If we want to keep the agricultural sector competitive and see growth in rural economies, we need to protect our vital rural road infrastructure. This is according to the Western Cape government’s senior agricultural economist, Tshepo Morokong.
The condition of rural roads has been a focal point for the Western Cape department of agriculture recently.
According to research by Morokong, the reduction of trade barriers and improvement in the flow of supply chains is linked to improvements in quality road infrastructure.
This is because unsealed roads and a lack of maintenance and expansion of existing roads often impede the transportation of people and goods across different regions.
According to Morokong, road infrastructure is one of the key factors influencing food availability. And the potential contribution of road infrastructure to the economy of the Cape Winelands district in particular is massive, especially for agricultural exports from this district.
“Roads create an enabling environment for increased connectivity between different regions facilitating trade and technology transfer, which are essential for agricultural and economic growth,” he says.
Poor roads drive up expenses for farmers
Western Cape minister of agriculture Dr Ivan Meyer agrees that road infrastructure investment, particularly investment in rural road infrastructure, will boost the province’s growing agricultural sector.
“Good road infrastructure is vital for the competitiveness of the agricultural sector and the growth of rural economies,” Meyer says.
In a recent article published by Food For Mzansi, the agricultural minister pointed out that he believes investment in road infrastructure improves the conditions under which horticultural products are transported as well as the connectivity between the agritourism opportunities offered in rural areas in the region.
Given the fact that horticulture is a major farming activity in the Cape Winelands, good road infrastructure is important, Morokong explains.
He says there is continued investment in the district to keep up with the increasing agricultural export growth.
Morokong’s research also points to there being major expenses on various inputs used by the sector. These include salaries and wages, animal feed, packaging material and others.
“However, in line with the use of road infrastructure, it can be noted that the expenses related to transport and fuel are among the top ten,” Morokong says.
Sign up for Mzansi Today: Your daily take on the news and happenings from the agriculture value chain.