Johannesburg - Support measures for smallholder farmers and fisheries projects announced in the 2013 Budget on Wednesday were welcomed by Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
"Today's speech demonstrates that our government is serious about eradicating the challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty alleviation," she said in a statement.
"The national development plan has identified the potential of agriculture to create a million jobs."
The Budget provided for her department would focus on supporting smallholder farmers over the medium term.
This would be achieved through conditional grants such as the comprehensive agricultural support programme, the Landcare programme and the Ilima/Letsema programme.
It would spend more than R6bn in the medium term on conditional grants to provinces, to support 435 000 subsistence farmers and 54 500 smallholder producers.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan urged private enterprise to invest in agriculture, among other sectors, to help expand trade and job creation.
Joemat-Pettersson said this message was "very welcome" in the fisheries and agriculture sector.
The department already provided support for smallholder farmers in terms of infrastructure and production, but the budget would allow the department to extend its programmes.
Afasa praises support for smallholding farmers
The African Farmers' Association of SA (Afasa) applauded the allocation of R6.2bn to support smallholding farmers.
Afasa however pleaded with Gordhan to introduce tough laws and policies to speed up programmes intended to maximise production, create jobs, and grow the agricultural economy.
"We would like to call on the minister to take harsh action against accounting officers who underspend and delay service delivery," managing director Aggrey Mahanjana said in a statement.
The association congratulated the government for its continued commitment to the National Development Plan, infrastructure development, quality education, and job creation.
"The association further pleads with government to ensure that the budget allocated to the department of higher education takes a deliberate bias towards revitalisation of agricultural colleges and FET institutions."
Gordhan's silence on the allocation for rural development and land reform, and subsidies for smallholding farmers via the recapitalisation and development programme, was disappointing, the association said.
"Afasa holds a strong view that interventions aimed at productivity of the agricultural land will create and sustain jobs and ensure a food-secure South Africa."
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