Ahead of the much-anticipated 2024 provincial and national government elections, clear policy direction and implementation will be key to ensure that hunger, poverty and unemployment are eradicated in the foreseeable future.
Kick-starting Food For Mzansi’s AgriFuture SA conference in Pretoria in celebration of the publication’s fifth birthday, Leona Archary, chief executive of the Agricultural Development Agency (Agda), said without collaboration and partnership the future of agriculture on all levels is bleak and uncertain.
Policy implementation is crucial
Archary said political will is needed to ensure that projects and policies are not reinvented but rather monitored and implemented to their ability.
“We should not be in the sector to compete but build each other and the country we are in, mostly the agricultural sector.
“Collaboration through partnerships, joint ventures, and cooperatives offers a promising path for the future of agriculture in South Africa,” she said.
Archary added that if all sector partners could embrace the approach of partnership and collaboration, a lot could be done to harness the power of collective action to overcome challenges, drive inclusivity, and foster sustainable growth.
She emphasised that it is important that the implementation of policies is not delayed any longer if the economy needs to be revived.
“Going into the 2024 year, political decision-making will be crucial; such decisions need to be done faster because young people are losing hope.
“We need to be consistent in implementing our decisions and policies, we cannot go 12 months in implementing a policy. Political interference is needed the most there,” she said.
Tie up loose ends now
Archary spoke on the importance of strengthening land reform implementation, trade and exports – which are in demand now for South Africa – as well as addressing climate change and technology adoption.
She further spoke on the importance of reprioritising rural development, addressing the long-standing land reform factor, and improving food security.
“Inconsistent policies or regulations create uncertainty which hampers investment decisions and growth opportunities. Issues like land reform, trade agreements, or environmental regulations need clear guidelines for effective decision-making,” she said.
According to Archery, policymakers, farmers, researchers, and industry players must collaborate to address these challenges for sustainable agricultural development.
“Research shows that collaborative farming initiatives can bring numerous benefits such as increased negotiating power, improved access to farm technology, more efficient operations, and enhanced access to funding.
“In South Africa, we must embrace this approach if we want to drive inclusivity and foster growth in the agricultural sector,” she said.
Changing the agricultural landscape
Acknowledging the importance of collaboration from media houses to ordinary farmers in far-flung areas in South Africa, Food For Mzansi co-founder and editor-in-chief Ivor Price said engagement is pivotal.
“As we stand on the brink of a critical election year, the agricultural landscape is at a pivotal juncture. It is here, in this space, under the theme ‘Nurturing tomorrow’s harvest’.
“It is important that we embark on an extraordinary journey, one that will define not only the trajectory of agriculture but also set the tone for public discourse throughout 2024,” he said.
Price added that it was important that all stakeholders collaborate, learn and set the course for a sustainable, inclusive, and prosperous future for South Africa’s agricultural landscape.
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