Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza has announced a support package for small-scale farmers via the presidential stimulus package. Didiza said R1 billion had been set aside to assist more than 75 000 small-scale farmers whose production was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The subsistence producers will be supported with farming input vouchers ranging between R1 000 and R9 000 to help retain self-employment in the sector, while supporting food value chains.

“It is appreciated that while the agricultural sector was negatively impacted upon, subsistence as well as household producers remain the most affected,” said Didiza.https://www.agriorbit.com/saai-welcomes-the-transfer-of-state-farmland-to-farmers/embed/#?secret=Ib25eFfBjC

“These are producers who utilise land in the back yards of their homes, and gardens in communal areas, all of which are more or less the size of a soccer field. It is these producers who create a bulwark against food insecurity at household level.”

As part of the employment stimulus, government was supporting these producers who do not earn any other income, whose small patches of land remain their source of employment and livelihoods, said Didiza.

“Currently our agricultural policies do not address their needs adequately. It is these producers who may be defined as unbankable by our financial sector. However, their role is important in providing food security for many families in our country.”

Most of these small-scale farmers are women, and therefore the government has decided to target 50% of women to be beneficiaries in this intervention; 40% will be youth and 6% will target people with disabilities and unemployed military veterans.

How to apply

Applications for the small-scale farmer support will open on 10 December and close on 22 December. Applications can be done via cell phone, by dialling 1344536#.

The application process is free and application forms will be accessible once an applicant has entered the USSD code. Application forms will be available in all eleven official languages.

Applicants need to:

  • Be 18 years old or older.
  • Have a valid South African ID.
  • Not be employed by the government.
  • Be actively involved in agricultural production.
  • Not have received support from the department in the current financial year.
  • Be working on land that is one hectare or less.

Only one application per household will be permitted.

Didiza said specific targeted commodities to be supported would take into consideration the agricultural calendar, in line with the commodities produced in the season, including livestock. The type and scale of support provided will be limited to the commodity applied for and the size of the operation physically verified on site. Successful applicants will be notified in January.