Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said on Monday that it was reviewing its 50/50 funding policy for restitution and farm beneficiaries - and aimed to offer beneficiaries 100% of the capital required.

Department spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said they intended to support these beneficiaries after the settlements.

“All we want from them is that they should be clear on what they want to achieve with their agricultural enterprises. The department will fund them with the money dedicated for these for restitution and farm beneficiaries,” said Nkwanyana.

“We have noticed that the beneficiaries experience problems in their quest to raise the other half of the capital needed, even when the department has given them the other half. This causes the money to remain unused and farms to remain unproductive. We intend to be able to offer them even 100% of the capital they need when required.”

KZN is a generally well-watered province with a larger agricultural high quality area and produces several agricultural products. It is a base for a significant percentage of the country’s small-scale farmers.

Nkwanyana said a task team was currently working on this review with the intention of informing the department’s budget for the next financial year.

Intervention

“This funding intervention for small-scale farmers is to augment other programmes that we have with Ithala, Old Mutual’s Masisizane programme, the National Empowerment Fund and the Agribusiness Development Agency.”

Nkwanyana added that the department would offer support to the programme beneficiaries through its business unit dedicated to agricultural development.

National African Farmers Union president Dr Mandla Buthelezi said this initiative by the government would be “overwhelming”.

“Farmers struggled to raise their own 50%. Funding is an issue and this is welcomed,” said Buthelezi.

He said over and above funding, capacity building was required together with facilitating access to markets for the farmers.

University of KZN’s agricultural development and food security expert, Professor Maryann Green, commended the move, but added that the beneficiaries of these programmes should receive good mentorship.

“The issue when people get a lot of money is that they think they can buy everything. When people start up without anything, agriculture is capital intensive and still requires upkeep as the business continues. They need to get good mentorship from former farmers who will assist them with financial planning,” Green said.

She said people were generally not productive when left to fend for themselves.

“It is essential that we get farming productive,” Green said.

The province is said to have a total of 6.5 million hectares of land for farming purposes of which 82% is suitable for extensive livestock production and 18% is arable land.

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