Agriculture plan to create jobs

Monday, April 23, 2012

Johannesburg - The Gauteng Department of Agriculture has developed a bold plan that will create more jobs for the province's unemployed women and youth.

Agriculture and Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza outlined the Labour Intensity in Agriculture Plan to reporters in Johannesburg on Monday.

"We've developed a plan on labour intensity in agriculture that places the creation of decent work at the heart of the strategic choices and programmes of the province. The labour intensity plan has a vision of creating decent work and an inclusive sustainable economy," she said.

Mayathula-Khoza said the majority of the unemployed people in the province were women and youth. She strongly urged them to take advantage of the opportunity.

The plan will take a multi-faceted approach that includes using existing government programmes to divert labour to commercial farms.

She said this would be done in the form of making interns, learners and Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) employees available for commercial farms which use more labour intensive forms of agriculture such as organic farming.

Mayathula-Khoza said this would include the provision of soft loans, available from developmental financial institutions, to promote the agro-processing sector. These, she said, will have the effect of increasing production to meet the volume requirements of the processing centres, thus creating more jobs.

The implementation of this plan will further see a reduction in the cost of doing business by engaging both Eskom and Transnet to offer competitive rates and rebates to the agro-processing and agro-logistics sectors.

The MEC said the plan would also aim to intensify government programmes which give grants to farmers, but link these directly with plans to create jobs.

The Maize Triangle and Agro-processing has been chosen as one of the strategic projects to ensure labour intensity in agriculture, since the initiative speaks to provincial government priorities such as creation of decent work and stimulating rural development and food security for all.

The Maize Triangle is an area that covers Gauteng, North West, Free State and Mpumalanga provinces, in which there is high maize production. In Gauteng, there are three district municipalities that fall within the Maize Triangle and they are Sedibeng, West Rand and Metsweding.

The MEC said the milling plants in the West Rand, Sedibeng and Tshwane were already supplying yellow maize to Mozambique and they would in future be establishing new markets in other neighbouring countries.