Cut out the middleman and let farmers get full value from PES vouchers

The DA has been inundated with concerns raised by subsistence producers who applied and received Presidential Employment Stimulus (PES) vouchers to help them buy inputs for this current cycle of farming.

While we support any agricultural initiative to improve food security and create and retain jobs, the DA does not condone initiatives that empower third parties whose role in the initiative is not clear.

Concerns raised by subsistence farmers include that on arrival at suppliers to redeem the vouchers, they are directed to the middlemen seated inside or outside the stores. These persons expect the subsistence farmers to buy the products less 27% of the price of the voucher in order that the middleman can pocket the 27% commission agreed to with the government.

The most popular commission structure ranges between 5% and 15%, and we wonder how the government which has enormous financial struggles managed to agree to an exorbitant 27% commission structure.

This is another example of wasteful expenditure to agree on a commission without outlining clear performance indicators by the service providers. The DA intends raising this matter at the portfolio committee and ask for the appearance of the department to explain these arrangements.

The DA agrees fully with farmers who are raising concerns that the government is not getting value for money. Farmers are appealing to the government to issue them with vouchers without an obligation towards these middlemen or agents who often don’t understand their farming operations.

The DA calls on subsistence farmers with vouchers who are being charged above the normal prices on their input items to report these issues by contacting the DA or the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. Further, we request the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to review these arrangements with the middlemen and get more money in the hands of the producers.