an application to strike off his former partners. He is also involved in the fight between the Western Cape high court’s judge president and his deputy

One strike and you’re out – registrar tells unions

A municipal workers’ union is the first to be sanctioned for not following the new rule when deciding whether to go on strike
Advertising

Press Releases

Dr Mathew Moyo’s journey to academic victory

The NWU's chief director for library and information services was appointed as a board member of the National Council for Library and Information Services.

UKZN pays tribute to Joseph Shabalala, Doctor of Music (honoris causa)

The university joins the global community in mourning the passing of legendary musician and founding member of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Dr Bhekizizwe Joseph Shabalala.

South Africa to be almost R 14-billion wealthier when SAB Zenzele BB-BBEE scheme winds down in April 2020

It’s the biggest BB-BEE FMCG payout in South Africa’s history, with a new scheme to be launched

UKZN vice-chancellor calls for perspective and creative engagement on the way forward

In addition to overcoming the deadlock between UKZN and students, a way must be found to reconcile the university's financial obligations and students' long-term needs.

Survey shows South Africans’ approval of president but not of political parties

According to the survey, 62% of South Africans think Cyril Ramaphosa is doing his job well, while 39% say no political party represents their views.

Introducing the Samsung Galaxy S20: Change the way you experience the world

The Samsung Galaxy S20 series features unprecedented AI camera technologies built for the future of communications

Andrew Makenete joins Africa Agri Tech as an event ambassador

Makenete has a wealth of experience in the agricultural sector

Is your company prepared for the coronavirus?

Companies should consider the direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic when evaluating whether they are prepared for the coronavirus, says ContinuitySA.