The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on 6 April 2020 issued a call for applications in respect of a COVID-19 Agricultural Disaster Support Fund (CADS Fund). The Department stated that they had ring-fenced R1,2 billion to assist financially distressed smallholder and communal farmers. The applications opened on 8 April 2020 and closed on 22 April 2020.
On 17 May 2020 Minister Thoko Didiza announced the outcome of the CADS Fund application process. She stated that 15 036 applications have been approved, valued at just over R500 million. She also stated that all applications will be finalised in the week of 17 May 2020 and that issuance of vouchers to provinces will commence on 18 May 2020.
Since the date of the issuing of the media statement, Saai has been informed by various family farmers that they received confirmation of receipt, but that their applications have been rejected without any reasons being provided, while others said that they have not received any feedback from the Department as to whether their applications have been approved and/or rejected (despite the fact that processes relating to the call for applications have already been finalised).
“Saai’s members who applied included Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) farmers, disabled farmers, communal farmers and smallholder farmers from all ages, races and genders, and all were rejected,” says Francois Rossouw, CEO of Saai.
In light of the above, Saai has instructed its legal team to request the Department to confirm, in writing, whether all processes have indeed been finalised and, if not, to confirm by when such processes will be finalised. Saai also requested that the Department informs all applicants whether their applications have been accepted or not and, if their applications have been rejected, to provide such rejected applicants with adequate reasons.
“Should the Department fail to comply with the requests set out above, Saai will continue with further action to ensure that adequate reasons are supplied to all applicants,” Rossouw adds.