This was the main highlight of the MEC for Agriculture, Land Reform, Rural Development, Environment and Nature Conservation's budget speech.
THE MEC for Agriculture, Land Reform, Rural Development, Environment and Nature Conservation, Nomandla Bloem, highlighted the need to speed up land reform when she delivered her budget speech yesterday.
She stated that with the support of national government, the department planned to acquire
15 760 hectares of land for the 2019/20 financial year with an allocated budget of R83.5 million to accelerate land redistribution in the Province.
Bloem said smallholder farmers, farm dwellers and labour tenants, military veterans, agricultural graduates and the youth in the Province would receive preference when land was distributed.
She added that R240 million would be allocated towards land development and post settlement support during the 2019/20 financial year.
Bloem indicated that R53 million had been set aside to settle outstanding land claims amounting to R13 million, while R39.9 million was earmarked to process new land claims.
She stated that the Province would be declared a disaster area due to the drought conditions.
Bloem added that the agricultural sector was facing tough economic times.
“The impact of the drought is reflected in the employment figures, indicating a decrease in the contribution of the agricultural sector employment when compared to the total employment of the Province and against total employment of the agricultural sector on a national basis.
“While the drought in the eastern part of the Province is seasonal in nature, the drought in the western and southern parts of the Province has reached disaster levels with a large portion of farms being in the process of total shutdown.
“Animal numbers in the Hantam and Namakwa areas as well as the southern part of the Pixley ka Seme district have been reduced to under 50 percent and as low as 25 percent of its long-term stocking density. Currently almost 10 000 farms with a carrying capacity of 166 000 large stock units, covering more than 5.8 million hectares, have experienced prolonged drought.”
Bloem added that the drought was affecting the limited water for livestock, had negative implications for the growth of the livestock sector and premium brands such as the Karoo lamb as well as the production of mohair and wool.
She indicated that the department would promote climate smart solutions.
She stated that crop and horticultural production in the Province was minimally affected by the drought due to the access to irrigation water from the Vaal, Orange, Riet and Harts rivers.
“During the past season the Northern Cape contributed approximately 10 percent to the national maize and wheat production of South Africa at 680 000 tons of maize and 300 000 tons of wheat. Cotton production was 11 000 tons and groundnuts 14 000 tons. Table grape production was 19.1 million cartons, wine grape production approximately 124 000 tons and raisin production 65 000 tons. There is a significant shift towards pecan nut production and a reduction in olive production in the Province.”
Bloem added the department was launching five mega-investment projects including the Namakwa irrigation development that would be included in the Provincial Investment Book.
“The four remaining projects are being finalised. They are massive and require multiple players in order to secure the appropriate funding and support, it is therefore prudent to do it right and have bankable business cases.”
She said “significant strides” had been made to reduce irregular expenditure.
“No instances of irregular expenditure that are indicative of fraud or negligence have been identified. The message is clear that any official who attempts to circumvent supply chain management processes will face consequences. A zero tolerance attitude has been adopted for any deliberate avoidance of normal supply chain management processes, without compromising service delivery.
Bloem said that the R8.1 million LandCare conditional grant would be used to develop irrigation systems, reservoirs, install drainage systems, veld management, finalise the development of the flood disaster contingency plan and rehabilitate 3 000 hectares of agricultural land and create 100 green job opportunities.
She pointed out that the viability of the Kalahari Kid Corporation (KKC) had over the years been questioned as it was wholly dependent on the department for its funding.
Bloem indicated that the board had been stabilised under the leadership of Connie Seoposengwe.
“Losses and the mortality rates of goats at the production farms were reduced through an increase of visibility in the regions. Our stock in production farms has increased from a mere 84 goats to just over 1 700. The plan going forward is to increase the stock to 5 000 breeding goats to have the critical mass required for viability. Various infrastructure improvements are planned on the production farms so that Kalahari Kid can import goats under its own name as this will unlock the intra-Africa or South African Democratic Corporation trade agreements where there are no restrictions.”
Bloem said the entity was looking to enter into a twinning agreement with the Karas region of Namibia to increase trade locally as well as abroad.
“The KKC has become a recognised brand, both locally and abroad, and has been approached by the United Arab Emirates, Ghana, Malaysia, Brunei, Qatar and Kuwait to expand its operations in order to supply large amounts of live and slaughter stock to these markets and locally to the KwaZulu-Natal market. We have received enquiries from Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and African countries, including Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, and Swaziland, for assistance in goat breeding.”
She said that R2.4 million would be allocated for the implementation of the Schmidtsdrift bush control project, which would create temporary work opportunities that provide income to the poor and unemployed.
“The project will control 4 000 hectares of black thorn in Schmidtsdrift to create 40 job opportunities for local people for a period of 12 months.”
Total budget: R538.9 million
Administration: R126.8 million
Sustainable resource management: R35.5 million
Farmer support and development: R234.4 million
Training of 1 400 farmers in agricultural production: R3 million
Extension recovery plan: R28.9 million
Veterinary services: R55.5 million
Research and technology development services: R57.8 million
EPWP: R16 million
Kalahari Kid Corporation: R3.3 million
Agricultural economic services: R12.6 million
Rural development: R16 million
Youth development: R34.4 million
Agri-parks: R47.8 million