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SA: Thoko Didiza: Address by Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, during the media briefing on Presidential Economic Stimulus Package for subsistence producers (07/12/2020)

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SA: Thoko Didiza: Address by Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, during the media briefing on Presidential Economic Stimulus Package for subsistence producers (07/12/2020)

Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza

8th December 2020

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Deputy Ministers Mcebisi Skwatsha and Sdumo Dlamini,
Acting Director-General Moeketsi Ramasodi,
Senior managers present,
And Members of the media,
Good morning

On the 15th of October 2020, President Ramaphosa tabled the Economic Recovery Plan. In the interventions announced, the President announced the employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods. President further indicated that the employment stimulus includes direct support for livelihoods and the protection of jobs in vulnerable sectors.

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It is in this context that R1 billion rand was allocated in order to support 75 000 small-scale farmers whose production was disrupted by the pandemic. It is appreciated that while the agricultural sector was negatively impacted upon, athe sub-sistance producers and house hold producers remain the most affected. These are producers who utilize land in the back yards of their homes, gardens in communal areas all of which are more or less the size of a soccer field. It is these producers who create a bulwark against the fight of food insecurity at household level. These are producers who do not earn any other income, but these small patches of land remain their source of employment and livelihoods. It is them that currently our agricultural policies do not address their needs adequately. It is these producers who may be defined as unbankable by our financial sector, and yet their role is important in providing food security for many families in our country.

As part of the employment stimulus, these are the producers government will support. Within these producers in the majority are women. We have therefore decided to target fifty per cent of women to be beneficiaries in this intervention. Forty per cent of these will be youth and six per cent will target people with disabilities and unemployed military veterans.

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Friday last week we issued a statement announcing the implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Package for subsistence producers.

The Presidential Stimulus Package for subsistence producers is aimed at sustaining and increasing employment in the agricultural sector. In excess of 75 000 subsistence producers will be supported with farming input vouchers, to retain self-employment in the sector, while supporting food value chains.

During the implementation of this programme, the department will employ unemployed Narysec Youth and unemployed Agricultural Graduates to work as verification officers. This youth employment initiative will support the creation of jobs in excess of six thousand (6 000) temporary jobs.

The reason for us to announce last week, calling for interested people to apply before the official opening of the application process, so that everyone has a have a week to prepare themselves.

Application process

The application process will be done in an automated process. We have looked at the most simple, affordable and accessible way which all South Africans possess-the cell phone. We have worked with one of our mobile telephone companies, Vodacom whose platform and reach will assist us in this work. Applications will be done through the USSD code.

The number is *134*4536#

This is a free application process and application forms will be accessible from your cell phone once you enter the USSD code. Application forms will be available in all 11 official languages. The Department will take 150 000 applications by using the USSD system. The principle of first come first serve per provinces will apply.

Qualifying Criteria

The following minimum qualifying criteria will apply: Applicants should be 18 years old or older, have a South African ID, not employed by government, currently actively involved in agricultural production and not having received DALRRD support in the current financial year.

Applicants are notified that only ONE application per household will be permitted. Specific targeted commodities that will be supported will take into consideration the agricultural calendar in line with the commodities that are produced in the season including livestock.

Subsistence farmers must note that the type and quantities of support provided will be limited to the commodity applied for and the size of the current operation physically verified on site. The amount of support will range between R1000 and R9000. 

When does the application process open?

The date for opening up for the applications will be the 10th of December 2020 and will clause on the 22nd December 2020.

Responses to applicants

Applicants will receive notices in January 2021

Conclusion

It is our hope that this intervention will ensure that we retain employment of these producers and offer opportunities for employment to unemployed NARYSEC graduates and unemployed Agriculture Graduates.

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