Role players hope to see government support agri sector in Budget Speech

Role players expect Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana to announce support for the agriculture sector as load-shedding and rising input costs see farmers battling to produce affordable food. Godongwana will deliver the annual Budget Speech on 22 February.

Role players hope to see government support agri sector in Budget Speech
South Africa’s agriculture sector faces a bleak outlook as the impact of load-shedding raises the cost of production and threatens the livelihoods of many farmers.
Photo: FW Archive
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Agri SA said it was crucial that the Minister announced measures to protect the country’s food security. With load-shedding the most urgent threat to the nation’s farmers, government needed to be resolute in allocating resources to buttress farmers from its worst effects and ensure the sustainable production of food.

Kulani Siweya, chief economist at Agri SA, said in a statement that the country’s producers needed concrete and practical budgetary and fiscal measures to assist them in their plight.

This included the provision for higher rebates on diesel and petrol used for electricity generation and the implementation of incentives to promote grid-connected generation capacity and reconnection of off-grid systems. He also called for lowering or removal of “cumbersome” taxes, such as excise duties on alcohol.

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“Moreover, with President [Cyril Ramaphosa] having announced a tax incentive for businesses to install rooftop solar [panels], Godongwana needs to provide detail on this intervention and any special provisions for the agriculture sector. The Budget Speech must also provide for the allocation of resources to build new infrastructure and repair existing infrastructure to enable the sector and value chain partners to reliably supply food across the country,” Siweya added.

Meanwhile, Prof Piet Croucamp of North-West University’s Business School said that as South Africa’s agriculture sector was mostly export-driven, it was important that government removed barriers in this regard.

“It is of the utmost importance for the Minister to support the industry through, among others, lessening taxes on exports, marketing and promoting local agricultural products on global markets and budgeting amply for the rehabilitation and extension of infrastructure. That is what the industry would want him to announce on Wednesday. More support from the state is crucial for long-term sustainability and profitability in agriculture,” he told Farmer’s Weekly.

“Although it does not always look like it, government is well aware of the value the sector adds to the country and its people. My hope is that this awareness be reflected in increased support for agriculture in the 2023 Budget Speech,” he added.

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Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.