Farmer 101: Experts clarify agri master plan

Have you been wondering what all the fuss about the signing of the Agricultural Agro-processing Master Plan is about? Wonder no more by listening to this Gather To Grow discussion which breaks it down

If you’ve been hearing about the Agricultural Agro-processing Master Plan a lot lately it’s because it was recently signed by the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Thoko Didiza, and industry role players. The master plan, widely dubbed as a step in the right direction for the sector, follows extensive research and stakeholder engagements that took more than 24 months.

But what exactly is the master plan about, what does it seek to achieve and what are the next steps now that it has been signed? To answer these questions, Food For Mzansi recently hosted a Gather To Grow discussion on Twitter with industry experts.

Joining the conversation was Dr Sifiso Ntombela, chief economist at the National Agricultural Marketing Council and deputy president of the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa; Christo van der Rheede, executive director at Agri SA; Keatlegile Mnguni, chairperson of Afasa’s youth desk; and David Fincham, founder of David Fincham Aquaculture.

Expansion of market access

Ntombela, who was very involved in the formulation of the master plan, said that the country generated 50% of its revenue in the agricultural sector from international markets. However, market access needs to be expanded.

“One of the key objectives of the master plan is to ensure that we create new export markets [as well as] capitalising on the African continental free trade agreement. We also need to pay attention to maintaining the existing market,” Ntombela said.

Explaining why she thought the plan was vital in ensuring longevity and economic growth within the sector, Mnguni said that it would assist in addressing the youth unemployment rate in the country, as well as the inequality and exclusion she believed youth in the sector faced. “The plan will unlock barriers and give access to young agriculturists to improve the overall common agri challenges.”

Meanwhile, according to Van der Rheede, the agricultural sector needs to be protected and developed. The master plan, he believes, is key to achieving these efforts.

“We must make sure that our farmers provide affordable food, food that is available, and healthy. We must make sure that the sector provides the basis for a value chain that can serve this country,” he said.

 In the podcast, experts also touched on:

Watch: Exclusive with Didiza on Master Plan signing

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