Bailout for struggling farmers
Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal government is to spend R100m to bail out struggling black farmers who received farms through the land reform programme in the province.
The department has formed the Agri Business Development Agency, which aims to help struggling farmers move out of their financial doldrums.
It was unveiled in Vryheid on Thursday.
Economic development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu said the agency was formed after it was discovered that most of the farms which were transferred to communities were "battling to keep afloat".
He said the agency, which comprised farming experts, was a partnership between the departments of economic development and agriculture, and environmental affairs and rural development.
"Since 1994 vast expanses of land worth more than R3bn has been handed over to African communities in the province as part of the land redistribution and restitution programme," he said.
The provincial department of economic development would also inject R27m to rescue 87 farms.
"The agency will assist the struggling farms to access finance," said Mabuyakhulu.
It would also help them to access markets, he said.
"Our intention is to ensure that these struggling farms are able to hold their own. But this support will not be given in perpetuity," he said.
Already there were agreements with the Sugar Cane Millers, the Citrus Growers Association of South Africa, Forestry South Africa, the National Youth Empowerment Agency, the DTI Business Incubator
Programme, Ithala Bank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa.