Struggling small-scale farmers in the Southern Cape have been handed new equipment to boost their businesses. Some of them have faced severe hardships in recent years mostly from the drought in certain parts of the region. Several farmers from George and Mossel Bay were recently handed equipment from the Department of Agriculture.
Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha says the initiative is part of their infrastructure support programme.
One of several small-scale farmers in the region, Elizabeth Tsoloane has faced many difficulties to keep her farm running since 1999. When the communal tractor broke down several years ago, her business began to suffer. She recently revived her farm by planting manually. A new tractor from the department will now make all the difference.
“Having this tractor as people of Thembalethu will empower us. Our main challenge is security. Government provided fencing for our farms and also built us the dam you see around here.”
Another beneficiary is Peter Ngqavu who started farming in 2004 with Merino and Dorper sheep, but with the drought conditions in his area taking its toll, he wants to cross-breed the two to not only withstand drought but to also provide quality wool.
“I received feeding and they look healthy. Now I am able to differentiate males from the flock. My lambs could not grow properly because I couldn’t separate them from the rest so they can receive good nutrition.”
The department has pumped in R12 million as part of infrastructure support.
While the programme is yielding positive results, there’s still the issue of land for those who want to farm.
“You see the issue of land sometimes is a matter that the municipality has got a larger say than us. But the ones of infrastructure, we have our chief directors all over the place here willing to serve our people and they’ve been doing that. And we have been doing this all over the country and in this province in particular,” explain the Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
Some beneficiaries were also handed title deeds to their properties.
Recently, the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements released the Sandkraal Farm in George to a Communal Property Association for the aim of small-scale farming.
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The department says the property forms part of its commitment to the province’s land release programme which will empower small-scale farmers and add to the local economy.