08/10/2010 Tina Joemat Pettersson Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries during the AgriSA congress, held at Mulderdrift Roodepoort. Photo: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - Support measures for smallholder farmers and fisheries projects announced in the 2013 Budget on Wednesday were welcomed by Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

“Today's speech demonstrates that our government is serious about eradicating the challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty alleviation,” she said in a statement.

“The National Development Plan has identified the potential of agriculture to create a million jobs.”

The Budget provided for her department would focus on supporting smallholder farmers over the medium term.

This would be achieved through conditional grants such as the comprehensive agricultural support programme, the Landcare programme and the Ilima/Letsema programme.

It would spend more than R6-billion in the medium-term on conditional grants to provinces, to support 435 000 subsistence farmers and 54 500 smallholder producers.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan urged private enterprise to invest in agriculture, among other sectors, to help expand trade and job creation.

Joemat-Pettersson said this message was “very welcome” in the fisheries and agriculture sector.

The department already provided support for smallholder farmers in terms of infrastructure and production, but the budget would allow the department to extend its programmes. - Sapa