By Adelene van Zyl
Photo by Oliver Eggers, Winterton
Food insecurity is becoming a bigger concern as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across the world. In South Africa, the agricultural sector normally does not contribute a large percentage to the GPD. However, the agricultural sector is currently playing an important role in order to sustain South Africa’s food security during the national lockdown period. The Government has already provided various support measures to the country and its citizens. On 6 April 2020, the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform also acted swiftly in providing support for local farmers. Minister Thoko Didiza announced relief strategies for farmers during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The department has made R 1.2 billion available for farmers, focusing mainly on struggling small-scale farmers. This fund is allocated into four main channels. The first channel is the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy Programme. The second channel focus on the poultry industry, which aims its resources on day old chicks, point of lay chickens, feed, medication and sawdust. The third channel focuses on livestock feed and medication. The last channel focus on vegetable production, aiming the resources on seedlings, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and soil correction. The Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy Programme has been allocated R 400 million, while the rest of the fund is allocated to the other three channels.
Farmers can apply for support from this fund and will be evaluated on a case by case basis. There are, however, a few criteria that must be met for a farmer to receive financial support. The first criterium is that the farmer must be a South African citizen and must have been farming actively for a minimum of twelve months and must also currently be in the production season. The second requirement is that the farmer must be registered as a farmer or on a commodity or provincial database. Other requirements are that the farmer must be a small-scale farmer must have an annual turnover between R50 000 and R1 million. This process of allocating funds towards farmers will prioritize women, youth and people with disabilities.
The department also mentioned exclusions from applying for this fund, such as debt payments, mechanisation, infrastructure and overhead costs. Farmers who are preparing for the summer production of 2020 will also not be supported, since the focus is on relieving current pressure due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Farmers who are already supported through other programmes of government will also not be supported by this fund.
Struggling farmers are encouraged to apply for this fund from before 22 April 2020 since no late entries will be accepted. Farmers can find the application forms on www.dalrrd.gov.za and submit the applications electronically to email@example.com or submitted to the offices as stated on the application.
Photo of Minister Thoko Didiza (Phakathi, 2020)
Minister Thoko Didiza encouraged the farmers with this statement: “I urge all employers within the sector to fully comply with all the acceptable prescripts. Together, as stakeholders within the sector we have a mandate to ensure that there is access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for our country.”
Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, 2020. Minister Thoko Didiza announces interventions to assist agricultural sector during Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown. [Online]
Available at: https://www.gov.za/speeches/minister-thoko-didiza-announces-interventions-assist-agricultural-sector-during-coronavirus [Accessed 10 April 2020].
Phakathi, B., 2020. Distressed farmers to get access to R1.2bn government grant. [Online]
Available at: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2020-04-06-distressed-farmers-to-get-access-to-r12bn-government-grant/ [Accessed 10 April 2020].