19 November 2012

South Africa: Govt Hands Over 72 Tractors to Assist Limpopo Farmers

Jane Furse — Subsistence farmers in Limpopo have been given the tools to have a bumper harvest after 72 tractors were made available for them to use.

Agriculture MEC Jacob Marule officially handed over the tractors in Jane Furse over the weekend as part of the nationwide mechanisation programme to help subsistence farmers who are too poor to afford tractors.

Jane Furse farmer Letlalo Masemola, 42, welcomed the initiative.

"We are really excited about the tractors because most of us do not have money to pay the village tractor operators. We will now turn our land into a paradise of vegetables and maize," said Masemola.

Marule said his department was determined to reach all 120 000ha of subsistence farms throughout the province this financial year. "And all those who had limited access to mechanisation must benefit," he said.

He said government believed the tractors would not only help subsistence farmers improve production, but also assist them to eventually gain access to domestic and global markets.

The MEC encouraged the subsistence farmers to work together to ensure that no land lies fallow in their areas.

The farmers will be able to access the tractors and other farming equipment at various services centres across the province.

The Sekhukhune district received 18 tractors while 15 were given to Mopani, 15 to Vhembe, 14 to Capricorn and 10 to Waterberg.

The department will increase the number of tractors to 300 to encourage more people to turn to farming as a livelihood and increase food production.

Marule told the farmers that the tractors will remain the property of the department. "They will remain being the department's assets but we urge community members to protect them," he said.

He assured tractor owners who have been renting their tractors to subsistence farmers that their services will still be needed.

"As a department, we do not wish to disadvantage the local tractor operators but we want to complement their service," Marule said.

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