Farmers suffer while Agriculture Dept underspends – DA Gauteng

Over R100m will be sent back to Provincial Treasury while farmers continue to struggle without resources

Gauteng farmers continue to suffer without much-needed resources while Agriculture Department underspends by over R100 million

22 November 2022

Gauteng small-scale farmers continue to suffer without much-needed resources and equipment for farming, yet the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development which is mandated to support them has underspent on its budget by over R100 million.

It is extremely concerning that the department underspends on its allocated budget while there is a huge challenge in terms of food security and the rising cost of food prices.

According to the annual report of the department for the 2021/2022 financial year, the bulk of the under expenditure was on Programme Two: Agriculture and Rural Development where the department failed to spend the budget because of the non-response to advertised tenders, late purchase orders and service providers failing to deliver on time.

This money could have been used to rehabilitate agricultural land and water sources from invasive plants. By so doing creating employment opportunities which will assist in growing our economy.

This money could also have gone a long way to assist farmers who were severely affected by the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The under-expenditure is because of poor planning by the department. This money will be sent back to Provincial Treasury while our farmers continue to struggle to plough the land.

In addition, more needs to be done to cut red tape for small businesses that want to provide goods and services to the department.

The DA demands that the MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mbali Hlophe, provide a detailed plan on how exactly they will prevent this huge underspending from reoccurring again and how farmers particularly, small-scale farmers will be assisted by the department. We will also be engaging directly with small-scale farmers across the province to ascertain their challenges and how they need to be assisted. We will report back to the department which is tasked with a mandate to assist farmers.

Our province needs every available cent to be spent effectively and efficiently at the coal face of production to ensure we maximise our resources and create an efficient economy where everybody benefits.

Issued by Bronwynn Engelbrecht, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, 22 November 2022