The South African government is hoping to increase the number of smallholding farmers and black commercial farmers in the next five years to reduce the growing food security challenges currently facing the country. “If we can reach out to 300 000 smallholding farmers in the next five years and at least 30 000 black commercial farmers over the next five years, then we would have as a country contributed towards food security and hunger,” Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister, Tina-Joemat Petersson said.
Joemat-Petersson said agriculture had been placed as a high priority of government. “It is a good achievement for agriculture in the history of the country that it has been placed at the second level of the economy as the primary job creator. We’ve committed to create 300 000 jobs through small holding farms,” she said. The minister used the opportunity to emphasise the importance of subsistence farming in the country. “People should go back to their backyards, school and hospital backyards. Each family must have a vegetable garden and each family must grow food. South Africans don’t grow food and they eat food which they did not produce,” she said. Joemat-Petersson announced that her department would be launching a call centre soon where people with an interest in becoming a commercial farmer will be provided with relevant information, including access to finance.