South African government palliative funds for agriculture amid Covid-19: Challenges of implementation and suggestions for improvements
Keywords:Intervention fund, smallholder, exclusion, registration, recordkeeping
The novel Corona virus pandemic has been extremely overwhelming at all levels causing massive economic setbacks for many countries including South Africa. The country witnessed an unprecedented scaling-down of its national economic activities, which called for an emergency response from the government. Several Covid-19 relief schemes were instituted by the government to ensure that farms of all sizes would survive. A support fund of R1.2 billion was allocated to the agriculture and food sector through the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). The fund was primarily meant to assist financially distressed small-scale farmers to ensure continued production and food security for the country. This study collated the conditions for financial Covid-19 stimulus support required from smallholders and analysed several factors that prevented some members of this vulnerable group from benefitting from the relief funds. These factors include complexities associated with satisfactorily categorizing smallholder producers, productivity, marketing and policy challenges, glitches in formalising smallholder producer operations, the farm-business record keeping pitfall, and the exclusion of subsistent producers. The paper suggests some possible corrective measures that could allow for more inclusive support to these categories of farmers; some of which includes a simple but robust financial traceability system for the farmers, and a need to continue to push for the completion of national registration process of smallholder producers.
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