Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP.
The DA will write to the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to urgently address the serious concerns that subsistence farmers and their suppliers have with the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative (PESI) vouchers.
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) launched the PESI vouchers with the intention of supporting smallholder farmers. This programme had a number of problems, including the suppliers who served as middlemen taking more than the agreed upon fee. This has led to the Department withdrawing the voucher programme.
Both commercial and emerging farmers have already indicated that they are struggling to afford input costs. The increases in fuel price is just going to add to the misery. A study concluded by Dr Kandase Cloete before the fuel hike, revealed that one in five farmers intend to leave farming in the next 10 years.
Despite the Department’s assurance that the PESI challenges with farmers were resolved, it was recently reported that subsistence farmers in KwaZulu-Natal have been experiencing challenges to redeem their vouchers. Furthermore, there are suppliers in the Eastern Cape who complained that they were unceremoniously dropped after they were initially approved.
The Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative was meant to create job opportunities and help retain jobs on farms. However, if government’s systems and processes fail those who are vulnerable and expect their support, where are these vulnerable farmers and suppliers supposed to go? It is, therefore, not surprising that black emerging farmers have decided to take to the street and march in protest against the lack of support from government.
The Department must run a transparent system of the support programme for farmers to ensure that their complaints and appeals are listened to and addressed.
The DA will engage with the recipients of the PESI voucher to understand these new emerging issues with the redemption of the vouchers.