Environment, forestry and fisheries director-general Nomfundo Tshabalala wants South Africa’s environment and agriculture sectors to band together in the fight against climate change.
Tshabalala spoke on the topic “Agriculture in harmony with the environment” yesterday (Thursday, 14 October) during Agri SA’s 2021 congress.
During her speech, she highlighted why the two sectors could not be better placed to integrate efforts and to work closely towards improving the state’s national development agenda, while also realising the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.
The two-day congress is being hosted under the theme “Survive and thrive in the future, the agricultural way”. According to Tshabalala, this is very apt considering the current global circumstances.
“As a department we view this congress as critical in engaging in matters of the agricultural sector being in harmony with the environment,” Tshabalala told attendees.
“The department has a key role in ensuring that that the biodiversity sector contributes to the economy. Managing the biodiversity sector is one of our key responsibilities.”
Rich, diverse ecosystems benefit agri
South Africa is endowed with unique and superlative indigenous biological resources. It is home to a variety of species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, Tshabalala reminded congress-goers.
She further pointed out that South Africa is among the 17 megadiverse countries of the world, and the third most megadiverse country after Brazil and Indonesia. These countries were identified by Conservation International for their extraordinary biodiversity.
A total of 10% of the world’s plant species grows here, while 15% of the world’s coastal marine species and 7% of reptile beds and mammals can be found in the country.
“These rich, diverse ecosystems,” Tshabalala said, “improve maintenance of soil fertility, biota and pollination and provide economically viable services such as improving water availability, water availability for irrigating the agricultural industry and for human consumption.”
They also reduce sedimentation in reservoirs and reduce floods, earthquakes and droughts. Lastly, they provide essential habitats for economically important species, Tshabalala added.
Create conducive environments
In recognising the need for the agricultural and environment sectors to work together, Tshabalala also noted that there were already collaborative efforts taking place between the two sectors.
She cited collaborations around the management of disease outbreaks, sustainable land management and drought, alien and invasive species management and animal welfare and well-being management.
But most importantly, they work together on industry compliance and enforcement.
Tshabalala said, “It’s always crucial that in executing respective legislative mandates, the two departments continue to strive towards creating a stimulus and conducive one-stop environment for the agricultural industry to enjoy services.”
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