By Bosman Grobler MPL, Spokesperson on Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs:
The DA in Mpumalanga welcomes the launch of the Young Farmers Incubator Programme under the department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs (DARDLEA), but will oversee this project to ensure it is not abused for political purposes.
The programme will benefit from a budget of R80 million, and will consist of 20 youth-owned SMMEs and 20 youth-owned Co-operatives to focus on crop, livestock and poultry production.
The beneficiaries have already been identified, and have been allocated full time extension officers and mentors. Yet the criteria for selection, and the connectedness of the beneficiaries has not been made public. This begs questions about the impartiality of the process and the transparency of selection.
The DA urges the MEC to ensure that this programme is handled differently from Masibuyele Emasimini. All outcomes of the Masibuyele Emasimini programme shows that these beneficiaries were set up for failure and were not supported, and we hope that the youths of the MYFI will not experience the same challenges.
With the latest GDP figures showing the Agricultural Sector contracting by more than 17% on a quarterly basis, and this year’s maize production expected to shrink to 9.8-million tonnes, (a 31% drop), it is very important that this programme receives competent support to achieve success.
The MEC has an opportunity to make a change in the lives of not only the youths involved, but the province as a whole, if beneficiaries are empowered out of need, and are properly supported.
The DA wants this programme to succeed, we would want beneficiaries to grow their businesses and become commercial farmers, and ultimately contribute goods to be sold at the Mpumalanga International Fresh Produce Market and the rest of the country.
This is one way of creating a better tomorrow for our youth and growing the economy, if managed correctly.