DAFF beneficiary stats ‘thumbsucked’ – Afasa

About 119 000 farmers have benefited from its farmer support programmes, according to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

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This, claims the department, will help it to fight high food prices and secure food security for vulnerable communities. According to the department, an estimated 72 000 smallholder farmers are reported to have received Comprehensive Agricultural Support (CASP) grants, while more than 47 000 subsistence farmers received production support through the Ilima/Letsema campaign and other grants. However, Afasa says this isn’t a true reflection of what is happening on the ground.

No Proof
Tshianeo Mathidi, Limpopo chairperson of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (Afasa), said government is good at dishing out statistics, but can’t back it up with facts. There’s no proof that farmers benefited from the grants or other ‘aid’, he said. According to Mathidi, DAFF gives farmers two bags of fertiliser and then says ‘‘we’ve helped farmers”.

Its stats are also suspicious because “you’d find here that farmers have been counted twice or thrice,” said Mathidi. Using the mechanisation programme as an example, he said one district was given five tractors and 100 farmers were recorded as beneficiaries. Molefe Mahape, North West Afasa secretary, said he doesn’t know how DAFF arrived at the 72 000 figure, but he doesn’t believe that many farmers have benefited.

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A number of Afasa members in the province have been on the recapitalisation and development programme list since last year, but have not received anything from the department, he said, adding that “these numbers are thumbsucked.” David Mabudi of Northern Cape Afasa said the department created ‘ghost farmers’ who it claimed benefited from its programmes. Moreover, farmers in the Northern Cape were experiencing major problems with DAFF. “Those people (DAFF)are not talking to us about anything,’’ said Mabudi.

According to the department’s annual report, R1,6 billion was allocated to provincial departments for the CASP and other conditional grants. However, more than R200 million was unspent by the provinces, with the Northern Cape spending only half of its budget. Of the R270 million allocated to the province, only R141 million was spent.

This was followed by Limpopo failing to spend R29,8 milllion, North West R24,1 million, the Eastern Cape R16,7 million and Gauteng R15,2 million. The other provinces spent their entire budgets. CASP aims to provide post-settlement support to land reform beneficiaries and other farmers who acquired land privately.

DAFF could not be reached for comment.