Agriculture department to assist marginalised and youth
The establishment of a vet school, infrastructure support and financial injections into youth programmes — these are some of the priorities for the agricultural sector.
Rural development and agrarian reform MEC Nomakhosazana Meth, who delivered her policy speech on Tuesday, emphasised the importance of assisting marginalised individuals in the agriculture sector.
“It is therefore critical for the state to prioritise the most marginalised and the poor, especially smallholder producers, women and youth (including agricultural graduates),” Meth said, speaking on land redistribution, with a total of 700,000 hectares set aside for disposal in accordance with the new selection policy.
Meth said the department would package the land parcels into investment portfolios that could attract private capital and make land productive, feed society and create jobs for the youth.
She said this was aimed at creating a new generation of farmers through targeted support programmes.
“Honourable Speaker, during this term, the department will facilitate partnerships between young farmers and commercial agro-business enterprises where the commercial business will be required to mentor/train and provide off-take agreements to enable the mentees to penetrate new markets.
“In the 2020/2021 financial year, this programme is targeting 150 young farmers in all six districts of the province.”
Meth said the province would also develop a veterinary school at the University of Fort Hare.
Meth said the department had set aside R5.4m for the 2020/2021 financial year to drive the veterinary school initiative, which has partnerships with universities in the US and Germany.
In the poultry and piggery sector, the department has set aside R7.2m to support infrastructure and production inputs in all districts.
“This project will be targeting youth, women and people with disabilities who are already in the poultry and piggery business and are willing to produce for the market,” she said.
“A total of 2,000 farmers and 210 farm workers will be capacitated in primary agricultural production and agribusiness skills.
“In support of all these youth and farmer capacitation programmes, the department has set aside a budget of R15.5m,” she said.
The department has further allocated R4.6m to pilot rural training and market development.
This initiative will primarily target individuals who recently matriculated.