Western Cape Government and State of California sign historic agriculture MoU
Joint Media Release: Western Cape Government and State of California sign historic Memorandum of Understanding promoting agriculture
Yesterday, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the Californian Department of Food and Agriculture officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote cooperation in agriculture.
The signing was attended by the Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, the Provincial Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, the Secretary for the Californian Department of Food and Agriculture, Karen Ross, and the Acting US Consul General, Will Stevens.
The Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, said: “I am very pleased that we have officially signed this MoU, which will pave the way for sustainable economic growth in both the Western Cape and California’s agricultural sectors. This is truly a historic day and I hope that the agreement will strengthen our bilateral relationship with the State of California and the Federal Government of the United States further.”
“The purpose of the MoU is to establish a flexible framework, promoting the exchange of information on climate-smart approaches to agriculture and best practice within the sector. It also aims to enhance the availability of climate-smart agricultural tech and on-farm practices to improve soil health, water-use efficiency, and modelling to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”, added Premier Winde.
This will be achieved through enhanced cooperation in:
- Improving water-use efficiency, particularly in groundwater modelling and remote sensing;
- Modelling the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector;
- Exchanging information on policies and regulations, and governance models;
- Intergovernmental and international visits including policymakers, academic institutions, and businesses;
- Joint participation in seminars, workshops, and meetings to share practices, educate key stakeholders, and promote partnerships bi-annually; and
- Bringing together public, private, and academic entities, bilaterally or multilaterally, to co-develop new technologies and solutions.
Speaking to the importance of the agreement and the similarities shared with California, the Provincial Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, said: “The MoU aims to bolster food security and address environmental challenges. The Western Cape has an export-driven agricultural sector. The MoU will benefit both the Western Cape and California in becoming more competitive in the evolving national and international marketplace.”
Minister Meyer continued: “Innovation is one of our values. Both regions can learn a lot from each other. The agricultural sector in the Western Cape and California both have Mediterranean climates and share many similarities and challenges related to production, climate, and soils. The MOU provides the platform to find innovative solutions to these challenges.”
The MoU was brought into being following a visit from the Californian State Secretary of Agriculture in August 2019. The delegation, led by Secretary Karen Ross, was an exploratory visit. It focused on creating agreements with regions that have a similar climate.
Speaking to the progress made since, the Secretary of the Californian Department of Food and Agriculture, Karen Ross, said: “California is pleased to join the Western Cape in furthering opportunities for farmers and ranchers in climate-smart agriculture. Our shared commitment to connect farmers, academia and government will help to expand on-farm adaptation of practices that benefit our natural and working lands.”
The signing of the MoU yesterday follows several agreements between the Western Cape Government and various states in the United States. These include:
- An MOU and Protocol to the MOU with California was signed in 2001. The MOU focused on trade and investment, education and culture, agriculture, social services, tourism, and other mutually agreed fields. This agreement is currently dormant and the hope is that the relationship could be reignited by the signing of the MOU on Agriculture yesterday.
- A sister-state agreement with Florida in 1995 focused on trade, education, culture, and tourism.
- An agreement with Georgia in 2014. This cooperation agreement focused on agriculture, tourism, trade and investment opportunities in key sectors including BPO, ICT, Logistics, mega-events, and renewable energy.
The Acting Consul General for the US Consulate, Will Stevens, said: “As the Western Cape’s top foreign direct investor, the United States is a key partner for the province in bolstering economic growth. Building on the successes of our Trade and Investment Promotion Partnership and our Government-to-Government Partnership in Health, this new MOU with the State of California will further expand the strong ties between the U.S. and South African agricultural sectors, increasing our already robust trade and investment. This MOU builds off the successful 2019 delegation visit headed by Karen Ross, the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.”
Going forward, the Western Cape Government and the State of California aim to conduct Climate Smart Agricultural policy missions to each others’ countries. Both governments will contribute to relevant conferences, trade shows and other knowledge-sharing activities in California and the Western Cape.
The Office of Business Planning and Strategy in the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation in the Department of Food and Agriculture at the State of California will further establish an action plan to implement the objectives of this MoU.
To view the signing of the MoU, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/windealan/videos/911501652849959