Plans to grow Western Cape agriculture by 10% in 10 years

This was announced at the first Triennial Western Cape Agriculture Summit hosted by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture in Stellenbosch recently. Stakeholders in the private and public sectors had the opportunity to discuss identified interventions and prioritised action plans for the future sustainability and profitability of the agriculture sector in the Western Cape.

In her opening address, Western Cape premier, Helen Zille, said that the provincial government wanted to support 10% agricultural growth in the next decade and help farmers and agribusinesses maintain their global export market position.
Zille said the Western Cape government wanted to create an enabling environment so that agricultural business could thrive in rural areas.

Government also wanted to ensure that at least 60% of land reform projects in the province were sustainable. The 60% land reform success rate, she said, would be achieved by encouraging partnerships between farmers and farm workers. “Our first priority in the Western Cape is economic growth and job creation and agriculture has an enormously important role to play in that,” said Zille.

She also highlighted the importance of forming partnerships with other sub-Saharan African countries, pointing out that 60% of the world’s under-utilised or undeveloped agricultural land was to be found in sub-Saharan Africa. “We must see it as an opportunity for our local agricultural sector, rather than a threat, that so many South African farmers are opting to establish themselves or to grow their businesses by expanding into Africa.

“But farmers shouldn’t relocate to other African countries because they feel they are being driven out of South Africa. They must do so because they see it as an opportunity to expand,” said Zille. The Western Cape MEC for Agriculture, Gerrit van Rensburg, told Farmer’s Weekly that agricultural development in the province would probably involve the intensive farming industries such as fruit and vegetables, but it was also very important that agricultural processing increased.

“The agricultural sector must also start investing more in processing,” said Van Rensburg. The head of the provincial agriculture department, Joyene Isaacs, said that other industries earmarked for expansion in the Western Cape were the wine, olive, persimmon, pomegranate, rooibos and honeybush tea industries.