Key focus areas for the Limpopo department of agriculture and rural development in the new financial year include youth development and agro-processing. This is according to MEC Thabo Mokone, who delivered his budget vote recently.
Mokone’s R1.7-billion budget is expected to improve animal health services, agricultural colleges, agro-processing, agricultural development, environmentally friendly farming practices, climate change, and more.
To ensure animal health services get the much-needed attention, R193 million has been allocated towards the improvement of veterinary services.
“While the focus has been on foot-and-mouth disease, we should not forget about preventative measures for other diseases, such as rabies. We need to improve our vaccination drive and target 70% vaccination against rabies disease,” Mokone said.
A further R158 million has been allocated to the Tompi Seleka College of Agriculture and Madzivhandila College of Agriculture. This allocation is expected to cater to students’ academic programmes, college infrastructure, revitalising, and learnership programmes.
Focus on development
The province also plans to expand agricultural production across the value chain and ultimately enhance the sector’s inclusive growth, job creation, and food security. To achieve this, the department allocated R30 million towards the revitalisation of agriculture and agro-processing.
According to Mokone, the money will also be used to revive the citrus industry in different parts of the province with a key focus on upskilling small-scale farmers.
Mokone said that as a rural province, his department has taken a stand to evangelise agriculture and farming to as many households as possible. It should not be seen as a leisure activity that only a few can participate in.
“As part of evangelism, together with the department of education, we are working on a mechanism to support our agricultural schools, because they have a pivotal role to play.
“The aim is that these schools continue to serve as a foundation for agricultural development in our province, to increase the participation of young people in the whole value chain of agriculture,” he said.
Tackling climate change
Mokone emphasised that adaptation and environmentally friendly farming practices should be the order of the day to combat climate change and avoid regress, which could lead to food insecurity.
“Our farmers should understand that climate change is here and is affecting the sector. We need to bring everyone to the table to come up with lasting solutions on how Limpopo province can continue farming and being the food basket of the country amid climate change challenges,” Mokone said.
To this end, the department has set aside R137 million for sustainable and climate change-friendly farming initiatives.
“The department is also keeping a close eye on how climate change is affecting all agricultural industries and shaping critical narratives about their future. We commit to initiating and participating in various research that promotes the role of sustainable production strategies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Mokone said.
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