“This is a very important tool which will not only be giving government information of who is farming where but will also be used to inform policy design. It will enable government to assess the performance of farmers in different regions and commodities.”
This was said by the Minister of Agriculture, Land reform and Rural Development, Ms Thoko Didiza, while launching the much awaited country’s Farmer Register on Monday February 22, at the Radisson Hotel and Convention Centre in Bredell, Kempton Park.
The department said it decided to undertake this important task in order to understand its client base both in terms of size and scale of operation.
In 2019/20 Statistics South Africa released the Agricultural Census and it covered mainly the Commercial sector.
“While this was encouraging we were still short of data about Small holder producers in our country. The aim of the survey was to get data that will tell us where the smallholders are in the outreach, their demographics, production as well as their contribution to employment,” said Minister Didiza
In order to ensure that this work meets the statistical requirement, the department had to work with Statistic South Africa on the development of the model.
The department had also to work with the Provincial Departments of Agriculture because this is where on a daily basis farmers receive their services.
Minister Didiza said that in March DALRRD will be concluding the Agriculture Aerobusiness Master-plan which tries to look at different commodities and what are the potential for growth in those different commodities.
“But also what is the inclusivity we seek to achieve. Black farmers, for example, make up to 11 per cent of livestock farmers in South Africa’s livestock industry and this is very minimal but at least it helps us to appreciate where do we find them getting a market share in the agricultural space. This tool will be able to help us monitor the growth and decline of these farmers and also, what it is that we need to address, both from policy and from regulation and even support as government in order to grow this industry,” said the minister.
The minister this tool is important as it’s not only about the data of who is farming, whether they are women or men, disabled or not and age category.
“What is vital for us is the operations, their scale, their size and where do we find them, also in terms of where do we direct government support.
“One might ask themselves on why are subsistence farmers at the moment being a focus of government…it is largely because of the role they play in terms of food security …they may not be getting large volumes but are vital in making sure households are not food insecure – so it is an important sector that we’re not taking lightly as government,” said the minister.
The minister continued to say the data will be useful on how government support these farmers not only on production input but also on infrastructure spent.
“The July unrests also raised the issue of where are our agrologistics are concentrated in terms of agricultural exports…it was an opportunity where we should look at diversifying…these are some of the thing we need to look at.”
“We welcome this register as the first milestone but also as a tool that is going to enable us as we continue to grow the sector to have a better understanding rather than having hit a miss in terms of how we support the industry.”
The minister thanked the farmers, farmer organisations such as AFASA, FUSA, NAFU, AGRI SA and various commodity associations that were the drivers on the farmer side to enable government to undertake this work.
In 2020 we had 95 501 registered farmers in our register. This number is further delineated in terms of Provinces.
“One interesting feature is that in some Provinces there are more female producers and interms of the age category we have found that during the year 2020, Kwa Zulu Natal had more young farmers followed by Eastern Cape,” said Minister Didiza
The register has confirmed that more small holder and subsistence are involved in Livestock production followed by crops and mixed farming.
The farmer register covers attainable Smallholder farmers across provinces and it is important to note that not all farmers were reached in this phase of the register due COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Farmer registration is ongoing as the department is still attracting more farmers on its data base in all the provinces.
The data collected to some extent, include households, subsistence, medium scale and commercial farmers based on the following farming activities: Cultivation of crops and horticulture, Livestock production and a combination of the above (mixed farming).