The KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is moving forward with resilience and with optimism. The Department is laying the foundation to adapt the way we do agriculture so that we can deal with climate change. We are continuing with our Strategy for Agrarian Transformation to revitalise agriculture and the agro-processing value chain in KwaZulu-Natal. This is aimed at fulfilling the aims of the National Development Plan to develop an inclusive rural economy to ensure that our rural areas become economically active, create jobs, eradicate poverty and ensure food security. The Strategy commits us to bringing more hectares under irrigation, converting underutilized land in communal area and land reform projects into commercial production.
The Department used its initiative and looked within its own coffers to roll out over R220 million as a drought lifeline to farmers. Forty five million of this amount came from the CASP and Ilima/Letsema conditional grants.
The intervention was offered on a sliding scale with the bulk of the relief going to subsistence and struggling small-holder farmers with commercial farmers also benefitting, albeit to a limited extent, in order to protect jobs.
- R60 million went to inputs for livestock and water harvesting.
- R45 million for the scooping of 75 dams and the rehabilitation/building of 62 boreholes across the province.
- R9 million for an aggressive de-worming campaign. De-worming the stock, helped reduce stress in the animals to ensure that feed is used efficiently.
- R45 million for the provision of hay.
- R69 million, of which R41 million, has already been transferred went to the sugar sector.
- An additional R71 million also provided by the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development.
Livestock – Goat Farming
The Department has a partnership with HEIFER SA, Mdukatshani Rural Development Project and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to commercialize the untapped potential of goats. A Goat Master Plan for KwaZulu-Natal has been drawn up. The master plan envisages that within the next 5 years, 7000 farmers will be commercialized and goat productivity will have doubled. This initiative includes research, extension, training, value-adding and marketing. It was introduced through a major Goat Expo and Goat Meat cooking competition held in Msinga on 30 January 2016, which was addressed by His Majesty the King.
Linked to this cooperation, is the publication of the Goat Production Handbook produced by the partners of this programme. It will play an important role in transferring technology to, and the training of, goat farmers. Another exciting breakthrough is the development of a home-made, brick-sized protein-energy-mineral block which has the potential to make a significant positive impact on the survival rate of kids and goat production in rural areas. The Master plan starts with pilot projects in Msinga, Nkandla, Nongoma, Jozini, Umhlabuyalinga and Hlabisa – all areas that have suffered the worst effects of the drought.
Goat meat known as chevon is popular the world over, especially in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Caribbean. It is growing in popularity in Western countries because the meat is low in kilojoules, high in protein and iron and is seen as a healthier alternative to beef and pork.
THE STRATEGY FOR AGRARIAN TRANSFORMATION ON TRACK
Research alone is academic, unless it is informed by awareness of problems on-farm and supported by extension. To revitalise the agriculture and agro-processing value chain, we have to take our small-holder farms into the hi-tech world of the 21st century.
With this in mind and to improve agricultural productivity during the 2016/17 Financial Year, the KZN DARD’s Agricultural Research Services have a total of 96 registered projects. Topics of these applied research projects include:
- Research projects on aspects of Conservation Agriculture.
- Value adding to processed peach products in the Impendle area
- Potato trials in collaboration with Potato South Africa are being conducted in a number of rural communities
- Sweet potato research in collaboration with UKZN
- Plant disease and weed control experiments
- Indigenous livestock research
- The monitoring of cropping trends via soil surveys to increase macadamia nut production
Nguni Cattle Programme
The Department’s Nguni Cattle Programme has made progress. A total of 1364 cattle were distributed in 2012 and despite losses due to natural elements, there was an increase of 67% within the stock, bringing the number of cattle to 2278. Four years on, farmers are able to return the offspring, as agreed upon in the contract. This success may signal the return of the programme.
State of the Art Piggery
Through the Agribusiness Development Agency (ADA) young people have been studying animal husbandry at the Dalum Agribusiness academy in Demark. A spin off of this partnership is a state-of-the-art pig production unit to be set up to demonstrate the highest standard of pig production and to absorb the returning young farmers trained in Denmark.
Animal Health Care
Like our scientists, the Veterinary Services in our Department have been doing sterling work. The service received a boost with the commencement of Compulsory Community Services for new veterinary graduates. There are currently ten graduates working in the Department. In addition, there are five well-branded mobile Animal Health Care clinics that became operational this year.
An exciting development in boosting Animal Health Care in communal areas is that the Department will be investing R20 million a year over the next three years on a KZN Diptank Assistants Program. This program will employ, train and equip 900 dip tank assistants to provide support at a local level in the management of the Province’s 1800 dip tanks. The assistants will be called Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWS). The program will be piloted in Sisonke, Umzinyathi and Umkhanyakude District Municipalities.
The Veterinary Services will continue with their vaccination campaigns. The success of this is clearly visible in the decline of Rabies cases in the province. All requirements of the World Organization on Animal Health (OIE) with regards to managing Foot and Mouth Disease, have been met. We have however, encountered problems with the Red Line Fence separating the infected area from the infection free zone. The fence has been regularly vandalized by members of the public going in search of water. The Department remains committed to ensuring there is no further outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.
At the heart of everything that we do, is upliftment of the poor. The Department is set to establish 1370 household food gardens, 170 community gardens, 190 Institutional gardens and 198 food tunnels. The idea is not to dish out seeds in the hope that people will establish gardens. The Department is offering a starter pack including seeds, broiler chickens and goats, if desired as well as skills training and support. The objective is for households to get a kick-start and encouragement to grow their enterprises.
Fisheries and Forestry
It is the aim of the KZN DARD to, over time, facilitate a business enabling environment for aquaculture through institutional capacity and skills development across the whole value chain. An Aquaculture post has been established within the Department for driving the Aquaculture Programme in the province.
Infrastructure Development and Enhancing the Agro-Processing Value Chain
Small-holder farms remain trapped within the informal economy due to a lack of market infrastructure such as pack-houses, abattoirs, silos and processing plants. Most agriculture markets are impermeable to small producers. For example, processors and retail chains have stringent procurement policies such as international quality standards (GlobalGAP), labelling and exclusive contractual arrangements.
In this regard, five irrigation schemes will be set up in Amajuba, Harry Gwala and Umgungundlovu Districts at a total cost of R22,5 million. We have changed the policy on the support for irrigation development in that, irrigation schemes up to 55ha will now be funded through a 100% grant.
In addition, the Department will implement agro-processing projects to the value of R145 million across the province:
- Goat abattoirs (at Nongoma, Msinga, Uthukela)
- Cattle abattoir at Jozini, Bhambanana, which is 95% complete
- Tannery (Uthukela)
- Vegetable value addition (eThekwini and Stanger)
- Winery bottling facility (uThukela)
- Maize milling and silos in Zululand
- Industrial crops: Sweet sorghum biofuels (Ugu). EIA is a priority for the approval of the energy licence
- Essential Oils (Uthungulu, Harry Gwala and Umgungundlovu)
Implementation over 2 years starting in 16/17
- Dairies (2 in Harry Gwala District and 1 in Amajuba with a twenty four month implementation window)
- Marula processing plant in Umkhanyakude. The building of the plant has been completed and in this financial year, oil abstraction equipment will be installed