The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is set to play a crucial role in the growth of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the 2017 Budget Speech.
In his speech Gordhan said focused support on labour-intensive sectors, including agriculture, agro-processing and tourism-related services, is imperative to boost short-term investment.
He added that food prices continue to reflect the impact of poor rainfall on agriculture.
According to the 2017 Budget, nearly R30bn has been allocated by 2019/20 to support economic growth on agriculture, rural development and land reform programmes, the largest portion allocated over the medium-term expenditure framework period.
Over the medium term, the department plans to support about 435 000 subsistence and smallholder farmers through providing farm equipment, fencing, fertilisers, seedlings and other essentials; disbursing a grant through the comprehensive agricultural support programme; and repairing flood-damaged infrastructure.
The budget also stated that through the R5.3bn comprehensive agriculture support programme grant, the department will play a crucial role in supporting smallholder farmers who will supply produce to agri-park initiatives across South Africa.
The agriculture, forestry and fisheries department also plans to increase financial support to emerging producers by R370m over the medium term, which will be accessed through the Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa.
The amount has been reprioritised from funding for provincial conditional grants, and will provide loans to qualifying producers.
The loans will improve producers’ access to production inputs (such as fertilisers, seeds, seedlings and chemicals) and farm infrastructure, to increase the participation of emerging producers in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.