Not everyone is satisfied just yet, but SA's first agriculture master plan has been signed

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  • South Africa's first master plan for agriculture has been signed.
  • Minister Thoko Didiza noted that not all stakeholders are completely satisfied with the plan.
  • The plan seeks to address food security, drive localisation, limit imports and transform the sector.

A new master plan for South Africa's agriculture and agro-processing sectors aims to drive transformation in the sector, but not all stakeholders are satisfied.

The Agriculture and Agro-Processing Master Plan was signed on Thursday, ahead of Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza's budget vote in Parliament.

The process to develop the plan was launched in June 2020, Didiza said. It involved stakeholder negotiations focused on creating policy certainty for an investor-friendly environment, improving food security, providing farmer support, investing and maintaining critical infrastructure, reducing imports and improving localised food production, and supporting market expansion and promoting trade.

The resulting plan is a social compact geared at creating a globally competitive sector which is inclusive.

Didiza noted that developing the plan was not easy, given the various interests of the different stakeholders.

"Each constituency would like to make sure that its position and interest, including the wording of proposals, are reflected in the document … Even in this process, negotiations have resulted in a minimum programme which is not satisfactory to all parties," said Didiza.

The minister said that matters still require further engagement among parties.

"We want a process that is inclusive and, therefore, we have to endeavour to find one another … This document we have in front of us today is a living document and as such we must accept that time and again changing conditions will demand of us to be responsive," said Didiza.

Social protection of farm workers was a particular sticking point. "I am aware that certain constituencies still want to persuade one another on those matters that they feel strong about, particularly the issue of social protection of farm workers," said Didiza.

Following the signing, there will be a process to unpack the delivery of some of the measures, such as transformation schemes to be pursued through public-private partnerships and labour forums to address conditions of labour. Other outstanding matters to be addressed relate to infrastructure, financing, other labour issues and specific aspects of transformation.

The "unfulfilled concerns" of social partners will be considered during the next round of negotiations focused on implementation and bolstering transformation aspects, the department noted in a statement.

The government is committed to creating enabling legislation and policies and supporting inclusive agricultural growth, the minister said.

READ | One in five SA farmers plans to leave the sector in the next 10 years - study

Stakeholders have agreed on several measures. This includes enhancing state capacity and efficiency and strengthening partnerships with the private sector to address sector-specific issues such as farmer support programmes, agricultural research and development and technology adoption and market access.

The master plan also indicates that R9.4 billion be raised for maintaining and expanding infrastructure. It also agrees that R7 billion in agricultural financing be targeted at supporting farmers and small businesses.

The measures could achieve R32 billion growth in value added from the agriculture sector, maintaining over a million jobs in the space while creating 75 000 decent new jobs, enhancing food security, and expanding commercial production.

It will also increase the share of black farmers in production to 20% by 2030.

The minister tabled a budget of R17.3 billion - with the bulk of the budget going towards transfers to provinces and agricultural entities. Another portion goes toward the commercialisation of black farmers through Land Development Support.

So far, farmers in grain, livestock and oil seeds have come from this programme.

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