North West unemployment figures have hit the 54% mark, according to Statistic South Africa, and agriculture MEC Desbo Mohono wants to eradicate joblessness in the sector.
Mohono presented her R1.2 billion 2023-24 budget in the province yesterday. She plans to use her budget for farmer development, as well as creating 4 000 agricultural jobs in the province.
Mohono promised an action-orientated approach to delivering her departmental mandate in the next financial year.
Various job-creation interventions are set to be rolled out, while producer support development will mostly be through CASP and Ilima Letsema, Mohono explained.
“There will also be Landcare green jobs and rural development to contribute mainly through expanded public works programmes, rural infrastructure projects and farmer training which includes mentorship.
“As a department, we have started from small beginnings and thus far we have made strides, from 10 bee farmers we now stand at over [the] 60 mark,” she said.
Mohono added that partnerships would be the cornerstone of achieving growth, and rural development and creating jobs in rural provinces like the North West.
In collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, land reform and rural development, Agriculture Research Council and North West University, a total of 2 500 farmers will be empowered through farmer training and capacity building, Mohono said.
Addressing the state of the Taung and Potchefstroom agricultural colleges, Mohono vowed that this would be fixed in the new financial year. For the 2023/2024 academic year, the two colleges received 489 new students from across the province.
“The memorandum of understanding between the department and North West University is already bearing fruits through the increased skills exchange in the area of arable farming,” Mohono said.
Access to markets remains a concern for farmers in the province, she added.
“Agricultural market information is essential for the commercialisation of smallholder farmers to become market-orientated entrepreneurs. This intervention will be achieved through the analyses of various agricultural marketing value chains in livestock, horticulture, and field crops subsectors.”
Mohono said in order to address the challenges facing agricultural markets, the basket of agricultural commodities needed to be broadened with value-added products that are intended for local and export markets.
Furthermore, as the mining province, Mohono said collaboration with mining houses is key to ensuring food security in those communities.
“We are pleased to announce that the Mining Development Agency (MDA) is partnering with the department to develop our communities by training our farmers on relevant skills needed.
“As we speak, we have the agri hub in Marikana from Sibanye Mine, and also our farmers are developed and trained in Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati,” she said.
Part of her department’s efforts around market access is to engage and encourage mining houses and the hospitality industry to buy locally.
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