While the minister was lauded for a well-balanced budget that will build the National Development Plan (NDP), little was allocated to improve the commercial agriculture sector, it was noted.
Only smallholder and subsistence farmers were allocated money from the budget, which totaled R7 billion.
Billy Morokolo, marketing director at the department of agriculture, said it was worrying that SA only allocated 1% of its budget to agriculture, compared to 38% in the EU. “The money allocation to agriculture has diminished over the years while social spending has increased.”
Gordhan said that creating one million jobs in agriculture remained a priority. But Tobias Doyer, head of Santam Agriculture, said that the R7 billion allocation to smallholder and subsistence farmers made him wonder how a million jobs would be created if only this group of farmers received support.
“Current policy and budget allocation will not drive exports and help to create one million jobs. I get the feeling government is backtracking on agriculture.”
Morokolo also said the narrow focus on smallholder farmers was problematic. “Government’s message to commercial farmers is that they must form partnerships with smaller farmers to help them. But when it comes to money, then government is only helping small farmers.”