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Province set for maize boost

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“Our people want land and they have indicated that any piece of land will make a difference in their lives.”

FIRST SEEDS: The MEC for Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Nomandla Bloem, and Modisaotsile Motlashuping, the official responsible for the Vaalharts area, sowed the first seeds to launch the maize planting season at the Lechwiti Farm in Magogong. Pictures: Supplied

DESPITE experiencing severe drought conditions, the national crop estimates committee expects the Province to yield 13 million tons of maize this summer.

While launching the maize planting season at Lechwiti Farm in Magogong near Jan Kempdorp yesterday, the MEC for Agriculture, Agriculture, Land Reform, Rural Development, Environment and Nature Conservation, Nomandla Bloem, said the seeds that were planted yesterday, were expected to germinate by Reconciliation Day on December 16.

“The planting season for maize runs from late October until mid December.”

She added that the entire nation “needed to unite in seeking divine intervention” to assist smallholder farmers who were confronted with major challenges.

“During my district farmers’ indaba drives, one of the major requests from our farmers is the land. Land and agriculture is the backbone of our communities.

“Our people want land and they have indicated that any piece of land will make a difference in their lives.”

Bloem said the department was requested to develop a programme to address the abuse of workers and especially female workers on farms and nature reserves during this festive season.

“Abuse of our farm and nature reserve workers will not be tolerated. Their abuse is not only physical, but it also includes, among others, not giving our people proper sanitation, intolerable inhumane living conditions and providing them with unhealthy food for consumption.

“I have asked the department to develop a programme against all forms and manifestations of abuse in our sector that will respond to the realities of our Province and submit it to me early next year. The programme will be rolled out for 365 days.”

She added that the Fetsa Tlala programme aims to increase production levels of subsistence and smallholder producers by providing opportunities through the value chain with the planting of grains, mainly maize and wheat.

“The intervention further intends to increase prospects of job creation and contribute to the creation of SMME development at a local level.”

She indicated that funds had been allocated for the production of food on communal, private and land reform farms to address food security challenges in the Province.

“So far, the Frances Baard District Municipality, which is part of where we are, has contributed close to 600 hectares with a total of 14 irrigation farms participating in winter and summer cropping.”

Bloem stated that communities would be encouraged to establish their own produce and vegetable gardens.

“Our extension officers should remain on standby to assist our communities wherever they are needed.”