The Limpopo department of agriculture and rural development MEC has vowed to put the development of farmers first because without development, there would be no farmers producing various commodities.
Opening the two-day summit on the Revitalising Agriculture, Agro-processing and Value Chain (RAAVC), MEC Thabo Mokone said although there are challenges, the government is committed to overcoming them and reviving the ailing economy.
‘We need to make this work’
Mokone said RAAVC is a plan that was drafted by the provincial government to align with the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan with a key focus on aligning private and public sectors in one direction.
“The summit is bringing together sector role players to take stock of the progress made in the implementation of the RAAVC plan in 2021.
“There are challenges we are facing as the department. There is inadequate or a lack of agricultural, technical, financial knowledge and experience of beneficiaries to run farming operations,” he said.
Mokone said while the aim of the summit was to unlock the great potential that the province has in the agriculture value chain, they cannot divorce the local challenges farmers and the industry are facing.
“Again, we discerned a lack of financial resources and funding mechanisms to finance the operational farming equipment and machinery and infrastructure developmental requirements.
“There is a sleepless challenge of water where water rights are, in some cases, not transferred to the new owners when the land is purchased,” Mokone said.
The MEC said communal property associations, organisations, and structures were in many cases delaying projects that are meant to revive communities and create jobs.
“In the midst of these challenges, land tenure erodes the attraction of private sector investments and involvement in the identified and selected projects.
“There are conflicts amongst beneficiaries for leadership positions that had decelerated progress, particularly on community (CPA) owned projects,” he said.
Milking Limpopo’s potential
Meanwhile, Dr Matlou Kalaba from the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP), said the government and relevant stakeholders needed to work together. Kalaba, however, cautioned that if challenges of ports, load shedding, biosecurity, and infrastructure were not addressed, the gains that were made are going to be fruitless.
“We are in a country where we are experiencing a weaker economy, the demand is slowing down while the production is increasing, which leads to prices hitting the consumer the most,” he said.
Kalaba said the decline in commodities which Limpopo had initially been leading is a concern that needs intervention by the government to promote the growth of the sector in the province.
Chief executive of the National Agricultural Marketing Council Dr Simphiwe Ngqangweni said the implementation of the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan was going to happen.
Making it happen
“I think we must applaud the Limpopo government for their RAAVC plan; it will be important that we at national level meet after this summit and continue engaging.
“Implementation of the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan will happen because we all know what to do. We decided that we will not revamp but take all policies and create a single document which we can work from,” he said.
Ngqangweni told the delegates about the importance of the master plan and the ability for it to unlock great potential in the sector.
He called on everyone to rally behind the master plans, both from the province and the nation, with the key focus of having a sector that caters for its people.
Acting head of the Limpopo department of agriculture and rural development Jethro Nowata said although there were commodities that were doing well in other regions, the aim was to have all regions flourishing in their specific commodity.
“It is very important that as a department we advocate for producing because we want to own the whole value chain. You cannot process when you have not produced.
“In terms of livestock, it is very important to highlight to our farmers that roaming animals across the province is a danger but also that there is money walking around that can be either stolen or cause harm, so we need to tighten our security in that regard,” he said.
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