Minister Didiza to deliver 2022 budget speech, sign agriculture master plan, but AFASA rejects it

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Reform, Ms Thoko Didiza together with her deputies  Mcebisi Skwatsha and  Zoleka Capa will on May 12 2022 table their Policy and 2022/23 Budget speeches for the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Reform at 16:30.

The Department said the Budget Vote speeches will focus on critical matters related to the mandate of the Department. 

The Minister is also expected sign the Agricultural and Agro-processing Master Plan (AAMP) with all key stakeholders in the Agricultural Sector at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament.

However, one key stakeholder in the name of African Farmers Association of South Africa (AFASA), said it is not entirely convinced that the master plan is ready for signing. 

AFASA said it was shocked to hear of the news  on the signing of the AAMP by the Minister 

“In our view, we regard the engagements on the AAMP as still ongoing and there are certain  areas where we deem change is empirical in the draft document,” said the President of AFASA,  Mr A.J Mthembu.  

Mthembu said that upon receiving an invitation to the signing of the AAMP on the 12 May 2022, “we felt compelled  to firstly engage with the Minister”.

The highest body of AFASA subsequently met with Minister Didiza, on May 5 2022, to  engage in the areas the association was dissatisfied with, including the current AAMP  document in its form.  

AFASA said the engagement with the Minister follows a thorough two-day long extra-ordinary National  Executive Council (NEC) meeting, held between May 3 and 4, 2022, by AFASA NEC members along with its representatives in the AAMP Clusters.  

The Extra-ordinary NEC deliberated on the content of the AAMP and concluded that the AAMP  is not entirely convincing on how it will be implemented to fast-track transformation in the  Agricultural Sector.

The meeting resolved that the AAMP was not explicit in the following  points: 

  • Aggressive land reform and issuing of title deeds to beneficiaries of PLAS farms.
  • The transfer of irrigation water rights to black farmers, as well as the verification and  validation processes of water licences throughout the country, especially in catchment  areas. 
  • Clear targets on the participation of black farmers across various agricultural value  chain. 
  • The initial proposed Development Schemes through which to operationalise the AAMP  are missing and 
  • It is not clear how the ambitious targets are going to be financed as the proposed  blended finance has not worked since its introduction three (3) years ago.  

AFASA said that it is, however, ready to sign on the  May 12, 2022 provided that its latest contributions to  the AAMP are included.

AFASA further calls for the commission of enquiry on the demise of the Land Bank and that  the bank should be brought back to its feet (i.e., financed through the Treasury) to support the  development of black farmers. 

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