Agriculture is well positioned to help KwaZulu-Natal emerge from the covid-19 crisis and will have an important role to play in the province’s economic recovery plan as South Africa gradually moves out of economic lockdown.
The province will focus on increasing the productivity of women, youth and persons with disabilities as part of their recovery plan for the agricultural economy, said the deputy director-general of the KZN department of agriculture and rural development, Jerry Mfusi, during a webinar presented by his department.
In his presentation, Mfusi unpacked the province’s proposed pillars in the strategy to bring the agricultural economy back onto a growth course.
He said that the province has favourable climatic conditions allowing for a wide variety of agricultural practices.
“KZN has a total of 6,5 million hectares of land suitable for farming purposes of which 82% is suitable for extensive livestock production, while 18% compromises arable land. The global decline in food production also presents us with an opportunity to export,” Mfusi said.
Bongi Sithole-Moloi, KZN MEC for agriculture, said that severe economic distress was caused by the outbreak and subsequent spread of the novel coronavirus.
“As we have seen, the pandemic does not only kill people, but it also kills economies. The KZN provincial government has resolved to develop a covid-19 economic recovery plan focusing on key sectors of the economy, and agriculture is one of them,” she said.
Elaborating on the MEC’s plan, Mfusi said: “The focus will be to increase the productivity of women, youth and persons with disabilities, through enabling them to make use of opportunities that exist in terms of climate and access to government initiatives.”
The recovery plan is built on eight pillars, designed to unlock the province’s agricultural economy to its full potential. They are:
- Fast-tracking RASET (Radical Agrarian Socio-economic Transformation) execution in land reform farms and rural industries;
- Protecting jobs in the food value chain;
- Investing in farm-gate and off-farm agricultural infrastructure;
- Establishing a pre and post value chain fund;
- Supporting mechanization and production inputs relief;
- Expanding training and mentorship programmes for farmers, farm workers and farm-dwellers;
- Accelerating access to market and support for agro-logistics; and
- Rolling out economic relief and local buying to commercial and small-scale farms.