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Job creation in agricultural sector welcomed, but policy uncertainty over land and drought crisis. South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address does indeed have potential. Now the president must live up to the promises he made and step up to the plate. There is also great appreciation for the need expressed by the President to bring about cooperation in bringing about positive change in our country.

"The President's commitment to reverse the country's slow economic growth is positive and will also benefit agriculture as a whole," says Christo van der Rheede, Agri SA's deputy executive director. “Agri SA sincerely hopes that the president and his various ministries and departments will join the act in the coming year. "This state of affairs must be seen against the backdrop of large-scale corruption, slow economic growth, the dismantling of institutions and the dire state of state-owned companies such as Eskom and SAA."

We agree with President Ramaphosa that the agricultural industry has great potential for growth. It is a pity, however, that the President did not pay more attention to the agricultural sector in his State of the Nation Address. He highlighted several plans but did not provide enough details regarding its practical feasibility”, says Omri van Zyl, Agri SA's executive director.

It is unsettling that President Ramaphosa has also not disclosed further details of drought relief and practical solutions for the ongoing drought, which is still forcing farmers on their knees. He also made no mention of the increasing violent crime in rural areas and cross-border crime”, says van Zyl. “Farmers are under pressure due to policy uncertainty and the effect of expropriation without compensation, crime and the drought. The President must provide sufficient support to the agricultural sector to ensure sustainability and food security.”

Agri SA is also very concerned about the negative impact that load shedding has on the primary agricultural sector, the food value chain and the South African economy. Load shedding has an impact on irrigation-dependent and energy-intensive industries such as horticulture, dairy, poultry and agro-processing. Irrigation, scheduling of irrigation, fertilizer application as well as the processing and shipping thereof, are all adversely affected by unplanned power cuts.

It is encouraging, however, that the President is going to accelerate the process of granting water licenses and that he also committed himself to creating employment within the agricultural sector.

“The rebuilding and recovery of the economy must now be on the forefront. We must have policy certainty in order to attract investors to the agricultural sector and South Africa as a whole”, van der Rheede concludes.

Agri SA is committed to agricultural development and reform and will continue to strive for a sustainable agricultural sector. Agri SA once again calls on the President to provide policy certainty on troubling issues, including expropriation without compensation and drought assistance.


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