KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has launched a multi-planting season as he intensifies the use of farms acquired through land reform programme.
Zikalala said the province has set aside a sum of R90-million for planting throughout the summer season.
The planting season was unveiled this week where the provincial government led by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development planted a co-operative 400-hectare farm in Umzimkhulu, in the southern part of the province.
The farm which is run by women produces dry crops, including maize and beans was acquired through the land reform programme.
While launching the programme, Zikalala said the multi-planting would focus on underutilised land in the province.
This was in response to the decline in farm production as a result of land expropriation.
Shortage of skills and lack of resources by those who had benefited from the programme was said to be a reason most farms acquired through land programmes were lying fallow.
Zikalala said his cabinet would launch the programme throughout the province for the next coming months.
He said the planting programme would be monitored and evaluated by the South African Farmers Development Agency (SAFDA)
In addition, R30-million would be availed for producing seeds and agriculture equipment, he said.
“Our commitment is to plant one million hectares of land by 2024 and this is our first step. We hoped that by harvest season next year we would have planted over 21 000 hectares of land as the provincial government.
“The planting initiative will provide much-needed assistance and support such as seeds, fertilizers and chemicals to resource-poor farmers.
It is time to roll up our sleeves, to unite with the land, and achieve the agricultural revolution that our province has been yearning for over two decades,” said Zikalala.
He urged citizens to rally behind the programme so the province could achieve its target and have an abundant fresh and nutritious harvest by next autumn.
Zikalala said agriculture was a crucial driver in the food and nutrition security and economic recovery action plan to avert the province from falling too low below the breadline following the spells of droughts experienced in the past five years and recently, due to Covid-19 lockdown.
“This year, 21 277 households will receive food security-related support. By 2024, we aim to have 50 percent of provincial government spent on entrepreneurship for women-owned business.
“Our aim is to ensure that at least 40 percent of land to be acquired under the Rural Land Reform Programme will target 40 percent youth by 2024,” Zikalala added.
Bongi Sithole-Moloi, MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, said the department through its mechanisation programme would support farmers to achieve the target set by the government.
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