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SONA 2019 - What's In Store For Agriculture

26 June 2019
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The elections have come and gone; this means a new administration is now at the helm of the country. Last week Cape Town was buzzing with delegates and politicians from different political parties and organs of state as they were getting ready to attend the SONA. With 2019 being an election year this meant that this would be the second SONA for the year, and ultimately translating to a new mandate from the President of the republic.

2019 has been a challenging year for the country with the decline of economic growth and many job losses in different sectors of the economy. All this requires the government to be able to create a robust plan to revive critical areas in the economy, and agriculture is one of those sectors. 

It goes without a saying that the agriculture industry is pivotal to the economic growth of the country, as it also plays a vital role in the soaring unemployment rate, especially amongst the youth. It is because of these two key issues that President Ramaphosa has allocated R3,9 billion to the Land Bank to support black farmers, as he further emphasised agriculture as a foundation of our economy that offers growth potential for the economy and employment in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of the 6th Parliament.

These are words he had echoed at the SONA in February of this year, where he said that the potential of agriculture in South Africa for job creation and economic growth remains largely underdeveloped.

During last week's speech, the President emphasised how agriculture is one of the productive sectors of the economy and as a foundation of the economy that needs to be rebuilt to make SA's growth targets in terms of the National Development Plan.

Agriculture has on numerous occasions been mentioned as one of the sectors that will be earmarked for development attention, along with mining, the automotive industry, and other industries like textiles, gas, chemicals and plastics.

"We are going to substantially expand the agriculture and agro-processing sector by supporting key value chains and products, developing new markets and reducing our reliance on agricultural imports."

Towards the tail end of his speech, while setting out his vision for the country's future, he also said: "We must be a country that can feed itself and that harnesses the latest advances in smart agriculture." 

GREAT NEWS FOR EMERGING AGRICULTURE ENTREPRENEURS 

The President made special mention of what needs to be done for emerging entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector, and these are indeed great news for the industry.

"Through spatial interventions like special economic zones, reviving local industrial parks, business centres, digital hubs and township and village enterprises, we will bring economic development to local areas. We will also focus on small, medium enterprises in our cities, townships and rural areas and create market places where they trade their products."

YOUTH EMPLOYMENT

Agriculture is noted as one of the industries where "jobs demand" is increasing and that will see the development of programmes that will ensure that the economically sidelined youth are prepared for employment. 

"These sectors include global business processing services, agricultural value chains, technical installation, repair and maintenance and new opportunities provided through the digital economy and the fourth industrial revolution."

The President continued to emphasise the implementation of a robust plan to empower the youth.

"It is therefore essential that we proceed without delay to implement a comprehensive plan – driven and coordinated from the Presidency – to create no fewer than two million new jobs for young people within the next decade."

"This plan will work across government departments and all three tiers of government, in partnership with the private sector."

FIVE DEVELOPMENT GOALS, SEVEN PRIORITIES

The President has committed his administration on focussing on seven priorities during the next decade, in an attempt to meet the NDP's 2030 targets. The priorities are:

  • Economic transformation and job creation
  • Education, skills and health
  • Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality essential services
  • Spatial integration, human settlements and local government
  • Social cohesion and safe communities
  • A capable, ethical and developmental state
  • A better Africa and World

"To ensure that our efforts are directed, I am suggesting that, within the priorities of this administration, we agree on five fundamental goals for the next decade.

  • No person in South Africa will go hungry.
  • Our economy will grow at a much faster rate than our population.
  • Two million more young people will be in employment.
  • Our schools will have better educational outcomes, and every ten-year-old will be able to read for meaning.
  • Violent crime will be halved."

CLIMATE-CHANGE

The threat posed by climate change has also been recognised by the President.

"Guided by the NDP, it is our responsibility to pursue inclusive, sustainable development that is resilient in the face of climate change.

"Working in partnership with the private sector, labour and the international community, we will step up our adaptation and mitigation efforts.

"We have the opportunity to be at the forefront of green growth, of low-carbon industrialisation, of pioneering new technologies and of taking quantum leaps towards the economy of the future.

"We must increase the contribution of renewable and clean energy to our national energy mix and explore the potential of the hydrogen economy."

Much work needs to be done to develop South Africa, and it is refreshing to see that the government is at the forefront of this. Share your thoughts with us, we’d love to hear from you.


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