The decision by the National Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni to make further cuts to the Western Cape Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme Grant (CASP) by R1.04 million and the Ilima/Letsema Projects Grant by R492 000 is worrisome.
This comes at the same time as R10.5 billion will be made available to bail out South African Airways (SAA).
This warped prioritisation is a result of the failure to make tough choices needed for a real recovery, that would ensure jobs, safety and dignity in South Africa.
This further round of budget cuts means that the CASP budget is reduced by R74 407m (45%) over the last year.
The Ilima/ Letsema grant is reduced by R21 124 m (34%) million over the same period.
These budget cuts impact on the success of land reform initiatives such as the WCDoA's Black Producers Commercialisation Programme (BPCP). Budgets meant for the fifty commercial farmers linked to the BPCP will now have to be reduced, because of this lack of funding.
The WCDoA will also not be able to fund three agri-processing initiatives.
The CASP is critical to providing effective agricultural support services to smallholder and black commercial farmers, promoting and facilitating agricultural development by targeting beneficiaries of land reform, restitution and redistribution in the Western Cape.
It simply makes no sense for money to be provided to a failed public airline, at the expense of these dignity-enhancing projects.
The WCDoA and the Agricultural Sector are ready to do whatever we can towards assisting with an economic recovery, creating jobs safety and dignity for the people of the Western Cape, even in this difficult financial environment.
Agriculture proved itself resilient during this unprecedented pandemic, and it remains the backbone of food security, good nutrition, and land reform in our province. We will keep on backing it, so we can keep on moving forward.