by Ina Cilliers MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Agriculture and Rural Development
Despite the fact that small-scale farmers play a pivotal role in the economy, the Gauteng government is failing to provide them with sufficient support.
These farmers are facing serious challenges around the lack of training and skills development in their relevant field as well as a lack of financial support and equipment.
The ongoing training of farmers, particularly women, is important as this assists with poverty alleviation and empowerment, which in turn will help improve food security in the province.
Premier David Makhura failed to outline how his department would be assisting struggling small-scale farmers in his State of the Province Address (SOPA), which he recently delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.
While the Premier acknowledged that the current economic climate in the country is pushing up the price of food and is placing immense strain on households in Gauteng, he failed to outline exactly how provincial government intended to meet these challenges.
This situation is further exacerbated by the drought which is being experienced in some parts of the country.
During the second quarter of the 2017/2018 financial year, the department failed to train the intended 80 farmers in water-saving technologies, due to a delay in appointing a service provider.
With these ongoing delays, we call on the Premier and the Agriculture and Rural Development MEC, Lebogang Maile to urgently outline exactly how provincial government will be advancing agro-processing in the province.
The research and technology development programme is of utmost importance if we are to train our farmers to adapt to a changing environment. Gauteng is ideally situated to be on the cutting edge of agro-processing because of our infrastructure and close proximity to ports that link our farmers with the rest of Africa and the rest of the world.
The DA believes that we need to increase the capacity of our farmers to access the latest developments in agriculture.
Come 2019, when we govern, we will ensure that all small-scale farmers are empowered with the tools and technology they need to help grow the economy and create more job opportunities for the people of Gauteng