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Support for smallholder farmers

Cape Town - Smallholder and subsistence farmers will be supported in an effort to increase food production, according to the 2014 Budget tabled on Wednesday.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said over R7 billion in total would be spent on conditional grants to provinces, to support around 435,000 subsistence and 54,500 smallholder farmers.

In this file photo, a worker walks between rows of vegetables at a farm in Eikenhof, south of Johannesburg. Credit: Reuters

According to the 2014 Budget Review, smallholder farms continue to struggle with access to finance; agronomic challenges, such as disease management; product quality; and, insufficient extension support.

Smallholder production declined between 1998 and 2008 as a result.

Government was hoping to increase the number of farms recapitalised through government grants to 867 farms by 2016/17, from some 200 farms in April 2012.

According to the review, government's proposed agricultural policy outlines how the sector can be a major source of low-skilled employment and export growth.

Gordhan said the Fetsa Tlala initiative aimed to bring an additional one million hectares into cultivation by 2019, which would create an additional 300,000 jobs.

In the fisheries sector, the focus would be on the creation of 3550 jobs in coastal and rural communities through the Working for Fisheries programme.

The department was hoping to finalise and implement the small-scale fisheries policy in 2014/15, and improve compliance with and enforcement of the Marine Living Resources Act.

The department's total budget for 2014/15 is R6.69 billion.

Of this, R427m will go to the fisheries portfolio, down from R433.7m in 2013/14.

Sapa

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