North West premier Bushy Maape has allocated R11 million to an agricultural development fund to train 120 unemployed graduates this financial year. Agriculture has the potential to create jobs and alleviate poverty, he said in his maiden State of the Province Address.
“If we’re unable to resolve basic challenges at a local level, our people will not believe that we can address bigger social challenges of crime, poverty, inequality and unemployment,” he said.
According to Maape, his administration was going all out to revive the provincial economy and agriculture is the driving force to create jobs.
“In the year ahead, the department of agriculture and rural development will be taking forward its crop massification programme and will also be finalising the irrigation master plan for the province, which will include optimising effective use of the Taung, Disaneng, Molatedi and Hartebeespoort irrigation schemes.”
The premier said across the province stakeholders in the farming community had made it clear that North West had great potential for agricultural production and agro-processing activities.
“I am pleased to announce that the department is stepping up its development and implementation of the national cannabis master plan, whose primary objective is commercialisation of cannabis for medicinal and industrial use within food and beverage spaces.
“There is also a potential for engaging in the production of new crops and cultivation of arable land previously neglected in all the four districts,” he said.
‘Bring government closer to the people’
Maape furthermore announced that his administration would release 48 farm portions to communities to aid land reform, black economic empowerment and the alleviation of poverty.
Meanwhile, Taung grain farmer Tshepiso Jantjies called on the North West government to accelerate support for farmers, especially in rural areas where it was most needed. Another farmer, John Nyathi, said government needed to bring services to people to expose the most disadvantaged communities to funding and training opportunities.
“We are asking that government prioritise raising awareness on the different programmes they have to people in the far-flung areas of the province. Information sharing and reaching out to every farmer in the province is very critical if we want the sector to grow and create jobs. They need to come closer to people, now more than ever [before].”
More North West agriculture projects are expected to be announced when Desbo Mohono, the MEC for agriculture and rural development, tables her budget vote within the next few weeks.
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