Farmers register unveiled to improve inaccurate statistics

Minister of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, has unveiled the much-anticipated National Farmers Register which will help improve inaccurate and/or distorted statistics of commercial farmers and smallholder farmers.

Launched on Monday, the Producer Farmer Register (PFR) is a tool for collecting statistical data on commercial farmers and smallholders, in which information on the geography and demographics of farms and farmers, production activities, as well as infrastructure is collected in South Africa.

As an important player in the growth of the economy, the department needs reliable data for its planning, among others, the preservation of food security and the eradication of hunger, to know the geographical location of farmers as well as only for purposes of monitoring the impact of ministerial interventions.

The department undertook this task to understand its customer base, both in terms of size and scale of operation.

The launch of the Farmers Registry follows the release of the Agricultural Census published by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) in 2019/2020, which mainly covered commercial farmers.

Didiza said while the Stats SA survey was encouraging, the department still lacked data on the country’s small producers.

“The purpose of the survey was to obtain data that will tell us where smallholders are in the scope, their demographics, their production as well as their contribution to employment.”

To ensure this work meets statistical requirements, the minister said the department needs to work with Stats SA on the development of the model. The ministry also had to work with the provincial directorates of agriculture because “it is there that, on a daily basis, farmers receive their services”.

“In 2020, we had 95,501 farmers registered in our register. This number is further delimited in terms of provinces. An interesting feature is that in some provinces there are more female producers,” the minister said.

In terms of age category, the department found that in 2020, KwaZulu-Natal had more young farmers, followed by the Eastern Cape.

Smallholder farmers involved in animal production

Regarding the operation or production of farmers, Didiza said the register confirmed that more smallholders and subsistence farmers are involved in animal production, followed by crops and mixed farming.

According to the minister, the register is important as it will enable the government in terms of support as well as monitoring the performance of the government and the farmers themselves.

“The Farmer Registry covers feasible smallholder farmers in all provinces and it is important to note that not all farmers were reached in this phase of the registry, due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. registration of farmers is ongoing as the department is always attracting more farmers to its database in all provinces,” Didiza said.

The data collected partly includes households; subsistence, medium-scale and commercial farmers based on plant growing and horticulture, animal production and mixed farming.

(With contributions from the South African government press release)

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