Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza has announced that, from December 10 to 22, all agricultural subsistence producers can apply for support from the Presidential Employment Stimulus initiative.
The programme is aimed at sustaining and increasing employment in the agricultural sector.
The department expects to support about 75 000 subsistence producers with farming input vouchers to retain self-employment in the sector, as well as to support food value chains.
Didiza says subsistence farmers remain hardest hit by the impacts of Covid-19 and that small patches of land remain the cornerstones of their livelihood. It is these producers who are often considered to be nonbankable by institutions, but they are critical to ensuring food security in communities, she adds.
During the implementation of the initiative, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development will employ youth from the National Rural Youth Service Corps programme, as well as unemployed agricultural graduates, to work as verification officers and fill the 6 000 temporary positions required for the initiative.
Application forms can be accessed by dialling *134*4536# from a cellphone, and are available in all 11 official languages. The “first come first served” concept will apply to the initiative.
Didiza says the applicants should be 18 years or older, have a South Africa identification document, not be employed by government, be currently actively involved in agricultural production and not have received prior support from the department in the current financial year.
The support will target vulnerable individuals and groups, aiming to support 50% women, 40% youth and 6% persons with disabilities.
Didiza highlights that child-headed households, farm-dwellers, farm workers and military veterans will also be prioritised for support through this initiative.
She further points out that the type and quantities of support provided will be limited to the commodity applied for and the size of the current operation, which will be physically verified on site.
The department will evaluate up to 150 000 of these unstructured supplementary service data applications and has criteria relevant to the farming operation, including that fruit and vegetable farmers not operate on land larger than 1 ha in size, that poultry farmers have less than 100 birds and those with livestock not have more than 20 small animals and five large animals.
The amount of support will range between R1 000 and R9 000, up to a total allocated amount of R1-billion for the initiative.
Applicants will be notified whether their application had been successful or not before the end of January.