More than 15,000 small-scale farmers in South Africa have been approved for the COVID-19 Agricultural Disaster Fund, says Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza.
Didiza said that 55,155 applications were received from smallholder and communal farmers, with the highest number of applications received from the Eastern Cape Province, followed by the Northern Cape and North West.
The R1.2 billion fund intervention aims to address the effects of Coronavirus and ensure sustainable food production post the pandemic.
“To date, 15 036 applications have been approved, valued at just over R500 million in favour of smallholder and communal farmers. Of the 15,036 approved applications, 5,494 are women, 2,493 youth and 224 people living with disability and males at 9,542,” said the Minister.
Speaking at a virtual media briefing on Sunday, Didiza said livestock has been the most requested commodity by farmers, followed by vegetables, poultry and fruits.
“Each of the approved farmers will receive inputs in line with the size of their farming operations up to a maximum of R50,000,” said the Minister.
The application process opened on 8 April and closed on 22 April 2020, with 33,000 manual application forms distributed through the department’s provincial and district offices, commodity and civil society organisations.
She added that the department will finalise its decision on the remaining applications.
R400 million allocation
The Minister said a further R400 million is being channelled to farmers within the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS), who were already approved for the department’s Stimulus Package.
She said she was “saddened” that many farmers fell by the sideway because they lacked the proper documentation to prove they are farming.
“The registration of farmers on the Producer Farmer Register will enable government to locate farmers so that targeted support can be provided,” the Minister said.
She also urged farmer organisations to assist farmers in formalising their operations, especially insofar as record keeping is concerned.