Redesigned PES vouchers must benefit farmers

Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP.

The DA welcomes the temporary suspension of the Presidential Employment Stimulus (PES) vouchers meant to benefit smallholder farmers.

While the DA has always advocated for governmental support for the farmers when necessary, the PES vouchers have been fraught with complaints and seeming corruption from middlemen. We therefore welcome the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s (DALRRD) announcement that it would be “reviewing, reengineering and redesigning PES implementation, to address all challenges experienced”.

The DA has long tried to highlight the challenges of the current system which only served to embolden those trying to scam farmers and were of minimal benefit to those who were desperate for the support.

The DA recommends the following steps to ensure that farmers benefit from the next iteration of support:

  • Cut the middlemen and allow farmers to purchase their inputs directly from agricultural retail stores.
  • The department advertised the need for 5000 agricultural interns. Where are they deployed? They should be used to roll out the programme.

DALLRD must apply science in solving farmers’ problems. Financial aid and stimulus can only play a small part in the solution. The Department must take care to understand the specific scientific agricultural needs, and support of subsistence farmers must become the focal point.

For instance, one of the many challenges facing subsistence farmers in rural areas are the many livestock roaming the streets often causing car accidents and spreading unchecked diseases. These farmers needs government’s assistance to address these issues.