Bhisho injects R20m to help farmers
The Eastern Cape provincial government has made R20m available for farmers and households to improve food production in the province.
This was done to ensure commercial viability of farms during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rural development and agrarian reform MEC’s spokesperson Ayongezwa Lungisa said the provincial coronavirus command council had approved the multimillion-rand project.
“The decision to inject R20m to buy food production inputs for 10,000 vulnerable households is the provincial government’s sustainable solution to food insecurity, poverty and hunger.
“Driven by MEC Nomakhosazana Meth, the programme will see government assisting 10,000 households with inputs like vegetable seedlings, fertiliser, chemicals for production, medicine for livestock, indigenous chickens for eggs and meat,” Lungisa said.
The government is expected to distribute vouchers to each of the identified 10,000 households throughout the province.
Lungisa said about 10,608 farmers in the province had submitted applications for funding from the Covid-19 Agricultural Disaster Support Fund which aimed to provide production input grants up to R50,000 per producer.
“The provincial government believes that these support packages will make a meaningful contribution to the lives of families and households that require sustainable food production and will buoy commercial viability of farms critical to the growth of the Eastern Cape economy,” he said.
Lungisa also announced that R63.4m would be distributed to seven Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) farms in the province from the Covid-19 Agricultural Disaster Support Fund from the national government.
Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern said he was unaware of the funding.
He said farmers were in trouble and if they were not assisted they would be in further trouble.
“We need to engage with the government to assist people in need; subsistence and commercial farmers are in trouble and it is important that we look after them.
“I’ll support it [the funding] as long as there is no corruption involved. There seems to be a culture of corruption, there was corruption in the aiding during the drought and it must be monitored very carefully,” Stern said.
Gamtoos Farmers’ Association chair Petrus du Preez said at this stage they were uncertain if funding was needed in their area as they predominately farmed citrus produce for export.
“On the back of the Covid-19 our dam is at 10.2%; if we overcome Covid-19 our next challenge is the drought. We still have 99% employment.
“We are still hoping to keep that employment rate, only in August and September will we have a clearer picture of what is happening in citrus farming.”