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Government to develop more black commercial farmers
Government is set to fast-track the transformation of the agriculture sector by increasing the number of black commercial farmers.

This will ensure ownership and control of the agricultural value chain by previously disadvantaged groups.
“Specific attention will be given to the development of 450 large scale, black commercial farmers,” said Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said on Wednesday when delivering his Budget Vote speech in the National Assembly.

The target is to have an additional 2 250 black commercial farmers by 2022.

For the financial year 2017/18, government has allocated R2.2 billion as a conditional grant to support farmers. Of this amount, R1.6 billion is for the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) and R522 million is for the Ilima/Letsema campaign, which aims to distribute agricultural starter packs to the poor.

A significant part of South Africa is unsuitable for crop production due to low rainfall and poor soil conditions, where estimates indicate that no more than 15% of the land is arable.

Resource-poor smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable because they seldom apply inputs to improve soil health, and their crops are often lacking.

The Minister committed that government will continue to support farmers with infrastructure for production, marketing and agro-processing, land preparation, establishment of orchards and production inputs; training and mentorship, as well as the South African Good Agricultural Practices (SA GAP) certification to make them market ready.

Working with the provincial departments, Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the private sector, government will help smallholder farmers’ with drought tolerant maize seeds, technical advice on drought feeding strategies for livestock as well as alternative feeding methods.

- SAnews.gov.za
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