South Africa: Premier Unveils Programme to Enhance Agricultural Production
KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, has unveiled the Multi-Planting Season Programme, which aims to provide necessary assistance to underprivileged farmers and ensure that thousands of emerging farmers are trained, and prepared to lead in agricultural production.
Unveiling the programme during an event held on Tuesday at UMlamulankunzi Stadium in Ugu District Municipality, Dube-Ncube said the multi-planting season is a strategic programme that is aimed at getting rid of poverty, inequality and unemployment through inclusive rural economic development by investing in agriculture.
She said through the programme, government enhances the capability of farmers by supporting them to optimise agricultural production throughout all seasons and provide technical information and extension support.
“Additionally, we mobilise farmers in the province to take into consideration the different locations and geographies for planting periods in context of weather conditions,” Dube-Ncube said.
The Premier noted that agricultural potential of KwaZulu-Natal remains untapped, and the province has a diverse topography, climate and good soil, and it is poised to lead South Africa’s agriculture revolution.
If government succeeds, she said the frontiers of degrading poverty, underdevelopment, hunger, and unemployment can be pushed back.
“In order to alleviate the plight faced by rural poor communities which is partially caused by inadequate operational farming resources, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development introduced the Multi- Planting Season Programme aimed at lending a helping hand to rural farmers to participate in the mainstream economy of the province through developing vast tracks of underutilised land,” Dube-Ncube said.
Over 10 000 beneficiaries to benefit from the programme
The Premier also highlighted that the planting season programme has a potential to create 500 job opportunities during and post operations, through various services, including but not limited to tractor operators, crop management and harvesting services, amongst others.
“The implementation of the programme is envisaged to reach approximately 10 209 beneficiaries across the province. The majority of the beneficiaries comprise almost 65% of female beneficiaries represented by approximately 6 644 people.
“Furthermore, approximately 962 youth and 84 disabled people involved in agriculture will also benefit from the support provided,” she said.
R55m allocated to accommodate mechanisation services
The Premier announced that a total budget of R55.5 million has been made available for 2022/23 Multi Planting Season Programme to accommodate only the mechanisation services excluding two mechanisation activities, namely first and second spraying.
“In year 2022/23, Mechanisation Service Providers who are on a three year contract will be utilised. Ugu District have prepared request memos for mechanisation and submitted them to Supply Chain Management (SCM).
“The Department procured 14. Therefore departmental mechanisation units will be used in eThekwini, iLembe and King Cetshwayo where it is not feasible to use service providers,” Dube-Ncube said.
One million hectares needed for production
Dube-Ncube said the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2019-2024 has indicated that the country needs to put one million hectares to production, and KZN province is expected to contribute significantly to the target due to geographical size and location.
“In developing vast tracts of underutilised agricultural land through increased production, the department provides comprehensive mechanisation services, land preparation service which is inclusive of production inputs and mechanisation to indigent, vulnerable households and underprivileged communities to increase their level of agricultural crop production,” she said.
Using the multi-planting programme, she said the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development provides support to KZN farmers through the supply of production inputs, including fertilizer, seed and chemicals; provision of mechanization services, including ploughing, dicing, planting and application of agro-chemicals and fertilizer; and assistance with marketing of produce especially through the government lead Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation programme (RASET) and other outlets.
“The planting season focuses more on the production of summer crops (maize and beans) and vegetable production in support of the RASET programme. It promotes the development of agricultural crop production placing significance in the summer planting.
“Farmers, especially subsistence and smallholder producers, rely on the produce planted during this period for staple commodities, which supply starch and protein source for their food security requirements. The programme is further designed to provide better access to food and create an opportunity for localised production in order to promote equitable access by the resource poor households,” Dube-Ncube said.
The Premier also called on all traditional leaders in the province to continue collaborating with government and the people of KwaZulu-Natal in realising the economic potential of the land in their jurisdiction.
“Working together, we must make the land productive again and use its produce to defeat hunger and restore the dignity of our people, especially the vulnerable rural poor. Our beloved departed monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini KaBhekuzulu, always encouraged the people of the province to focus on agriculture to eradicate poverty and promote healthy living,” Dube-Ncube said.