The minister of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has launched the establishment of the Producer/Farmer Register (PFR), which will run from 2018 to 2021 assisted by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) as a service provider with expertise.

The department asked Stats SA to provide them with services to embark on a process of statistics collection of commercial and non-commercial farmers. The statistics on commercial farmers will be collected through a Census of Commercial Agriculture (COCA) and statistics on non-commercial farmers will be collected through the PFR.

Whilst DAFF will collect data on non-commercial farmers, Stats SA is collecting data on commercial agriculture on behalf of the department.

The 2018 State-of-the-Nation address by the president highlighted the importance of the agricultural sector in economic growth within the value chain, and the preservation of food security to reduce poverty and sustain the country. In pursuit of this task, it is critical for government to have reliable statistics and information trends about agriculture, forestry and fisheries as sectors to enable better planning and decision-making.

The establishment of the PFR for South Africa will address the following areas for the sector and the country:

  • To improve the inaccurate and misrepresented statistics of farmers in the non-commercial
  • sector and, in particular, the smallholder farmers across the country.
  • To have a basis from which the agriculture, forestry and fisheries
  • sector performance can be measured in the non-commercial sector.
  • To enable development of indicators in line with Medium Term Strategic
  • Framework (MTSF) and National Development Plan (NDP). These indicators
  • will help in identifying progress in achieving government outcomes.
  • To accurately identify smallholder farmers in terms of their geographic
  • distribution and agricultural activities.
  • To establish an up-to-date frame of reference for conducting agricultural
  • sector surveys in the country.
  • To track the impact of agricultural support amongst beneficiaries in agriculture
  • and development of strategies to help producers overcome the challenges
  • related to natural and unnatural disasters.
  • To account for beneficiaries in agriculture who are entitled to support
  • services.

This Producer/Farmer Register is going to be an important database for government.

Stats SA is therefore assisting the department, through their expertise, in handling the census of commercial farmers. The department will be handling the PFR, also with guidance and expertise from Stats SA. This two-phase project has been endorsed and supported by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The agricultural sector is an important contributor to the GDP and its impact was evidenced by its bailing out of the economy during the technical recession in 2017. Its poor performance this year has affected the country’s economy with GDP figures reflecting the economic distress. As government, we have a duty to make interventions and other forms of support to the sector so that it performs maximally and continues to grow.

The minister appeals to all smallholder producers and farmers to register during this process. “Extension officers will be approaching smallholder producers and farmers and I am urging them to open their gates to allow this project to succeed,” said the minister. “Related to this is our request for producers and farmers to volunteer the relevant information they have which is necessary for this project. We want to emphasise that this registration project has no link to the current discourse around expropriation of land without compensation,” he concluded. – Press release