Millions reserved for crop loss

Khangale Makhado

Khangale Makhado

Limpopo's Department of Agriculture in has set aside about R119million to provide support to farmers, especially crop farmers, who have been hardest hit by the drought.

Presenting her budget speech in Lebowakgomo yesterday, agriculture MEC Dikeledi Magadzi said that compensation would have been easier to implement if all farmers were members of commodity groups.

She urged farmers to ensure that their correct details were registered with the commodity associations.

Magadzi said the department would provide assistance to the farmers in consideration of the losses they have incurred, to make sure that they did not sink deeper into debt.

Magadzi also said R11million has been set aside to fast-track the restitution process in a bid to meet the March deadline set by President Thabo Mbeki, by which time all restitution claims are expected to have been completed.

The R11million will go towards training emerging farmers, an exercise Magadzi said would ensure sustainability of farming activities after the restitution process has been finalised.

Magadzi, however, said she did not believe Limpopo will be able to meet the cut-off date set by Mbeki, because some of the highly-contested claims were now in the hands of the courts.

It was difficult, she said, to determine when the courts would reach finality on some of the disputes involving certain farms in Hoedspruit and Levubu.

Of the R1,09billion budget, R515,196million went to farmer support and development, R258,22million for administration, and R176,282million for sustainable resource development.

The remainder went to veterinary services, technology research and development, and structured training.

Last year the department achieved 99,6percent budget expenditure, its best in five years. A flagship project, community-based seed production, received a silver medal award for Public Sector Innovation of the Year.