Agriculture stakeholders welcome a “balanced” agricultural budget

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According to Christo van der Rheede, executive director of Agri SA, the 2022/23 budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (Department of Agriculture) is balanced and focuses on the importance of commercial agriculture.

Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza said in her recent budget speech to Parliament that bumper harvests in some subsectors in the 2020/21 season had boosted export earnings and improved farm incomes. .
Photo: FW Archives

According to Christo van der Rheede, executive director of Agri SA, the 2022/23 budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (Department of Agriculture) is balanced and focuses on the importance of commercial agriculture.

He said The Farmers’ Weekly that the specific focus on the export of agricultural products in the budget was very welcome. Minister Thoko Didiza delivered the speech to Parliament on Thursday, May 12.

The department’s total budget for the coming year has been increased by R400 million, from R16.9 billion in 2021/22 to R17.3 billion in 2022/23.

Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at Agbiz, said it was interesting to note that the department had transferred 400 million rand out of the 1 billion rand pledged to provide funding to the Agribusiness Fund under a memorandum of understanding with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

“Farm finance is key to driving inclusion and bringing a new generation of black farmers to commercial scale. However, these funds are rather limited if you want to make a big difference. [with regard to] inclusive growth.

Sihlobo said the budget speech gave the agriculture sector insight into the policy direction of the department and the areas that would likely receive a significant portion of the allocation.

“To this end, the speech focused on climate resilience, agricultural finance, biosecurity, locust outbreaks, the hemp industry and market access.”

Didiza praised the dynamism of the sector in recent years: “Employment figures in the sector were 868,000 in the fourth quarter of 2021, reflecting the stability of recent years.

“Most of the agricultural sub-sectors in South Africa are emerging from one of the best years for the agricultural sector: the 2020/21 season. Cereals, oilseeds and some fruits such as citrus recorded bumper harvests, which boosted export earnings and improved farm incomes. »

However, Didiza expressed concern that the economic growth that the agricultural sector has experienced in recent years and the relative stability of employment may be eroded due to factors affecting global agricultural trade, such as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Escalating food, feed and fertilizer prices are another worrying factor, she said.

According to Didiza, a sector task force, led by the National Agricultural Marketing Council, continuously monitored the environment and provided periodic reports on developments.

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