Agri­cul­tural fund launched

Fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance now be­ing made read­ily avail­able for pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged farm­ers in the prov­ince

The New Age (Free State) - - NORTH WEST NEWS - CHARLOTE HLANGWANE char­loteh@the­

THE North West Agri­cul­tural Fund pro­ject will make a huge dif­fer­ence to farm­ers in the prov­ince, farm­ers or­gan­i­sa­tions, says Prof Marekwa Le­gotlo.

Le­gotlo said the provin­cial gov­ern­ment had al­ways been sup­port­ive of the farm­ing com­mu­nity.

“I want to thank the premier for his vi­sion which I be­lieve will go a long way in as­sist­ing our farm­ing com­mu­nity.

“We want to pledge our sup­port to this vi­sion and we trust it will as­sist our pro­gramme of com­mer­cial­is­ing farms,” he said.

The provin­cial depart­ment of ru­ral, en­vi­ron­ment and agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment on Tues­day launched a sta­te­owned fund unit aimed at as­sist­ing fi­nan­cially strug­gling farm­ers of the prov­ince.

The pro­ject is man­dated to pro­vide fund­ing to farm­ers in re­spect of agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment with a par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged in­di­vid­u­als.

Depart­ment spokesper­son Emelda Setl­hako said the core busi­ness of Agri­fund was to pro­vide fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to the farm­ing com­mu­nity.

Setl­hako said that through this pro­ject the depart­ment would look at farm­ers who did not qual­ify for grants or could not ac­cess fund­ing from the com­mer­cial banks with a par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged in­di­vid­u­als, as­pir­ing farm­ers and those in­volved in small-scale agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Part of its man­date is to con­trib­ute to ru­ral devel­op­ment and sta­bil­ity, so­cial up­lift­ment and job cre­ation.”

Premier Supra Mahumapelo said he was happy that the vi­sion he had for the farm­ers’ com­mu­nity had now be­come a reality.

“With the North West Agri­cul­tural Fund at the cen­tre of the prov­ince’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor trans­for­ma­tion, I am con­fi­dent it will bring real and last­ing progress to the lives of or­di­nary cit­i­zens and boost the econ­omy of the prov­ince, par­tic­u­larly of vil­lages, town­ships and dor­pies. It will serve as one of the most ef­fi­cient ve­hi­cles for the eco­nomic devel­op­ment of the prov­ince,” Mahumapelo said.

The North West Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion said the pro­ject will plan, ex­e­cute, fi­nance and mon­i­tor the im­ple­men­ta­tion of agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment projects and pro­grammes in the prov­ince.

To meet the needs and ex­pec­ta­tions of as­pir­ing farm­ers in Bokone Bophir­ima, the fund will be equipped with the lat­est tech­nol­ogy and the nec­es­sary re­sources. The fund will utilise a sound busi­ness model which shall place em­pha­sis on bring­ing new play­ers into the main­stream of the agri­cul­tural sec­tor as a pri­or­ity.

North West Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion CEO Tshepo Phetla said: “The cor­po­ra­tion is hon­oured to be an im­ple­ment­ing part­ner to the North West Agri­cul­tural Fund.

“By sup­port­ing agri­cul­tural projects and over­see­ing the fund­ing thereof, we are con­tribut­ing to eco­nomic devel­op­ment, sec­tor growth, food se­cu­rity and trade. In do­ing so, col­lec­tively, we are ad­dress­ing the triple chal­lenge of poverty, in­equal­ity and un­em­ploy­ment.”

MEC Man­ketsi Tl­hape said: “I’m proud to an­nounce that the tech­ni­cal team man­aged to re­cruit and ap­point com­pe­tent of­fi­cials with enor­mous bank­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for them to hit the ground run­ning, hence the fund is op­er­a­tional as we launch.

“Man­agers and busi­ness devel­op­ment of­fi­cers have in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence as they worked for al­most all the com­mer­cial banks in South Africa,” she said.

SUP­PORT­ING FARM­ERS: Premier Supra Mahumapelo, right and ru­ral, en­vi­ron­ment and agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment Man­ketsi Tl­hape at the of­fi­cial open­ing of the North West Agri­fund.

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