KZN IN A BID TO BOOST FARMERS

THE KwaZulu-Natal government announced an agrarian reform plan that will see the province's emerging black farmers working closely with white farmers to use agriculture as a catalyst for economic development.

THE KwaZulu-Natal government announced an agrarian reform plan that will see the province's emerging black farmers working closely with white farmers to use agriculture as a catalyst for economic development.

"In view of the recession, we identified agriculture as a catalyst for economic development. A lot has been done in the past few months to ensure that our goal becomes a success," premier Zweli Mkhize said yesterday.

He was speaking during the state of the province address at Pietermaritzburg Royal Showgrounds.

A special-purpose vehicle known as the agribusiness development agency had been formed to support emerging black commercial farmers and rescue the land reform projects from collapse, he said.

Mkhize said the new agency had secured R239million from the government to help emerging farmers.

"With these resources, the agency will create 1099 permanent jobs and 2538 seasonal jobs in the agri-business sector," he said. "It will also assist in sustaining and growing 1045 entrant black commercial farmers."

Mkhize was happy that many white farmers had agreed to help emerging black farmers.

Freedom Front Plus members had shown a willingness to ensure skills transfer in the agricultural sector.

The provincial government was also working closely with them to ensure that concerns raised by farmers, such as crime, were addressed.

Mkhize said government assistance was needed to rescue emerging farmers who had been driven into bankruptcy by a lack of farming skills and experience.

He was happy that 13 of the 32 farms identified as being on the verge of repossession had been assisted with re-planting and management.

Mkhize said seven abandoned farms would form part of the incubator programme of the department of rural development and land reform and the Land Bank. - Sapa

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