Enterprises in the agricultural sector are being urged by the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Thoko Didiza, to submit information about their current Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) status.
In an exclusive interview with Food For Mzansi, Didiza said that her department had written to a number of agricultural enterprises to ask them to report on their B-BBEE status in accordance with the B-BBEE Amendment Act 46 of 2013.
“This is important for us – to look at how we can ensure inclusivity in the agricultural sector,” Didiza said.
“We know that this industry, for a long time, has benefited a few, while a majority of subsistence producers – who are key for food security – have not been able to grow from where they are.”
B-BBEE was introduced to empower black South Africans in business, who were previously marginalised from participating in the economy of Mzansi under the apartheid regime.
The objectives of AgriBEE are to facilitate broad-based black economic empowerment in the agricultural sector by implementing initiatives to include black South Africans at all levels of agricultural activity and enterprises.
“We know that the way in which some of the enterprises have recruited skills, have always been [recruiting] the majority, low-level skills of people who will work only as labourers. Not that that is not important, but it’s important to look at how companies are actually complying with the B-BBEE status,” Didiza told Food For Mzansi.
The minister deems it important to guarantee that the sector complies with the B-BBEE status requirements, “and to ensure we create opportunities for those who were historically disadvantaged to fully participate in the sector. That is why we have asked for this report, to make sure that, indeed, we comply as a sector.”
Enterprises are requested to submit their B-BBEE status certificates, verification scorecards or – in the case of qualifying enterprises – sworn affidavits electronically to RudolphA@dalrrd.gov.za. Submissions can also be made through the AgriBEE IT Portal before 31 October 2021.
Sihlobo makes another big move
The development facilitation agency Seriti Institute announced that it has recruited South African agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo as its newest board member.
Sihlobo, who is the chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz), said he was excited about joining the board and contributing to its essential work in empowering various communities in the country.
“South Africa is currently in a challenging period of higher unemployment and rising poverty, and Seriti Institute is one of the institutions that are ever more critical in driving community-led development in addressing this twin challenge,” Sihlobo said.
“I hope to humbly contribute to Seriti Institute’s agricultural work. This particular sector could play a notable role in improving socio-economic conditions in rural and semi-urban areas of South Africa. I look forward to working with the Seriti Institute team.”
Seriti Institute’s chief executive officer, Juanita Pardesi, said that they considered it a privilege to welcome Sihlobo to the Seriti Institute family.
“[He] brings unique expertise and energy that will help to strengthen and continue leading Seriti forward to better serve our social partners and the communities in which we work,” Pardesi added.
Sihlobo’s extensive leadership experience, Pardesi believes, will not only support Seriti Institute on the path to ensuring communities and social partners enhance their socio-economic impact but also contribute to strengthening their work in the agricultural sector.
Eastern Cape MEC inspired by youth
In the Eastern Cape, in the Great Kei Municipality’s Mangqukela Village in Mooiplaas, farmers were in high spirits when rural development and agrarian reform (DRDAR) MEC Nonkqubela Pieters donated 1 400 seedlings to a local cooperative.
The cooperative, named Chicago Primary Co-op, owns a four-hectare piece of land. There they grow potatoes and maize as well as leafy vegetables which they sell at a Spar supermarket and the surrounding community.
Pieters noted that the passion of the youth in the village was inspiring, adding that she was happy to be engaged by young people who are working with their parents in the farming industry.
“The agricultural sector has been historically dominated by men and some are now elderly, hence I applaud the involvement of youth in this project.
“It is essential to work with youngsters in this industry so that they can see the value of the land where the wealth is,” Pieters said.
Veldfire relief efforts boosted in the Northern Cape
Help is now coming from what seems to be the unlikeliest of places in the heart-breaking wake of the recent Northern Cape veldfires, which have caused widespread devastation in only a few days.
Farmers and their families, farmworkers and other members of farming communities gathered to fight against the fires that ripped through parts of the province.
The Kimberley diamond mining company Ekapa and Northern Cape-based agribusiness GWK have now joined forces to aid where farmers and other community members are fighting fires.
Together, Ekapa and GWK have managed to build up an emergency crisis fund to the value of R2 million since the beginning of the week to provide assistance in collaboration with and through coordination by Agri Northern Cape.
Nicol Jansen, Agri Northern Cape’s president, dubbed it an honour to be trusted as the implementation agency.
“Agri Northern Cape will implement this project through the Agri Northern Cape Foundation, which is well positioned to handle disaster relief and fundraising.”
Other corporates, businesses and individuals, he said, are welcome to join this project to discuss value proposition options available by contribution to this worthy cause.
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