The Provincial Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs (DARDLEA), has tabled a R1.5 billion budget for the financial year 2023-2024 on Thursday June 8.
According to the MEC for DARDLEA, Busi Shiba, this amount will enable her department to deliver on the plans for this year, following on their previous successes.
Known for their innovative programmes and initiatives to benefit farmers in Mpumalanga, Shiba is now focussing the department’s efforts on commercialising historically disadvantaged farmers through their “Greening Mpumalanga” programme. This is already taking shape and green shoots are sprouting across each of the Food Basket Corridors.
“With its temperate agro-ecological zone and high rainfall region, Chief Albert Luthuli Municipality (CALM) is conducive to yearlong vegetable cultivation. Six Communal Property Associations (CPA’s) were selected for comprehensive on- and off-farm infrastructure development. This included security fencing, park homes, pack-houses, power supply, water development, irrigation systems, ploughing and planting of fields, as well as production inputs, farmer training and capacity building and extension and advisory services.
“We also linked them to markets, including the government nutrition school and hospital programmes, in addition to local retailers such as SPAR and Boxer in Elukwatini, Nhlazatshe. From here, we were able to plough and plant over 200 hectares of land that is now in full production, sustaining an average of 174 new jobs with workers sourced from the eManzana area.”
The MEC also said that livestock production is significant in the province and a vital contributor to the economy, ensuring food security and job opportunities. However, most subsistence farmers face challenges such as a poor livestock genetic pools, access to markets, affordable finance support and biosecurity issues.
The Masibuyele Esibayeni initiative mitigates these challenges by providing farmers with a better genetic pool of livestock, farm infrastructure, veterinary services, community abattoirs and markets. So far, this had seen 572 animals provided to these farmers, including cattle, pigs, goats and sheep, benefiting 22 farms with regards to animal husbandry,” Shiba highlighted the already successful initiative.
Poultry production is a key agricultural commodity of national and international importance. During the current financial year, DARDLEA will build an additional two broiler houses for 43 000 chickens per cycle. These would have full agro-processing facilities including an abattoir and packaging unit for Nkanyezi Poultry at Tjakastad. Eggsellent would receive lay houses for 23 000 hens at Lebo in Kwaggafontein, Thembisile Hani, Nkangala.
The 2023/24 financial year budget, which is allocated to nine programmes, had been split as follows:
Administration would receive R170 918 000 of the total budget, while
Sustainable Resource Management’s cut amounts to R65 601 000);
Six hundred and sixty-seven million, five hundred and thirty-seven thousand Rand (R667 537 000) had been budgeted for Farmer Support and Development and R153 117 000 for Veterinary Services;
Research and Technology Development Services will receive R70 707 000 and Agricultural Economics Services, R152 899 000. Structured Agricultural Education and Training and Rural Development Coordination’s cut is R34 061 000.
The last two programmes, Rural Development Coordination and Environmental Affairs will receive R26 993 000 and R217 203 000 respectively, bringing the budget total to R1 559 036 000 to benefit the food growers of the country and eradicate food scarcity.