The Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Department has announced measures to help subsistence farmers who have been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These are producers who utilise land in the backyard of their homes, gardens and communal areas, all of which were more or less the size of a soccer field,” according to Minister Thoko Didiza.
She told a press briefing this week that from December 10 to 22, all subsistence producers would be able to apply for the stimulus package for subsistence farming.
The announcement forms part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s employment stimulus plan, aimed at injecting employment opportunities in certain sectors of the economy.
The department was looking to distribute R1-billion, with support packages ranging from R1000 to R9000.
The application process would be automated, and subsistence producers interested in benefitting, would be able to apply via their cellphones using the department’s USSD code.
Didiza also said that the principle of first come first serve per provinces would also apply, as 150 applications via the USSD system would be taken.
The minister admitted during the briefing that the country’s agricultural policies did not adequately address the needs of subsistence farmers.
“It is these producers who create the bulwark against the fight for food insecurity at household levels. These are producers who do not earn any other income, but these small patches of land remain their source of employment and livelihood,” she said.
“It is these producers who may be defined as ‘un-bankable’ by our financial sectors and yet their role is important in providing food security for many households in our country.”
Mostly women would be supported.
“Within these producers, we have therefore decided to target 50% of women to be beneficiaries in this intervention. Forty percent will be youth, and 6% will target people living with disabilities and unemployed military veterans, farmworkers and farm dwellers,” she said.
“The subsistence producers’ package aims at sustaining and improving employment in the agricultural sector. We want to make sure that through the support of farming input, which they will receive through vouchers, we will retain employment in this sector while supporting the food value chains.”
The department plans on hiring unemployed National Youth Service Corps, youngsters and unemployed agricultural graduates to work as verification officers.
The youth employment initiative would create more than 6000 temporary jobs.
And, only one applicant per household would be permitted to apply for the scheme.
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