Home News Over 8 000 NC small-scale farmers apply for assistance

Over 8 000 NC small-scale farmers apply for assistance

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The MEC said she hoped that the intervention would ease the pressure facing farmers during the lockdown period.

MORE than 8 000 smallholder and subsistence farmers in the Northern Cape have applied for intervention assistance amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Northern Cape MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform, Nomandla Bloem, said the application process for the coronavirus (Covid-19) intervention programme for smallholder and subsistence farmers in the Province was a huge success.

This follows after the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, announced last month that the government had set aside R1.2 billion to support smallholder and subsistence farmers during the country’s battle against the coronavirus.

The closing date for applications was April 22, 2020.

“About R400 million of these funds was set aside for farmers who are supported through the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) and R750 million for smallholder farmers on small parcels of land and communal land,” said Bloem.

She added that although some farmers experienced challenges during the application process, these had been ironed out.

“There were farmers who had challenges in reaching the district offices on time to submit their applications.  Despite this, the Northern Cape managed to receive more than 8 000 application forms by the due date.

“There were various setbacks, especially with the number of roadblocks in most areas of our Province due to the lockdown. Some farmers had to go back and get permits to access our offices. Others indicated to us that they were unable to get bank statements on time because of the long queues at various financial institutions. However, our officials at the district offices and at head office did their best to assist where they could. Even though we were hoping for more, we are happy with the number of application forms we received.” 

Bloem said that the bulk of the applications were from the John Taolo Gaetsewe District.

“The highest number of application forms were collected in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District with 4 129 submissions, followed by Namaqua with a tally of 1 534. The ZF Mgcawu recorded 1 115 applications, Frances Baard 1 106 and Pixley ka Seme 365 submissions. The total number of application forms received was 8 249,” she said.

The following commodities will be supported:

* Poultry:

Day old chicks, point of lay chickens, feed, medication and sawdust;

* Vegetables:

Seedlings, fertiliser, pesticides, herbicides and soil correction;

* Fruits:

Final spraying programmes for fruit that are ready for harvest;

* Other livestock:

Feed and medication;

* Winter field crops:

Soil correction, fertilisers, seeds, herbicides and pesticides.

Bloem added that she hoped that the intervention would ease the pressure facing farmers during the lockdown period.

“We hope that the funding will go a long way in assisting our smallholder and subsistence farmers in sustaining the agricultural sector value chain. More so because food security and production are very important to avoid any food shortages in our country at this time. 

“I would also like to thank the farmer organisations for spreading the information to their members and assisting with the disbursement of the application forms,” concluded Bloem.