Strong backing for emerging farmers

first_img14 April 2010Emerging farmers from South Africa’s Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces are set to receive a R100-million boost in the form of tractors from the government.In a pre-budget briefing in Cape Town this week, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said the first consignment of the department’s mechanisation programme would be in support of the Masibuyele Emasimini, a food production intensification programme.The mechanisation programme will be rolled out in other provinces and supported by investments of R50-million per province over the next three years.Private sector supportJoemat-Pettersson said the department had also received offers from a number of multinational companies to help develop smallholders, while guaranteeing them access to international markets.The US supermarket Walmart had approached the department to develop a mentorship programme and market access model for their outlets.Joemat-Pettersson also commended Old Mutual’s pledge to make available R10-million to bolster subsistence and smallholder enterprises, and Nedbank’s creation of a R6-billion agricultural fund, which would invest half its corpus in South African farming projects in areas ranging from crop production, animals, skills and marketing.Nedbank had emphasised that they wanted to partner with the department both locally and abroad, she said, while pointing out that private-public partnerships would take the country a “long way” in its developing farming.Land reform, mentorshipThe department would also conduct an audit on land reform projects and had been allocated R577.6-million through the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme, which provides funding for training and services such as information technology support.“We are not just throwing money at failed projects. We have assessed the affected projects and determined projects that can be rescued,” said Joemat-Pettersson.She said the department planned to conduct an audit of its mentorship and equity scheme programmes, as these had not worked, despite the investment of millions to bridge skills. The department was also in consultation with the Department of Higher Education about opening agricultural colleges to boost learning facilities and opportunities.Equity sharing, joint venturesThe department would also investigate and implement equity sharing schemes that would involve equal ownership between land reform beneficiaries and white commercial farmers.Joemat-Pettersson explained that the plan was for commercial farmers to engage in joint ventures with land reform beneficiaries, who were supported by government.She said the land would not be a part of the shareholding investment, and that the government would recapitalise the equity portion, through its development finance organisations such as the Industrial Development Corporation and the Land Bank.“When the business is running profitably, the commercial farmers can then sell shares and exit the arrangement,” she said.Source: BuaNewslast_img

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