Help at hand for struggling farms

Sakhile Mokoena

Sakhile Mokoena

Mpumalanga's Agriculture Department plans to revive declining business in farms that are facing difficulty under new owners who benefited from the land restitution process.

Diana Pule, the MEC for agriculture, yesterday said: "We are going to help all those new land owners who have not made any improvement since they got back their land."

The decline in business in most returned farms was attributed to a lack of farming skills and insufficient funds to continue where the previous owners had left off.

Another problem was that of too many owners on small pieces of land, said Pule.

An average farm can cost a minimum of R3million a year to keep afloat.

Pule said some of the struggling farms will benefit from the comprehensive agricultural support programme.

Premier Thabang Makwetla announced an R84million budget for the project.

Makwetla also announced other agricultural projects to be started in the next financial year.

He said: "These are high-impact projects that will contribute towards job creation and poverty alleviation."

The projects include macadamia, sugar cane, essential oils and soya bean farming.

The province has also budgeted R30 million for the expansion of the Masibuyele'masimini programme.

Through the programme the government provides emerging farmers with tractors and seeds.

So far it has reached more than 2000 beneficiaries.