Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza, has unveiled the much awaited country farmer register which will help improve the inaccurate and/or misrepresented statistics of farmers in the commercial sector and smallholder farmers.
Launched on Monday, the Producer Farmer Register (PFR) is a statistical data collection tool on commercial and smallholder farmers, in which information on geographical and demography of farms and farmers, production activities, as well as infrastructure is collected in South Africa.
As an important role player in the growth of the economy, the department requires reliable data for its planning for among others, the preservation of food security, and eradication of hunger, to know the geographical location of farmers as well as for purposes of monitoring the impact of departmental interventions.
The department undertook this task to understand its client base, both in terms of size and scale of operation.
The launch of farmers register follows the release of Agriculture Census released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) in 2019/2020, which covered mainly commercial farmers.
Didiza said while the survey by Stats SA was encouraging, the department was still short of data about smallholder producers in the country.
“The aim of the survey was to get data that will tell us where the smallholders are in the outreach, their demographics, production as well as their contribution to employment.”
To ensure that this work meets the statistical requirement, the Minister said the department had to work with Stats SA on the development of the model. The department also had to work with the Provincial Departments of Agriculture because “this is where, on a daily basis, farmers receive their services.”
“In 2020, we had 95 501 registered farmers in our register. This number is further delineated in terms of provinces. One interesting feature is that in some provinces there are more female producers,” said the Minister.
In terms of the age category, the department found that during 2020, KwaZulu-Natal had more young farmers, followed by Eastern Cape.
Smallholder farmers involved in livestock production
With regard to operation or farmers’ production, Didiza said the register has confirmed that more smallholder and subsistence farmers are involved in livestock production, followed by crops and mixed farming.
According to the Minister, the register is important, because it will enable government in terms of support as well as monitoring government’s performance and farmers themselves.
“The farmer register covers attainable smallholder farmers across provinces and it is important to note that not all farmers were reached in this phase of the register, due COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Farmers registration is ongoing, as the department is still attracting more farmers on its database in all the provinces,” Didiza said.
The data collected partly includes households; subsistence, medium-scale and commercial farmers based on cultivation of crops and horticulture, livestock production and mixed farming.