Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, today delivered a daintily budget speech. It had the right balance and mixture of an awakening state committed to correct its mishaps.
But what was in it for agriculture?
Mboweni used the Aloe Ferox plant as a euphemism to describe state budget allocation for 2020/2021. “To grow to its full potential, we need to do things that will help it in the medium to long-run – for example, augmenting the soil with the right amount of organic manure, providing the right amount of sun and the correct amount of water” he said.
R495.1 million has been allocated to the merged departments of Agriculture and Land Reform and Rural Development. There were serious doubts whether the funds would be more than enough to mount the challenge of creating jobs.
Just in the previous quarter, agriculture underperformed by -3.6%.
R500 million to improve compliance to biosecurity and international food standards was a welcomed relieve for organized agriculture. With the calling for animal traceability system, it is outwardly clear that the chunk of this budget could be earmarked for that cause.
Obviously missing in the budget speech was support for smallholder or communal farmers in the land process factor. Mboweni remained silent on how land reform budget will be spent.
Disappointedly so, the Minister made no reference to smallholder farmers expect to club their value under start-ups to ‘ignite the economy.’ The Department of Small Business has been allocated over R1 billion and it remains to be seen whether this underperforming department will support smallholder farmers.
In other light weight mentions, consumers will pay 14c extra for a 750ml bottle wine and 61c for 750ml bottle of sparkling wine.
Greenhouse gasses (GHG) are entering the atmosphere and troposphere at increased paced due to climate change. Agriculture is said to contribute to carbon emissions and with the introduction of carbon measures it is hoped it will stimulate the green economy.
“The carbon tax and other measures will help green the economy, and will bring in R1.75 billion over the next few months. This will be complemented by more focused spending on climate change mitigation’ Mboweni said. Mboweni also failed to announce measures of boosting the cannabis industry as was expected since he tacitly supported the idea on twitter.