Cape Town - While the agriculture sector has been hailed as booming with opportunities for the country’s economic recovery, Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza sought to back up these claims with the launch of the country’s Farmer Register.
The department said this register aims to record data on where smallholders in the agricultural sector were in their outreach, demographics, production and contribution to employment to ultimately improve inaccurate and misrepresented statistics of farmers in the commercial sector and smallholder farmers.
As the Agricultural Census released by Stats SA for 2019/20 mainly covered the commercial sector, Didiza said this register was then undertaken to address the shortfall of data on smallholder producers in the country.
“The register has confirmed that more smallholder and subsistence farmers are involved in livestock production followed by crops and mixed farming. This tool is important because it will enable us as government to support as well as monitor the performance by government and farmers themselves,” Didiza said.
She said the farmer registrations were ongoing and the department was busy attracting more farmers on its database in all the provinces.
Black Farmer Association of South Africa president Lennox Mtshagi said the register focused largely on demographics, which was needed as he said there were no black commercial farmers recorded in the Western Cape.
“This register presents an opportunity to accurately represent black and other minority farmers,” said Mtshagi.
The head of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Mogale Sebopetsa, said the department has been involved in the project since 2019 and their agricultural advisers assisted numerous farmers to register on the platform.
“It was important to establish a credible baseline from which the contribution of smallholder agriculture can be measured,” Sebopetsa said.
He said the register was a living database that was continually updated and encouraged all smallholder farmers in the province to register at regional offices.
Agri Western Cape chief executive officer Jannie Strydom also welcomed the new register and said fact-based decision-making was of utmost importance to assist national government to better address smallholder farmer’s needs.