Not registered on SA's farmer database yet? Don't fear – Food For Mzansi

Mzansi’s new farmer register aims to help the agri department better understand and support farmers in South Africa. Photos: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Despite it being almost 100 000 farmers strong, the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development’s new farmer database is an ongoing project and farmers who are not on it yet, can still be added in time.
Reggie Ngcobo, spokesperson for the department, says that farmers can go to their nearest regional office to get onto the new register that has been in the making since 2018. This comes as minister Thoko Didiza this week released some statistical data which was collected as part of its Producer Farmer Register project.
Especially small-scale farmers had long called for a farmer register to aid government in its supporting duties towards farmers. Data collection was finally launched by the former department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries to run from 2018 to 2021. The information of almost 100 000 farmers have been captured since to form the newly launched register.
Apart from evidence of farmers’ location and what they are farming with, as basic information, data also includes information on the household, whether it is a subsistence, medium or commercial farm, and details on farming activities such as cultivation of crops and horticulture, livestock production and mixed farming.
At the launch event this week, Didiza explained that her department had decided to undertake this important task to understand its client base. She emphasised that it will enable government to support farmers and to monitor their performance in the sector.
A total of 95 501 farmers, delineated per province, are registered.
“One interesting feature is that in some provinces there are more female producers. In terms of [age] we have found that, during the year 2020, KwaZulu-Natal had [the most] young farmers, followed by the Eastern Cape.”
Smallholder and subsistence farmers are more involved in livestock production, followed by crops and mixed farming.
Through the Census of Commercial Agriculture, the register project was done in collaboration with Statistics South Africa as a service provider with the necessary expertise. “In order to ensure that this work meets the statistical requirement, the department had to work with Statistic South Africa on the development of the model,” Didiza said. Provincial agriculture departments also contributed to the project.
The department furthermore chose to work with Stats SA to ensure accuracy in the data collected and to ensure that information can be analysed to understand the issues affecting farmers. 
Ngcobo says that Stats SA delivered its findings in September 2019, after which the department started data collection on smallholder farmers in November the same year. Due to the disruptive effect of Covid-19, work was extended into the last months of 2021.
The farmer register also covered only attainable smallholder farmers across Mzansi’s provinces and the department expects the database to grow.
ALSO READ: Covid-19 support ‘misses the mark for smallholders’
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Tiisetso Manoko is a seasoned journalist with vast experience in community media. He possesses diploma in media studies majoring in journalism, certificate in civic leadership. He loves news from all angels with particular interest in local government, agriculture and politics. He is a staunch Mamelodi Sundowns Football club supporter.
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