Western Cape Agriculture and Rural Development Budget 2013
Gerrit van Rensburg, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural development yesterday announced the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s budget of R610 million for the 2013/14 financial year.
Van Rensburg said this budget announcement comes shortly after the Western Cape experienced violent protest actions in the agricultural sector during the previous summer. He described the situation as one of “high hopes and high levels of frustration” Van Rensburg said it is the duty of government to find solutions to the underlying problems in order to create a space where all citizens can be positive out their future.
Van Rensburg said that no amount of political gain can be justified by the death of even one person or the random destruction of property.
Van Rensburg praised producers and workers in the Western Cape agricultural sector, saying their stature is reaffirmed as the best in the country each year the SA Farmer of the Year is from the Province, and each year with the announcement of the Western Cape Farm Worker of the Year.
Van Rensburg thanked the personnel at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture for their dedication over the last few years. “This Department has performed very well over the past 4 years. It has been crowned as the South African Department with the best Annual Report for two consecutive years. It has been acknowledged as the Best Research Department in South Africa. It has been acknowledged as the Most Female Empowered Department in South Africa”
Van Rensburg said that the Western Cape is prioritising water management, as it is a crucial resource for agricultural sustainability. He said 35 km of the Berg River has been cleared of alien vegetation, and another 10 km will be rehabilitated this financial year. Clearing the entire 260 km flow course of the Berg River from alien vegetation and re-establishing stabilising indigenous vegetation will make water available for an additional 1 500 hectares of irrigation.
Van Rensburg congratulated the Landcare team for receiving three medals: two gold medals for conservation work done at Suurbraak and Genadendal, and a bronze medal for the mentorship role played by Dirk van Papendorp in the Suurbraak empowerment initiative.
Van Rensburg said his Department remains committed to successful land reform an empowerment in the agricultural sector. A total of 60 new projects, worth R135 million, will be initiated and funded through our conditional grant allocation in this financial year.
“We have since 2009 supported a total of 252 projects through our commodity approach to the value of R410 million. This has covered all 10 commodities currently involved across the entire province. In addition, through our ‘Boompie’ project a total of 438 ha have been planted in collaboration with HORTGRO”.
Van Rensburg thanked producers who initiated equity share schemes. He said South African history will reflect on these schemes as the most successful and sustainable empowerment projects during the first 20 years of democracy in South Africa.
Referring to research and technology, Van Rensburg announced that a biogas plant will be inaugurated in 2013 at the Outeniqua research farm, where manure will be converted into biogas and electricity.
Van Rensburg said tough global economic conditions makes the establishment of new export markets of critical importance. “Through our Market Access Programme, we have since 2009 been able to support 91 companies in overseas marketing visits and exhibitions”.
Van Rensburg said his Department will support the fruit and wine industries ethical initiatives with R2 million in this budget. He thanked the Robertson Winery for its example of registering all 43 primary grape suppliers with Wieta, the wine industry’s ethical seal.
Van Rensburg said there is a need for specialised training on modern agricultural machinery. He said his Department will in conjunction with the private sector facilitate in this need.
Van Rensburg recommitted the Western Cape Government to rural development. “We are making good progress. I can today report that a total of 11 rural nodes have been established since 2009. We have coordinated the listing of 229 development projects worth R305.6 million until 2014. This has resulted in 1 660 temporary employment opportunities and 3 285 people received training in the process”.