- Minister Thoko Didiza said the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of food security to South Africa.
- Minister Patricia De Lille said the construction industry was severely impacted industries by the downgrade in the economy.
- Government committed R100 billion over 10 years to the Infrastructure Fund to encourage private investors.
- Measures contained in the agriculture and agro-processing master plan are expected to create 317 000 new jobs.
Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza and Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia De Lille said they would leverage their respective portfolios to help government meet two of the strategic goals in South Africa's newest economic recovery plan.
The joint announcement on Thursday comes two weeks after President Cyril Ramaphosa tabled his Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan in Parliament. The plan seeks to guide South Africa on its economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Economic Reconstruction and Recovery focuses on energy infrastructure investment, job creation, local content and energy reform. In a joint briefing with De Lille, Didiza told reporters on Thursday morning that the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of food security to SA.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of both commercial and smallholder producers in safeguarding food security and promoting self-employment in rural and peri-urban areas.
"Covid-19 regulations demonstrated the significance of supportive policy environment as these regulations provided a crucial insulation and boosted the resilience of food system," said Didiza.
Didiza said the pandemic has hastened the urgency for the department to pursue its agriculture and agro-processing masterplan to ensure food security, local production and job creation.
"The range of measures contained in the agriculture and agro-processing master plan will create 317 000 new jobs where majority of these jobs will be created by the private sector players in fruits, nuts, wine, vegetables and agro-processing node of food value chains," Didiza said.
De Lille said the construction industry was among the most severely impacted industries by the downgrade in the economy and Covid-19 with a -14.2% contraction in the construction sector.
"Fifty infrastructure projects were determined ready for investment and implementation. A further 12 special projects, of which 5 had an additional focus of mass employment, were identified in the Plan. All 62 were then gazetted as Strategic Integrated Projects in July 2020," said De Lille.
De Lille said the gazetting in terms of the Infrastructure Development Act, enables projects to be prioritised and fast tracked for implementation with all regulatory processes fast-tracked as processes now run concurrently.
Didiza said the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development initiated a review of the Marketing of Agricultural Products Act and other trade instruments to promote exports and safeguarding domestic production and processing capacity employment stimulus measures.
"The department will ensure the retention of jobs through self- employment by subsistence farmers through input vouchers. The target will be those subsistence producers who are producing at household level in peri-urban and rural areas with a maximum land size between a quarter hectare to one hectare," she said.
De Lille said government committed R100 billion over 10 years to the Infrastructure Fund to encourage private investors to help build capability for infrastructure delivery within the state and to develop blended financing models.
"There were a number of blockages that were causing delays and Infrastructure South Africa together with the recently established Strategic Integrated Projects steering committee has already been able to deal with many of these blockages to get those projects out of the starting blocks," said De Lille.
De Lille said the department would meet with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange as an intermediary and the South African Reserve Bank as the underwriter and identify the Strategic Integrated Projects with a funding gap that would be eligible for green bond funding.
She said the department’s various SIP programs aimed to give job opportunities to unemployed youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with the added benefit of training and skills development.