Some beneficiaries of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative, Pesi, in Limpopo say the vouchers they get through the programme do not have much value.
The scheme by the Department of Agriculture gives vouchers to emerging farmers to buy material they need for farming from identified suppliers. The programme is aimed at increasing employment in the agricultural sector.
The department says it will investigate complaints from farmers.
Emerging farmers in Thabine outside Tzaneen in Limpopo are complaining about the initiative. One of the farmers says the suppliers that are listed as service providers for the Pesi do not have farming material required by farmers. He says some suppliers also buy from other suppliers and increase the price to make a profit.
The farmer says sometimes farmers spend the vouchers on items they do not need as suppliers do not always have the required stock.
“Specific suppliers that we need to claim our products from, all the products that we need are not in the list of the suppliers that we have been given. So it ends up not serving a purpose because at the end of the day we don’t get the products that we need but then we have the amount of money that we have. It means that you will just take anything that is in the shop and that is not going to serve you and the process of farming. We kindly ask the Department of Agriculture to engage with us.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa announces the money allocated to the Presidential Employment Stimulus :
The farmers are also complaining about the transportation of the material from service providers located far from their farms. Another farmer says after buying her material using the voucher, she struggled to transport the material back to her farm.
“What we want now is to hire a transport to go to Letsitele and change the voucher which I don’t have the money to pay for the transport .”
The Department of Agriculture says it is aware of complaints about the Pesi vouchers. Spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo says beneficiaries must report challenges and instances where they are overcharged to the department.
“Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development has been made aware of the allegations levelled against some of our suppliers that they overcharge farmers for collecting inputs on their behalf. We urge our farmers to go and report this to the nearest office of the Department of Agriculture and put the names and give the names of these suppliers. We urge our farmers to continue to be vigilant and report any misbehavior from suppliers. The department will launch an investigation.”
More than 75 000 subsistence farmers have received the vouchers throughout the country.