The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is a key department within the economic cluster in stimulating growth and job creation, and it remains a kernel in the baseline sustainable economic sectors as well as rural economy, with specific interventions and support to reduce and eliminate poverty through subsistence farming.
FOOD SECURITY - Multi-Planting Season Programme
The Department has set aside R77 million to regenerate the multi-planting season (Phez’komkhono) programme in the current financial year. Even though the province has experienced unfavorable weather conditions resulting in delayed rains and consequently the start of the planting season, the Department successfully assisted farmers to plant over 11 000 hectares in the financial year 2019/20. The Department will accelerate the programme through the use and promotion of conservation tillage to enable development of more areas and protection of natural resources. Farmers will be encouraged to practice this farming method including other climate smart agricultural technologies in light of global warming and climate change.
As part of enterprise development, the Department will pilot in two districts the use of locally based SMMEs to provide mechanization services. This initiative will enable expedient provision of services and consequently benefit both the local businesses and farmers who were unable to receive the state mechanization services.
AGRONOMIC SEED AND HORTICULTURAL SEEDLING PRODUCTION TO SUPPORT RASET
The Department announced the development of a plan to produce its own seeds and seedling capability in order to reduce reliance and rising costs. This bold step will over time, see the establishment of five mega-nurseries producing seedlings and fruit trees. Research Stations which were identified for the establishment of these nurseries are geographically spread across the province, under different bio-resource groups and can specialize in producing different seeds and seedlings. This programme aims to ensure that historically disadvantaged individuals participate in the seed and seedling value chain. This plan will ensure that farmers currently supplying the RASET market have sufficient seedlings and fruit trees to plant in order to fulfil orders. The plan is premised on two pillars: Horticulture (vegetable seedlings, fruit trees and sweet potato vines) and Agronomic crops (maize, dry beans, potatoes and ground nuts seed). While agronomic seeds and seedlings are produced, skills and knowledge will be transferred to the young agriculturalists by utilizing the Research Stations as knowledge hubs to provide agricultural technical support. Implementation will commence in 2020/2021 and the programme will see the employment of 290 agricultural graduates over the next 2 years.
To ensure the expansion of the Agricultural Food and Logistics HUB intertwined with the AGRIPARK Model, Government Warehouses, Operational Vula through RASET and District Development Model (DDM). An initiative that will be implemented in four districts of the province. This initiative follows a commodity competitive and comparative advantage clustering approach. Giant strides towards the implementation of this concept have been undertaken and the first phase of developing a feasibility study, business case, viable business plan for the four hubs, coupled with the implementation framework, have been concluded. The implementation of the first phase of this project is expected to create 540 jobs during phase one of project implementation.
SUPPORT TO WOMEN, YOUTH AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
In recognition of a protracted period of disenfranchisement of vulnerable groups (women, youth and people with disabilities) within the agricultural sector, the Department has resolved to measure progress made in the promotion and advancement of these groups in agricultural development programmes.
FEMALE ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS (“FEA”) PROGRAMME
The Department runs the Female Entrepreneur Awards programme to acknowledge, encourage and increase the participation of women and women with disabilities in the agricultural sector, thus empowering women to own and manage agricultural land for their enterprises and to be involved in the country’s economic transformation. The aim is to mainstream women, young women and women with disabilities in the sector through food security, job creation, economic growth and poverty alleviation. The programme has a long-term ambition of leveraging women entrepreneurs from being subsistence and small-holder producers to commercial entrepreneurs who also venture into export markets.
YOUTH EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVES
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) will launch an ambitious initiative that will unlock 10 000 direct and indirect jobs for youth, out of school, unemployed graduates and those young people who have a passion for agriculture. Our youth empowerment initiatives aim to assist in achieving the production required to fill the RASET order. Government will implement six-empowerment programmes set aside for vulnerable groups through DARD. The Department plans to massively upscale its EPWP Programme to include the following five pillars, namely, EPWP Youth Brigades; Youth Owned Enterprises / Incubators; ICT Training and Technology Training (4IR) and Youth Farm Experiential Learning.
The Department will implement 114 agricultural infrastructure related projects in the province during this financial year, which will help provide a necessary base for the development of enterprises, mainly by small-holder farmers. The agriculture infrastructure rollout programme, which will be inclusive of maintenance, will see an investment of over R28 million to be used for establishment and rehabilitation of agricultural infrastructure, which includes irrigation schemes, fencing, pack houses and abattoirs, to mention a few.
Through its LandCare programme, the Department continues to optimize productivity and the sustainability of agricultural natural resources by promoting community participation in sustainable land use and its management. Community based projects amounting to R42 million were implemented in the 2019/2021 financial year and over 1000 EPWP jobs opportunities were created. In the current financial year, the Department will implement community-based projects under LandCare to rehabilitate agricultural land and create over 1100 EPWP job opportunities. Over and above community-based projects, the programme will also fund in-school initiatives under the JuniorCare Programme. The programme will also be able to create awareness for the various environmental days like World Wetland Day, Water Week, World Desertification Day and Arbor Day. The LandCare programme also provides accredited training to its beneficiaries. Over 500 participants will receive training in chainsaw operation, health and safety, first aid and mixed farming. An amount of R53 million has been set aside to ensure the implementation of the LandCare programme interventions for this financial year.
RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY
The Department has embarked on an exciting journey to convert its research stations into Centres of Excellence and Innovation in order to respond to research needs and technology development within the Province. To help alleviate the harsh effects of the drought in the province, the Department is promoting the use of drought tolerant seeds suitable for the different climates, developed by our researchers. The Department is invested on conducting hemp product research to identify varieties and their uses in order to provide opportunities for small-scale farmers. The research findings will be used during the formulation of policy on the use of cannabis products for medicinal purposes.
This financial year we will implement a programme called Mazibuye eMasisweni, which applies modern scientific tools to enhance indigenous knowledge and preserve our heritage.
The Department is in the drive to revive indigenous knowledge through the propagation of plants that grow in our natural environments and have been serving human kind as food and medicine in almost all cultures for generations. A nursery for medicinal herbs and indigenous crops will be developed in any of research stations.
AGRICULTURAL COLLEGES - CEDARA and OSCA
The role of colleges extends beyond fulltime students. They also provide both accredited and non-accredited courses and agricultural training to farmers and participants of projects funded and supported by the Department.
LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION PROGRAMME
The Department will utilize a budget of R100 million to support, in particular, small-holder farmers to establish 48 beef, piggery and poultry enterprises in the current financial year. In the medium term, the Department will continue to invest in these enterprises to create a critical mass for both domestic and export markets’ purpose.
The Department is developing a goat production value chain strategy to support primary production and promote the culture of business enterprise management amongst black rural livestock producers. This will include auctions, creating awareness and promoting the value of goat meat amongst the rural poor as a commercial farming venture of choice.
The Veterinary Services Directorate seeks to promote animal health to safeguard food security, human health and animal welfare by controlling animal diseases of economic and zoonotic importance in the province and country at large. It also supports community developments and projects.
In order to build capacity in this unit, the Department intends to procure 3 fully-fledged mobile theatres that will contribute to elimination of diseases such rabies and other opportunistic animal diseases.
ESTABLISHMENT AND REHABILITATION OF DIP TANKS
Currently in the province, we have 2053 operational dip tanks with an estimated total of 2.1 million cattle in communal areas. We are in a process of building 12 new dip tanks and rehabilitating 42 dip tanks in different districts in order to render an efficient service to our farmers and to address the growing population challenges. We will be procuring treated poles in different sizes for dip tank rehabilitation worth of R5,5 million with each district receiving poles worth R500 000. This project will assist farmers in repairing or replacing broken poles at their respective enterprises. We will collaborate with municipalities to implement this programme.
LIVESTOCK INFRASTRUCTURE AND LIVESTOCK ASSOCIATIONS
The primary reason for formation of livestock associations was to start the process of building new dip tanks and rehabilitation of the old dip-tanks in the province, as well as to unite the livestock owners in an umbrella body. Part of livestock formation was to create a conducive environment in order for the Department to work closely with livestock farmers and to be able to control animal diseases in rural communities through dip tank structures and also to support them through our Departmental programmes.
PRIMARY ANIMAL HEALTH CARE AND CCS PROGRAM
The CCS programme aims to provide accessible and affordable veterinary services in the whole country, especially the rural communities. The programme will involve the deployment of newly qualified veterinarians across the entire country and will focus on disease prevention, rendering ambulatory services and providing education, especially, regarding responsible pet ownership, resource utilization and optimizing livestock production. This programme will offer the newly qualified veterinarian the opportunity to render their much-needed service to rural areas and gain valuable experience and knowledge.
WOOL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
As part of the Provincial Livestock Strategy, the Department had identified wool improvement as an important area of focus in agricultural related products, especially, given its export market opportunities.
The Department will invest R39.5 million over a period of 3 years for construction of shearing sheds, renovation of existing sheds, purchasing of shearing equipment, equipping all shearing sheds with dip-tanks and establishment of cultivated pasture. The implementation of this programme will have a positive overall impact in the profitability and sustainability of wool farming by providing world-class production technology and skills to black African wool farmers in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Department supports some projects funded by our entity, Agribusiness Development Agency (ADA). These include the egg production facility.
The project is being implemented in phases starting with the 10 000 layers and will expand to 20 000 layers. This project, once completed and operational, will create 10 permanent and 20 seasonal employment opportunities, targeting and empowering women as agricultural entrepreneurs.
Mjindi Farming (Pty) Ltd
Mjindi Farming was able to execute maintenance of fencing by employing 15 contract workers for the installation of 27,5 km fence line and repairing of existing fences along the canal. The entity also cleared 211 km of vegetation along the canals, creating jobs for women and youth in the process as well as the maintenance of 130 km of infield gravel road within Makhathini Irrigation Scheme.
RED MEAT VALUE CHAIN PROGRAMME
This programme seeks to assist projects that encompass the full value chain from veld grazing, feed-lots to meat processing. The red meat value-chain programme will create more than 120 permanent jobs both in primary agriculture and in agro-processing.
MARULA FACTORY AND BHAMBANANA ABATTOIR
The Department will initiate the operationalisation of the Marula Factory and the Bhambanana Abattoir in the uMkhanyakude District. The Marula factory will take advantage of the fruit from 2 million Amarula trees in our province to produce world-class jams and Amarula oils that are in huge demand by local tourists and the international cosmetic industry. The operational plan has identified the potential to employ almost 1,000 seasonal workers. The Bhambanana Abattoir will allow livestock associations in uMkhanyakude to gain economic benefit from the 140,000 cattle in their District.