LIVING OFF THE LAND: The provincial agriculture and rural development department is supporting farmers who play an important role in providing food security. picture: gallo images
Over 200 agricultural initiatives are expected to benefit from programmes by the department of rural development and agriculture.
Tabling her R553.5m budget for the 2013/14 financial year Gauteng MEC for agriculture and rural development Nandi Mayathula Khoza said since 2009 they had supported nearly 800 small holder farmers and cooperatives with poultry and piggery production inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, diesel and herbicides.
They also helped on-farm infrastructure such as fences, gates, water-tight containers and boreholes to ensure access to irrigation water, through the Letsema/Ilima grant programme.
Mayathula Khoza said they exceeded the 2014 target of supporting farmers due to increasing demand and re-prioritisation to support more farmers.
“Our priorities for 2013/14 include support of 200 or more small holder farmers, co-operatives including a climate smart agricultural kenaf project and commercial farmers with access to markets, extension services and financial support,” she said.
Mayathula Khoza allocated the biggest chunk of R73m to sustainable agrarian reform within the thriving small and large farming sector.
“This sector plays an important role toward achieving food security, reduction of hunger and poverty, rural development, skills development, inclusive economic growth and job creation,” she said.
Mayathula Khoza said from 2009 until 2012/13 they supported a total of 2450 farmers to attend expos that exposed them to new technologies and innovations in farming.
“Our priorities for 2013/14 include support of 800 or more farmers to participate in three expos including the horticulture/flower market show.” The department trained smallholder farmers (1202) than expected on mechanisation through the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) as part of their west rand agricultural training institute.
“I’m delighted to announce that through this institute we have partnered with the North West department of agriculture and their Potchefstroom agricultural college and we will during this financial year sign a memorandum of understanding with an accredited agricultural institution.”
Mayathula Khoza thanked her former head of department Simangele Sekgobela and her team for spending 100% of the budget allocated in 2012/13.