Western Cape Agriculture Announces R860 million Budget Allocation for 2014/15
Gerrit van Rensburg, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, today announced his department's budget of R860 million for the 2014/15 financial year. Van Rensburg used the opportunity to reflect over the 2009 to 2014 political term. He said despite difficult conditions, the Western Cape agricultural sector experienced a period of growth and job creation. Van Rensburg congratulated his department for delivering on its strategic targets set in 2009.
Van Rensburg said challenges faced over the past five years included:
- Policy uncertainty regarding land reform.
- Natural disasters in the form of droughts and floods.
- Animal disease affected the red meat, sheep, ostrich and horse industries.
- Labour unrest in 2012/13 damaged relationships within the sector, as well as relationships with international clients.
Van Rensburg said his department set itself the following strategic targets in 2009:
- Increase agricultural production by 10% over a 10-year period.
- Maintain or possibly increase our agricultural export profile.
- Achieve a 60% success rate with all land reform empowerment projects.
- Establish a Rural Development Co-ordination Programme.
- Develop and implement a real-time irrigation monitoring system.
Van Rensburg congratulated his department for delivering on these strategic targets despite the difficult operational conditions during this period. Van Rensburg said provincial production increased from R24.9 billion in 2009 to R30.8 billion in 2012. With inflationary adjustment, this represents growth of 6.6%. The 10% target over 10 years is therefore well on track.
Provincial exports grew from R13.960bn in 2009 to R16.019bn in 2012. This represents growth of more than 15% and is above the initial target. Van Rensburg said a focused drive to promote wine exports to China has been very successful, with exports since 2009 increasing with approximately 32% over the past four years (2009-2012) in terms of total exports, while packaged exports grew by 73%.
Van Rensburg said an independent audit was conducted on land reform empowerment projects in the Western Cape, and it was found that 62% of projects are successful. Van Rensburg said this is in stark contrast with the national success rates of less than 10%.
Van Rensburg said that pressure on water resources motivated the department to develop the FruitLook concept in 2009. This web based irrigation technology is now fully functional and allows irrigation farmers real-time information regarding their water usage, thus assisting them in using water optimally.
Van Rensburg said agriculture in the Western Cape experienced several positive changes during the past five years. These included:
- The Commodity Approach for agricultural land reform and development projects was developed.
- Rural development coordination was established as a Programme at the Department of Agriculture.
- A College Board was established at Elsenburg.
- The Prestige Farm Worker Forum was established.
- A private sector sponsor for the Farm Worker Competition was secured.
- The Elsenburg wine cellar was upgraded, and new wine cultivars, as well as quality brandy, is currently being produced by the students.
- The Western Cape Department of Agriculture received accolades for female empowerment and is described as the best agriculture research department in the country. The Western Cape Department of Agriculture is named as the South African Department with the Best Annual Report for 2011, 2012, and 2013 by the Southern African Institute of Government Auditors (SAIGA).