The Mpumalanga government has released 33 farms, totaling 8,906 hectares, for emerging farmers to lease unused or underutilised or vacant state land.
This was announced by Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane during her State of the Province Address (Sopa) on Friday.
The farms have been offered to previously disadvantaged farmers for 30-year leaseholds with an option to buy.
While all business sector were hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, Mtsweni-Tsipane said the agriculture sector was the least affected in 2020 due to the demand for agricultural products.
“This sector even experienced job gains during the hard lockdown period, as it recorded growth
of more than 11% in the first 9 months of 2020,” Mtsweni-Tsipane said.
“Agriculture is one of the most employment intensive sectors of our economy. It is the only industry that has the potential of propelling our people from abject poverty into prosperity.”
The land issue was the only way to grow the sector, she said.
“Our people are yearning for land and they have told us so in no uncertain terms, she said.
To avoid previous instances when land was given to those who could not use it profitably, Mtsweni-Tsipane said all beneficiaries who have been allocated land and signed agreements will be required to do a compulsory training programme.
The provincial government will also conduct quarterly inspections on progress, with annual reports submitted.
“It is this capacity building measure that will serve as entry level training for aspirant farmers.
Quarterly inspections will be undertaken
“These farms will greatly assist in expanding our Fortune 40 programme that has a specific
focus of developing young entrepreneurs in farming.”
According to the premier, 12 of the Fortune 40 farms have been linked to retailers such as Spar, Shoprite and Boxer, as well as wholesalers and agri-hubs.
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“Our small scale farmer assistance programme called Phezukomkhono Mlimi is providing
mechanisation and input support to subsistence, emerging farmers and households
engaged in agriculture. Farmers receiving support from the government are expected to enrol in
courses offered by the AgriSETA.
“Our goal is to have an agri-hub in each of the province’s three districts as a vehicle for small scale farmers and co-operatives to connect to the formal economy via the hub which will also provide equipment, technical and operational advice,” the premier said.
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde