Agrarian revolution in central KZN

The Umzinyathi District of central KwaZulu-Natal, incorporating the four local municipalities of Dundee, Nquthu, Msinga and uMvoti, are reaping the benefits of the Agrarian Revolution underpinned by the province’s Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (DAEA) and by the KZN Department of Land Affairs, said agriculture MEC Mtholephi Mthimkhulu.
Issue Date 8 June 2007

Speaking at the legislature sitting in Umzinyathi recently, the MEC said that a vigorous programme of land redistribution and land reform pursued in the district since 1994 had seen 24 000ha of land transferred to at least 2 000 beneficiaries, most of whom were originally farm dwellers in the Dundee and uMvoti areas.

The majority of people in Nquthu and Msinga live on communal land. “To allow these land beneficiaries to become successful farmers as anticipated by the Agrarian Revolution, my department has given them intensive support in the form of agricultural extension, infrastructure development, and maize and beans massification projects,” Mthimkhulu said. “The extension officers also support the district municipality in developing and assessing the integrated development plans for the district. Assistance is also rendered on projects that are supported financially by Umzinyathi.”

In a review of projects carried out in Umzinyathi over the 2005/06 and 2006/07 financial years respectively, the MEC pointed out that planned agricultural ­extension projects and client support services had far exceeded original ­targets.
The ­majority of projects to develop ­emerging farmers in terms of aspects including globally competitive agricultural production, and developing new agricultural markets, had been completed or nearly completed. KZN DAEA spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi added that the new farmers in Umzinyathi had also been empowered through the Siyavuna Mechanisation Project where they had received tractors and power hoes to improve their agricultural production capabilities. “We handed over three 4×4 tractors to the value of R1,2 million to district recipients in 2006, and are in the process of also supplying them with 51 power hoes to the value of R1,3 million this year,” Baloyi explained.

Through the Planting Without ­Ploughing programme, no-till farming practices are being taught to Umzinyathi’s emerging black farmers. Hundreds of hectares of no-till maize and sugar beans have been established in the district as part of various massification projects, as have smaller Siyavuna projects such as the growing of mushrooms and poultry. Baloyi concluded, “We have experienced problems such as crop pests and diseases, theft of infrastructure and poor project management by some communities, but we are in the process of sorting these problems out. Overall we are quite satisfied with the progress that has been made.“ – Lloyd Phillips