The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform says it has heeded the call to quicken their rapid land release steps and provide financial support to the farming community during this planting season.
The department has committed R800 million this financial year towards the stimulus package to provide support to women and youth farmers to ready them during this planting season to ensure sustainable food security for the nation, Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in a recent meeting with MECs, Mayors and councillors from the various provinces.
“As a country, we are fighting the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality. We should, therefore, ensure that our greater and deliberate efforts are directed and channelled towards economic empowerment of women and youth,” said the Minister.
She indicated that the two phases of the land audit have been conducted, finalised and published.
“The focus was to determine how much land was in the hands of the State in 2013. The second phase was on ownership, where we discovered that only 4% of the land was owned by blacks. The third phase is underway, where the focus is on (race and gender), the unbundling of ownership in trusts, companies and community-based organisations.”
In South Africa, women account for a large proportion of the agricultural work force, as well as heading families in rural areas. As such, Nkoana-Mashabane said this should somehow find reflection in this audit, projects and programs, while gender responsive budgeting should be done at all levels and be reflected in all government strategies.
“As a department, we acquire assets in the form of implements, equipment and mechanisation and give them to communities as start-up packages to kick start them into production. For value to be realised and lead to proper beneficiation, this requires further international and domestic investment through properly consolidated partnerships, mentoring and skilling, opening access opportunities and markets,” said the Minister.
Nkoana-Mashabane said skilling must be prioritised, as communities also possess indigenous knowledge systems that should be augmented with modern mechanisms and systems, in line with the 4th Industrial Revolution, which should see communities move from subsistence to commercialised farming.
In addition to this, she said the National Development Plan’s Vision 2030, which provides for an integrated and inclusive rural economy, is a vision that cannot be achieved by one department or sphere of government working in silos.
“We have to work together to ensure that the NDP’s vision is achieved. The goal of the engagement is to also ensure integration of projects and programmes in the rural development and land reform space, as the implementation is at all spheres of government,” said the Minister.
The meeting was to review, strategize, refocus, realign programs and projects, and review progress on the half-yearly report on the implementation of the Outcome 7 Programme of Action on Rural Development, and to share information and plans.