An important lesson from the current Eskom crisis is the lack of investment overtime, and as with this critical institution of our economy, agriculture is equally facing the same challenge.
Infrastructure that supports agriculture such as roads, ports and rail needs serious upgrading. The Minister’s announcement for supporting private sector investments in agriculture by emerging farmers is most welcome. The allocation consists of R1.8 billion for the implementation of 262 priority land-reform projects over the next three years, and the R3.7 billion to assist emerging farmers seeking to acquire land to farm.
On this point, the details are necessary as implementation has been a challenge. This includes a clear programme for the implementation of the blended finance model by the Landbank. The outbreak of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) has elevated the importance of biosecurity and the allocation to beef up laboratories, and development of vaccines is a positive step.
In this regard it is positive that the Minister made a R456 million provision for the employment of newly graduated veterinarians within rural areas as part of their compulsory community service.
There is however no clear mention of the current drought affecting parts of the North West, Free State, and Northern Cape and this is a missed opportunity. Overall, positive budget from an agriculture perspective, but we need to closely watch implementation.
Comment by Paul Makube, Senior Agricultural economist at FNB Agri-Business