Cape Town - The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Reform, Thoko Didiza is preparing to table her R17.3 billion budget this afternoon.
The multi-billion rand budget will enable the department to support food security in the country through a range of programmes, some of which are done at provincial level.
The bulk of the budget will go towards transfers to provinces and agricultural entities.
Didiza held a pre-Budget Vote media briefing at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament earlier where she gave highlights of the budget vote speech.
“Land as we all know is central in the agricultural economy and food security. Agricultural land on its own cannot produce a farmer. A farmer needs land, water, infrastructure, implements, knowledge, finance, people, research and technology in order to produce,” she said.
A portion of the national budget will go towards commercialisation of black farmers through Land Development Support.
Didiza said that this year, the department will further support 250 000 farmers as President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his State of the Nation Address. Didiza said they were, however, concerned about rural infrastructure, in particular rural roads on and off farms.
“We will be working closely with farmers and other partners to ensure that we address this challenge,” she said.
Speaking on the department’s land reform programme, Didiza said it continued to be a critical element in support of agriculture and that they are continuously working to acquire land, in particular for women and youth.
She announced that the ministry and the department have also resolved to set up a directorate that will focus on farm workers and labour tenants in order for the ministry to have a focus on interventions in addressing their needs.
During the briefing, stakeholders in the agricultural sector also signed the Agricultural and Agro-processing Master Plan.
Central to the master plan is transformation of the agricultural industry.
The pillars that support the master plan as agreed to by partners were listed as follows:
a) Resolving policy ambiguities and an creating investment-friendly environment
b) Investing in, and maintaining enabling infrastructure critical to industry
c) Providing comprehensive farmer support
d) Improving food security
e) Facilitate market expansion and promoting trade
f) Improving localisation and reduce imports
“It is our commitment that even though we sign today, we have to accept that there are matters that require further engagements among parties. We want a process that is inclusive and therefore we have to endeavour to find one another.
“This document we have in front of us today is a living document and as such we must accept that time and again changing conditions will demand of us to be responsive,” Didiza said.