SOUTH AFRICA – South African small scale farmers with an annual turnover of between R20 000 (US$1,000) and R1 million (US$54,500)are set to receive government grants, with application open from April 8 to April 22, to help them through the coronavirus crisis.

The department has ring-fenced R1.2bn (US$65.4m) for assistance mainly to target financially distressed small-scale farmers.

Of the R1.2bn (US$65.4m), R400m (US$21.8m) has been allocated for farmers in the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy programme. These are the beneficiaries of the government land acquisition model under land redistribution.

The remainder will be channelled to all other farmers mainly in the poultry, livestock, and vegetable farming sectors.

Briefing the media on Monday, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, described the R1.2 billion (US$65.4m) in funding as an “intervention package amid Covid-19” and not comprehensive support.

In regards to that Mechanisation, infrastructure and overhead costs will not be supported.

It applies mainly to farmers needing aid with poultry farming, fruit, feed and medication for livestock, and seedlings and fertiliser for winter crops, among some other categories. Other commodity sectors will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Farmers who are preparing for the 2020 summer production season will not be supported as well while those who are currently receiving support through other programmes run by the government and its entities are also excluded.

Didiza highlighted that applications will be undertaken electronically at or at the relevant government offices.

“No late entries will be accepted. Application forms will be available on April 8 2020 on the departmental website and through national, provincial, district and local offices of both the national department of agriculture, land reform & rural development and provincial departments of agriculture.”

The funds will be distributed via vouchers, not cash. Successful applicants will be able to exchange these vouchers for goods at certain retailers and cooperatives.