Municipalities must prioritise food production and food security

Incubation of young and emerging black farmers needs more attention.
Incubation of young and emerging black farmers needs more attention.
Image: Gino Santa Maria/123RF

Mpumalanga MEC for agriculture, rural development, land and environmental affairs Mandla Msibi says food production and security should be at the centre of municipalities’ integrated development plans, especially to give skills to young people. 

Delivering the department’s R1.2bn 2021/2022 budget in Mbombela on Tuesday, Msibi said more focus would be given to the incubation of young farmers and emerging black farmers. 

We want the province to move to a state where every municipality puts agriculture and training of young people towards agriculture as a priority in their IDP. From the last Census on Commercial Agriculture of 2017, the demographic details of a farm manager and/or operator, indicated that 40% of them were 55 years and above. Ninety percent of these being male and 9% female, with 86% of them being White, 9% Black African, 3% Coloured and 1% being Indian or Asian," Msibi said.

“It is clear that the sector is exposed to the risk of losing the much needed and essential skill that is critical for ensuring food security. The department is continuously adapting its models of service delivery with the view of increasing its effort of attracting young farmers to renew the farming sector.”

He said the pandemic had exposed how food security needed to be taken seriously and to revitalise the agricultural sector into a career of choice among young people. 

“As the department through the Phezukomkhono Mlimi, the focus has been in providing seeds, chemicals and training to the mostly unbankable farms (those turned away by mainstream financial institutions).

“We also provide mechanisation to address limited or unavailability of mechanisation at farm level, to ensure food security at homestead,” Msibi said.

The department has set targets to:

Plough and plant 15,400ha for food production;

Provide support in the form of Covid smart online vegetable growing education, seeds, compost and suitable easily replicable vegetable growing technologies to 510 food gardens; and

Provide 4,540 households with agricultural food production initiatives.

He said R34m had been set aside to achieve the training into securing young people into agriculture and revitalise the sector. 

He said to date 207,557ha of land had been acquired for distribution to qualifying farmers through various strategies, including Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development and Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy.

On land, Msibi said: “The issue of land in South Africa is a very emotional and thorny subject for our people. Many of them are still landless after the dispossession of our forefathers, thereby depriving them of their inherent dignity.

Where land has been successfully transferred, some beneficiaries face challenges of instability within some Community Property Associations (CPAs) and this we are resolving as a matter of priority. We need to close the gap on the issues of CPA’s and land, and we must minimise the challenges faced by the people on issues of land claims and CPA’s whose executives have not be changed, for years, this must be addressed.”

He said the “status of our CPAs in the province is required in identification of challenges and interventions for mitigation; all CPAs whose term of office has expired must be re-constituted”.

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