In a bid to cement support for new farmers in the province, the Western Cape department of agriculture and representatives of commodity groups met last week to sign new three-year agreements.
According to the department, each newly signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) sets the platform for a commodity organisation to continue to support up-and-coming farmers with advice, mentorship, training, inputs, market access and mutual in-kind contributions.
Agreements were signed with the National Woolgrowers Association, Deciduous Fruit Producers Trust, Vinpro, the South African Table Grape Industry, South African Poultry Association, Potatoes SA, Raisins SA and Grain SA. Agreements were also set to be signed with the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa, South African Pork Producers’ Organisation, Red Meat Producers Organisation and Berries SA.
Commenting on the signing of the MOUs, Western Cape minister of agriculture Ivan Meyer says that the department recognises strategic partnerships as the key to addressing the agricultural sector’s complex challenges.
“The department has developed strategic partnerships over several years. These partnerships complement our work and enhance the impact of our service delivery initiatives.”
According to head of department Dr Mogale Sebopetsa, the commodity approach allows the provincial government to augment its resources and support to farmers by leveraging existing industry expertise and financial resources.
Acknowledging the value of the commodity approach in advancing transformation, Mariette Kotzé, group operations manager for Hortgro, says that the impact of their partnership, first formed in 2011, has been immeasurable. “It is about making a difference out there [and] creating an enabling environment for our growers.”
Production forecasts ‘good news for W. Cape’
Meyer has also welcomed the deciduous fruit organisation Hortgro’s latest fruit export projections. The organisation expects apple exports to increase by 6%, pear exports by 12% and nectarine exports by 26% compared to the previous season. Overall, peach exports are projected to show positive growth of 2%.
The Ceres and Berg River regions stood out with 7% and 10% growth, respectively.
Wheat production estimates from Grain SA project an increase of 4% in the province, to 41 900 tonnes for 2021-2022 compared to the previous season. This is mainly thanks to good rainfall and increased planting of 34 000 hectares, or 10%.
“This is good news,” says Meyer. “The Western Cape agricultural sector is export-orientated and contributes 53% to national agricultural exports. In 2020, the Western Cape exported R78.68 billion worth of combined agricultural and agri-processing products.
“Eight of the ten biggest export products from the Western Cape have an agricultural foundation. So agriculture is pushing forward.”
Plant poachers convicted and sentenced
Meanwhile, Northern Cape agriculture, environmental affairs, rural development and land reform MEC Mase Manopole welcomes the conviction of four poachers who had been arrested for stealing endangered and protected halfmens trees in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
The perpetrators were arrested in 2020 by a multi-sectoral team that included members of SANParks’ ranger corps, its botanical team, the department and the police while they were trying to steal 14 Pachypodium namaquanum plants, also known as halfmens or elephant’s trunk.
The four perpetrators were convicted last week and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. The removal and damage of the 14 plants, which could not be rehabilitated, is said to be one of the worst cases in the history of the park due to the cultural, tourism and natural value of the plants. This species is conserved nowhere else, and the removal of so many of the extremely slow-growing plant has had a negative effect on its local population.
Manopole warns that all plants in the Northern Cape are protected and may not be removed, transported or possessed without a permit.
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