DA calls on Minister Didiza to explain how R500 million blended finance will avoid food crisis

Issued by Noko Masipa MP – DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
05 May 2023 in News

During oral questions to the Minister of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), Minister Thoko Didiza announced that she will soon make available R500 million for blended finance to support commercial farmers who are bungling under the load-shedding challenges.

This comes after the DA asked her to protect South Africans from food insecurity caused by the ANC’s load-shedding. The DA previously called for Minister Didiza and the Eskom management to appear before the committee to present a plan mitigating the risks of load-shedding.

Reports from black emerging farmers are that current-blended finance is not yielding positive results because of the massive red tape farmers face before being approved. We have also previously requested that the Land Bank appear before the portfolio committee to give an update on progress made with blended finance and other financing programmes in existence.

Load-shedding has cost the Agricultural sector over R23 billion due to crop failure because farmers are unable to irrigate. Furthermore, Citrus export protocols to European Union (EU) countries are threatened by the current new regulations that require imports of citrus fruit in the EU to undergo specified mandatory cold treatment processes and pre-cooling steps for specific periods. If load-shedding is not mitigated, this regulation has the potential to place more South Africans in the unemployment category and increase food challenges for many South Africans.

Many vulnerable South Africans are already succumbing to the pressure of job losses and food insecurity. They can no longer afford basic food. South Africa is seeing an increasing number of people who are going to bed hungry every day.

Food inflation has increased by 14% in the last 12 months to March 2023. This is the highest increase in food prices since 2009.

We, therefore, call Minister Thoko Didiza to announce the detailed plan soon and avoid a food crisis disaster. Further, the Democratic Alliance proposes that the plan must include commercial banks to avoid delays in disbursements.