The Western Cape Department of Agriculture again lived up to the motto of the Western Cape Government – that of “Better Together” by forming another successful partnership, this time to ensure the implementation and monitoring of ethical initiatives in agriculture.
It demonstrated its commitment to collaborating with various industry stakeholders with the handover of a symbolic cheque for R1 million to Hortgro, at a function held at the department’s head office in Elsenburg on Thursday, 24 October 2013.
The money will be used to assist with the implementation of the Sustainability Initiative of South Africa (SIZA) programme in the Western Cape.
In his keynote address, The Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Minister Gerrit van Rensburg, explained the critical importance of this partnership.
“More or less a year ago our agricultural sector received a rude wake-up call when violent protest actions rolled across our province. This caused damage on many levels – including to international relationships, which in turn affects market access. A 12-point action plan was launched to address the challenges identified in the agricultural sector - including support to ethical initiatives."
He stressed that solving the challenges in the sector cannot be done in isolation.
“Government, and here I refer to all three spheres; have to partner with the agricultural sector in order to make a difference.”
Funding from the department will be used mainly to support the SIZA Capacity-building programme, established in November 2008, with the implementation of Ethical Trade Facilitator training programmes throughout the Western Cape.
In her speech, Colleen Chennells, who is the co-ordinator of the programme, explained more about SIZA.
“SIZA means to ‘help/support’ in Zulu. The programme includes two core processes: monitoring of compliance and best practice on farms conducted by independent audit bodies. Secondly it entails a capacity-building programme to support growers and workers with implementation of ethical standard requirements.
The SIZA programme is widely recognised by international and domestic trade stakeholders. Since January 2013 when registration opened, over 500 producers, packers, and exporters have joined the programme of which approximately 250 are from the Western Cape. It is open to all agri-sectors."