The Gauteng Agriculture and Rural Development Department have allocated around R1.06-billion to build agro-processing and an agricultural ecosystem to help revitalise South Africa’s economic hub. Economic Development MEC Parks Tau believes this will contribute to transforming the province into an agro-processing mecca.
He said during his 2021/2022 budget speech, that the department would support catalytic programmes identified in the Growing Gauteng Together 2030 strategy. These included supporting industrial cannabis centres, as well as cooperatives and small-scale farmers. It was essential to strengthen the individual, sector and institutional partnerships to build an ecosystem that empowered food-insecure communities to grow and process food locally at a cheaper price, the MEC said.
“The ecosystem we are building (is) in partnership with the Agricultural Development Agency (AGDA) – a cluster of agri-business interests that has been set up to partner with the government through the Public-Private Growth Initiative,” he said.
“Our partnership with AGDA will focus on building the full value-chain spectrum across the N12 corridor in the West Rand, linking smallholder production through agri-logistics networks and agri-hubs, into new agro-processing scale initiatives such as the Bokamoso Ba Rona partnership with Sibanye Stillwater.
“This will directly support the execution of our annual performance plan commitment on the commercialisation of 50 Gauteng smallholder farmers and 20 agro-processors, under the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Grant and llima/Letsema Support Grant,” Tau said.
Tau also announced that the AGDA partnership, which would focus on peri-urban and rural communities on the West Rand, would be complemented by the Urban Agriculture Programme.
Ten urban farms would be established in the 2021/22 financial year through the programme to address urban food security challenges and stimulate an urban economy centred on the agri-food value chain. He said some initiatives were already paying off. They included eight moveable poultry and two mobile red meat abattoirs.
“One of the poultry mobile abattoirs situated in Evaton near Sebokeng is already operating fully and it has created 25 job opportunities. “The department procured and delivered 16 additional refrigerated trucks to agribusinesses as part of the agro-logistics programme to ensure the movement of agricultural produce from farm level to market,” the MEC said.
The department had also equipped the Isigayo Milling Plant cooperative in Randfontein on the West Rand with two batches comprising 100 tons of maize, and it was on course to stabilise the cooperative’s working capital by giving it a further 300 tons of maize.
“Building a genuine agro-processing ecosystem with an export focus here in Gauteng can allow us to meaningfully contribute towards the National Development Plan target of 646,000 additional direct jobs and 326,000 additional indirect jobs in agriculture, food-processing and related sectors by 2030,” Tau said during his budget speech.