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In light of the fact that a staggering 72% of small scale farmers failed to qualify for the Covid-19 funding relief announced by the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, in April 2020, the Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Minister to re-open the application process.
Feedback to the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development was that only 15 371 out of 54 770 applicants met the criteria to qualify for the funding.
Given the fact that the main qualifying criteria were:
- Farmers had to be South Africans or have permanent residence status;
- They had to have been producing food for a minimum of 12 months;
- They had to have an annual turnover from R20 thousand to R1million; and
- They had to be formally registered on the National Farmers Register or any provincial farmer related register.
It seems utterly implausible that only 28% of small scale and subsistence farmers could qualify for relief aid.
The agriculture sector has had a lot of misfortune in recent years. Droughts and diseases have sown destruction on farms of all scales. Every promise of relief then was broken, and it seems like the Department is once again singing the same old song.
Farmers of all scales are once again left to fend for themselves.
The Minister must see reason and re-open the application process to those farmers that were not successful, and this time ensure that effective plans are in place to assist them to qualify for the funding.
The DA also calls on the Minister to open relief applications to medium-scale farmers with a turnover of up to R100 million per year. Much of South Africa’s food security is in the hands of medium scale farmers, and they are once again left in the dark.