Durban — Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development director-general Mooketsa Ramasodi says the department is targeting to assist about 836 farmers with the R2.5 billion Agro-Energy Fund.
Ramasodi said the fund aimed to assist farmers facing challenges due to load shedding.
He was speaking to Newzroom Afrika.
“With the agro-energy funding, we are targeting to assist more than 133 commercial farmers. Medium level we are expecting to reach 230 and at the bottom level we are aiming to reach 500,” said Ramasodi.
The Agro-Energy Fund programme was a result of engagement between the Department of Agriculture and its sector holders, after experiencing a lot of energy challenges, he said.
“We then came up with this fund programme to assist farmers. This is a slanted finance scheme where a slating scale will be given to three categories of farmers. First, large commercial farmers, medium commercial farmers and also small commercial farmers with a slanting scale of a 30% up to 70% grant that we will be able to give them,” he said.
This comes after Minister of Agriculture Thoko Didiza announced the R2.5bn Agro-Energy Fund by the Land Bank to assist farmers with agricultural production systems, irrigation and energy sources. Farmers are expected to receive grants of between R500 000 and R1.5 million depending on their farming scale.
The Department of Agriculture will partner with the Land Bank, which will be supporting this fund with a loan of R2bn while the department will provide R500 million. Ramasodi said to ensure that this fund was spent correctly, they were going to build up checks with the Land Bank.
The criteria that we have set would be only for purposes of dealing with energy challenges to the extent that each and every applicant would have a farm visit to check the scale of their use of electricity and also check how this fund will be assisting them. So there will be very strict control measures to deal with issues around the three specific categories we have set.”
Ramasodi said the duration for farmers to pay back the fund would be announced once negotiations were finalised with the board of the Land Bank.
He also highlighted that there were other funds available within the Department of Agriculture to financially assist farmers.
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