NC budget highlights: Five agri projects to watch closely

First, the department bailed Warrenton Super Chicken out of debt. This year, the department appointed a specialist to help the business turn a profit. Northern Cape agri MEC Mase Manopole takes stock of some of the work her department has recently done

Warrenton Super Chicken and raisin farming in the Northern Cape were two of the projects MEC Mase Manopole zoomed into during her budget speech on Tuesday (21 June 2022). Photos: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Warrenton Super Chicken and raisin farming in the Northern Cape were two of the projects MEC Mase Manopole zoomed into during her budget speech on Tuesday (21 June 2022). Photos: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Northern Cape agriculture, environmental affairs, rural development and land reform MEC Mase Manopole did not only table her R686-million budget yesterday, but also highlighted successes from the past 12 months.

These are the projects which she zoomed into, and will be worth a watch in the future.

1. Warrenton Super Chicken

Warrenton Super Chicken is a poultry cooperative just outside of Warrenton along the N12 and has not been able to generate any profit since its establishment in 2002.

It initially comprised of 60 shareholders, who have whittled down to only ten over the years. A lack of good governance eventually led the enterprise to default on a loan from the Land Bank and the bank put the farm on auction in 2009.

“As the department, we rescued the situation by repaying the loan owed by Warrenton Super Chicken to the bank,” Manopole said.

“This year, we have intervened by appointing a business change specialist to assist with a turnaround strategy to revive the poultry business and improve the economy of the area.”

The specialist will also assist the business with legal and governance issues and secure stable market access.

“[Thanks to] the department’s intervention, I can proudly report that Warrenton Super Chicken is back on its feet again,” Manopole said.

Warrenton Super Chicken now has a consultant at its disposal, thanks to the Northern Cape department of agriculture, environmental affairs, rural development and land reform. Photo: Supplied

2. De Aar Abattoir

Manopole said the department had made a commitment last year to the De Aar Abattoir to help it stay in business. A top need had been a permanent state veterinarian as the European Union requires ante-mortem and post-mortem inspections of all animal products due for exportation.

“I am glad to announce that, through public-private partnership, we managed to get the service of a private veterinarian to assist at the abattoir,” the MEC said in her speech. “The private sector came on board and assisted government by providing the service of a vet to assist the abattoir, as we are in a process of appointing a veterinarian permanently – a process which will be finalised in this financial year.”

Manopole said the appointment will ensure that the abattoir remains registered for the lucrative export market to the EU and current employment of personnel is guaranteed.

The abattoir employs 33 workers from De Aar and adjacent areas.

ALSO READ: Black raisin farmers to benefit from R28 m. investment

3. Rooibos and raisins

Manopole said the department will continue to support the Nieuwoudtville Bokkeveld Rooibos Tea Factory, as well as raisin farmers in the province. She said the support will centre around agro-processing infrastructure where applicable and possible, particularly for South Africa Good Agricultural Practices (SA GAP) accreditation.

The tea factory was established by the department in 2008 to become an economic hub for the rooibos industry in Nieuwoudtville and has the capacity to process 3 000 tonnes of tea every year.

The processed product is distributed to both local and international markets.

Regarding the grape and raisin industry, about 88% of the country’s raisins, approximately a third of the country’s fresh grapes and 10% of the country’s total wine.

Manopole said the equivalent of 50 000 permanent jobs are created, with significant investment in infrastructure to enable the sector to export and earn much-needed foreign currency. This, while significant flooding and rising input costs are currently putting farmers under pressure.

MEC Mase Manopole during a previous visit to the rooibos facility in Nieuwoudtville. Photo: Supplied

4. Farmers across the province

The MEC said in her speech that the department’s objective of empowering women, young people and people with disabilities in the agricultural sector is yielding positive results. She hopes to see more of these farmers move from communal to established commercial farming.

Through conditional grants, the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Program (CASP) and Illima/Letsema, support will be upped to help 736 men, 376 women and 206 young people from the Pixley ka Seme, ZF Mgcawu and Namakwa Districts.

The MEC also noted that about 406 expanded public work opportunities were created last year, while about 550 are envisioned for the coming year.

The budget for farmer support in the 2022-2023 financial year is R239 million in total.

The MEC during a food security awareness school visit earlier this year. Photo: Supplied

5. Food security projects

At the province’s smaller food security projects, about R400 000 will be spent in the Pixley ka Seme District, almost R800 000 in the Francis Baard District and R650 000 in the ZF Mgcawu District.

In Namakwa, a mini aquaphonics system to the value of R1.9million is envisioned.

ALSO READ: Manopole gives biggest budget slice to farmer support

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