By Libuseng Nyaka
QWAQWA-Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality is the 3rd biggest income generating district in the country with R17 billion and the biggest agricultural employer in the province.
This was disclosed by Agriculture and Development MEC Kwekwe William Bulwane while tabling the budget for 2021/22 financial year at Zastron last Friday.
“With 27 022 employees, Thabo Mofutsanyana is followed by Lejweleputswa with 22 559, Fezile Dabi with 12 689, Xhariep with 8 110 and Mangaung Metro with 4 749.”
He described the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as a major role player in the economy of the province and essential in the achievement of government priorities to accelerate economic recovery and create sustainable jobs.
Bulwane said for 2020/21 financial year the department is allocated an adjusted budget of more than R143 million further adjusted to more than R141 million for Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme GASP funding.
“For the Ilima-Letsema Grant funding the Department received an adjusted budget of more than R51 million, further adjusted to more than R50 million. The adjusted budgets were informed by the need to provide sufficient resources toward the need to control of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to Bulwane this announcement was later on followed by the implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative (PESI).
“A total number of 5 485 applications were received and a total of 3 943 have qualified up to date for the support of up to a maximum of R9 000 per household depending on the need and size of production. Honourable Speaker, the Private Sector also joined hands with government to set up a COVID-19 Relief Fund called the Solidarity Fund towards the fight against the spread of the pandemic and food production support to the rural farming communities within various Traditional Councils throughout the Country.”
This means that in the Province the Programme is being implemented in Mangaung Metro, Thaba-Nchu Traditional Council and in Thabo Mofutsanyana‘s three Traditional Councils namely: Bakweneng, Batlokwa and Kgolokoeng respectively. A total of 840 beneficiaries qualified in the Free State to receive an agricultural production support of not more the R2 000.
The vouchers have been issued to these beneficiaries and are currently being redeemed from the seven appointed OVK linked outlets in Phuthaditjhaba, Harrismith, Fouriesburg, Hobhouse, Hinterland, and Tweespruit.
He said subsequent to the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Honourable Ms Thoko Didiza of a number of COVID-19 Relief Fund Programmes earmarked for different categories of farmers and subsistence producers, so far the department provided support to the subsistence producers under COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund and assisted as follows .
“Three hundred and eighty nine (389) subsistence farmers (Mangaung Metro: 171 farmers, Xhariep: seven farmers, Thabo Mofutsanyana: 120 farmers, Lejweleputswa: 56 farmers and Fezile Dabi: 35 farmers) to the value of R17, 251, 516.37. Economic Transformation and Job Creation Honorable Speaker, the Free State province has a favorable geographic location, as well as a great agricultural potential. The agricultural sector in the province is comprised of crop production, animal production, horticulture, dairy farming, aquaculture, fruit production and agro-processing.”