Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni
Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni PICTURE: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAYTIMES

Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni told Parliament during the tabling of his medium-term budget policy statement on Wednesday that government would transfer R4.4bn to the Land Bank over the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) period for agriculture support.

Deputy President David Mabuza was the first to point out that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stimulus package for the South African economy had agriculture among its key targets for investment and support.

Mboweni said the short-term outlook for the agriculture sector has improved since SA suffered its most severe drought in recent memory and Western Cape local authorities introduced strict water use and consumption controls to soften the blow of water constraints.

“The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform will transfer R4.4bn to the Land Bank over the MTEF period to support emerging farmers,” said Mboweni.

According to the medium-term budget policy statement, the private sector was developing financing models that use private and public sector funds to help potential beneficiaries of redistribution access capital to acquire land.

Mboweni said the domestic maize market remains well-supplied and SA is not expected to import maize during the year ahead.

“The combined export value of labour-intensive crops such as citrus, grapes and macadamia nuts increased by an annual average of 7.5% over the period 2015 to 2017,” Mboweni said.

Speaking to reporters during a briefing ahead of tabling the medium-term budget, Mboweni said in pursuing land expropriation without compensation, government should not allow successful farms to degenerate into forests.

National Treasury Director General Dondo Mogajane told reporters at the same briefing that funding was available to support emerging farmers and boost agriculture, but this would be done in partnership with established farmers in the sector.

SOURCE: FIN24 by Khulekani Magubane