If small-scale farmers are to benefit, the South African government needs to rethink its funding policy for agriculture and agro-processing.
This is one of the recommendations from two academics at the University of Pretoria who conducted a study of the effectiveness of state funding programmes, especially for small-scale black farmers.
In an article published in the academic journal The Conversation, the researchers – Adrino Mazenda and Tyanai Masiya – implied that extensive funding to improve the skills and productivity of small-scale farmers had not achieved its objectives.
“The contribution of the small scale agricultural sector to the South African food value addition agenda is restricted on many frontiers which require government intervention,” they said.
“Firstly, the South African government needs to rethink its funding policy for agriculture and agro-processing.
“It should prioritise programmes that enhance farmers’ access to information about technology and markets. Such programmes should also aim to improve farmers’ knowledge and skills around agro-processing – and help them to understand and comply with food quality standards in line with customer preferences.
“Finally, food trade policy should be aligned with partner countries in various blocs to protect the food industry from dumping. This has ripple effects on markets and employment.”
They noted that in 2021, about R1.2 billion was allocated to the agriculture and food sector budget to support smallholder farmers through various initiatives related to value addition.
The Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries budgeted about R5.6 billion between 2018 and 2021 to support 145,000 black commercial, subsistence and smallholder producers. The support included production inputs and farm infrastructure.