Thoko Didiza announces funding relief plan for farmers during lockdown
Johannesburg - The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza has outlined how small scale farmers can apply to access funding to help boost and secure food production during the next six months.
Didiza has set aside R1.2 billion in funding to help small scale farmers if they suffer any negative effects caused by the government's 21-day lockdown meant to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
She announced the plan on Monday during a press conference.
The R1.2bn is divided into R400 million being dedicated to the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy Programme and the remaining funds will be used to assist farmers in food production.
Farmers that seek assistance will have to earn an annual turnover of between R20 000 and R1 million.
The farmers need to be South African or have permanent residence status.
Other conditions include: farmers should be in the business of food production for at least 12 months, must be registered on the Farmers Register or any other provincial database or any farm-related registry.
Didiza said those who were not registered on any of the platforms would be registered when they apply for funding.
Farmers who farm in communal or traditional areas will also be covered, Didiza said. She said farmers should also be practising good farming practices to qualify.
The commodities that will be covered by the relief includes;
* Poultry: Day old chicks, Point of lay chickens, feed, medication and sawdust
* On Vegetables; seeds fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and soi correction.
* On Fruits; the final spraying programmes for fruits that are already being harvested as we speak, such as avocado, table grapes
* Other livestock will be supported with feed and medication to ensure that we maintain our animal health.
* On winter crops; soil correction and fertilizers, seeds, herbicides and pesticides.
She said summer production farmers will not be covered by the relief as they were not in production yet and the scheme was meant to ensure food supply for the next six months.
The minister said with the criteria the following groups would be prioritised; at least 50% would go to women, 40% to youth and 6% to disabled farmers.
Didiza said the assistance was not a loan but a grant.
It will be paid through vouchers where farmers can go to selected farm supply stores and purchase the supplies they need.
She said the grant would not assist with debt relief and is not meant to cover overhead costs.
Those farmers that seek financial assistance were encouraged to approach the Land Bank which has R100 million set aside to assist farmers financially.
Applications for the grants will open on Wednesday, April 8 and will close on April 22. No applications will be accepted after the closing date. Forms can be accessed at the department's offices but also on the government website www.dalrrd.gov.za or be lodged electronically at [email protected]Political Bureau