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Dept aims to create more jobs

MEC for Agriculture, Norman Shushu

THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development aims to create 4 457 job opportunities in the agricultural industry in the Province during the 2017/18 financial year.

During his budget speech yesterday, the MEC for Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Norman Shushu, said that the Province employed 16 percent of the population in the agricultural sector, compared to 5.5 percent nationally.

He said that the creation of employment would significantly reduce poverty and joblessness in the Province, amid the tough economic conditions and rising food prices.

“Food price inflation was at 11.8 percent on an annual basis by November 2016. It contributed significantly to the overall higher consumer price inflation as the food basket contributes 14.2 percent to the overall consumer basket.”

Shushu added that a shortage of grain led to increases in the price of staple foods such as bread and cereal, while grain produce had to be imported.

He said that households were encouraged to grow their own food.

“According to the Household Survey 2016, 19.5 percent of households in the Province attempted to create an additional source of income through agriculture, whereas the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale established that 31.3 percent of households in the Province had inadequate or severely inadequate access to food in 2015. Our quest to assist households in distress will be escalated in the 2017/18 financial year.”

Shushu stated that the recent good rains would assist in normalising the production of field and horticultural crops, where commodity prices would “most probably” come down.

“However, restocking of the livestock sector will lead to lower animal slaughtering and might lead to continued moderate to high increases in meat prices.”

He stated that there had been a significant expansion of pecan nut farming along the Vaalharts irrigation scheme and Douglas, where 16 000 hectares were being cultivated.

“A number of new plantings have been established along the Lower Orange area especially along the Boegoeberg canal system. Citrus production in the Northern Cape has a competitive advantage in the areas we declared free from the black spot fungal diseases, which is a quarantine risk for the export of citrus fruit.”

Shushu said that the fodder bank had assisted farmers through the drought relief initiative, with 18 000 kilograms of lucerne in the Namakwa district, while 32 000 kilograms of maize and 10 000 kilograms of lucerne were donated to farmers in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district.

“Another 3 000 kilograms of maize and 1 000 kilograms of lucerne were donated to farmers in Ganspan as part of drought mitigation by November 2016. Farms in the Roggeveld region of the Northern Cape, which were severely affected by veld fires over New Year, received 48 000 kilograms lucerne in January. Another 100 000 kilograms of lucerne was donated to farmers in the drought-stricken area of Calvinia.”

He indicated that the fodder bank was expected to be in full production by September.

Shushu listed a number of mega-projects that were on the cards including the Namakwa Irrigation Development (centred on Onseepkans), the rooibos development extract/aroma project, the Vaalharts revitalisation scheme as well as the establishment of black pecan nut farmers in the Vaalharts region

“The Province is finalising the permits and licences for trout production at Vanderkloof Fisheries and Trout farming. It is estimated that the Vanderkloof dam alone can produce 11 500 tons of trout.”

He stated that Beefmaster abattoir was one of the three abattoirs in the country to export frozen beef to China.

“We took decisive action during 2016 against organised illegal donkey slaughtering operations in the Namakwa and John Taolo Gaetsewe districts. Collective blitz operations by the South African Police Service’s Stock Theft unit, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) and Veterinary Services led to successful prosecution of the offenders.”

Shushu indicated that the Northern Cape Provincial Veterinary Laboratory had been recommended for accreditation of diagnostic test methods for Rose Bengal screening for bovine brucellosis, complement fixation confirmation test for bovine brucellosis, microscopic detection of sheep scab method, molecular detection of anthrax and combined molecular detection of campylobacterium foetus and trichomonus foetus pending the clearance of 10 nonconformances by June 2017.

He stated that the purchase of the Temo-Thuo building for office accommodation, which was previously owned by the Trifecta group of companies, had been concluded.

“The total area space is about 16 5000 square metres and we are currently using half of that space for office accommodation and parking. This presents an opportunity to further develop additional office accommodation to house all personnel. This development will significantly reduce the amount of money used for leases and such additional resources can be used for service delivery interventions.”

Administration: R115 million

Sustainable resource management: R35 million

Land Care: R7 million

Land acquisition: R88 million

Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP): R121 million

Ilima/Letsema conditional grants funds: R58 million

Farmer support and district co-ordination: R331 million

Vineyards Development Scheme: R10 billion

Veterinary Services: R49 million

Research and technology development services: R51 million.

Agricultural economics: R11 million

Rural development: R14 million

One household one hectare programme for 555 households: R58.6 million

Agri-Parks: R33.9 million

Farmer production support unit: R12.2 million

Agri-hub in the Frances Baard district: R5.3 million

Rural Enterprise and Industrial Development: R32.3 million