Western Cape Agriculture Launches R3 Million Research Fund
In a South African first, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture has launched a R3 million dedicated research fund to boost exports and bolster land reform around the province’s alternative crops.
Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, said the Western Cape Government would partner with the fruit industry to explore smaller industries with projected high returns for job creation and growth.
The fund was launched at the Elsenburg, the headquarters of the Department of Agriculture this morning.
Alternative, smaller crops include berries, fynbos, honeybush and pomegranates. These crops have high market value and are export-orientated.
R3 million is the allocation for this financial year.
Minister Winde said the fund would pioneer funding models between the Western Cape Government and the industry.
A steering committee including the Department of Agriculture and Hortgro, the industry body representing the horticultural sector, will select the projects.
“This fund is a great example of ‘Better Together’. I believe that through partnerships we can grow our smaller industries. This is the kick start that many farmers will need. In addition, to remain competitive our agricultural industry needs to embrace innovation. I am looking forward to the new products which will be developed in conjunction with the industry. In this way, we will be well placed to grow exports”, said Minister Winde.
Minister Winde added that the fund would reinforce the Western Cape’s positioning as the gateway to Africa.
“We are expanding our knowledge and capability. It’s a benefit for our economy and for Africa. We could see this fund attracting more foreign students to conduct research here. The world is looking at this continent very differently and this fund is going to play a role in drawing people here”, said Minister Winde.
Land reform was another focus area of the fund.
“Land reform, nationally, is one of this country’s biggest risks. We are starting to fix those problems. This fund is looking at new possibilities of economic involvement for more residents,” said Minister Winde.
Criteria for the fund includes:
- It has to contribute to food security and towards realising the objectives of APAP (Agricultural Policy Action Plan);
- The project must have the potential to create and sustain jobs.
- The project must have the potential to become economically viable and sustainable; and must be quantified in terms of industry benchmarks/ norms/ assumptions within a detailed business plan/proposal.
- The project must lead to increased services and infrastructure.
- The project must lead to increased exports.
- The project must be Western Cape based and address the priorities of the province’s agricultural sector.
- The project must increase growth in production and business opportunities.
For more information on the fund contact Dr Ilse Trautmann on 021 808 5012 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org