Govt to attract youth into agriculture

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pretoria - Government is committed to find innovative ways to attract more young people into the agricultural sector, says Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Senzeni Zokwana. 

“I want to emphasise that our government is committed to creating employment in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors. 

“Agriculture used to be considered an old man’s job. Today we see more and more young, prominent people taking up this important calling,” he said.

Minister Zokwana was addressing delegates at the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) Gala Dinner in Cape Town on Wednesday. 

When delivering his State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma said: “We have identified agriculture as a key job driver. Our target is for the agricultural sector to create a million jobs by 2030. Government will provide comprehensive support to smallholder farmers by speeding up land reform and providing technical, infrastructural and financial support.”

This is the first time in the 25-year existence of IFAMA that the Symposium and Global Forum is held on the African continent. The theme for the forum is ‘The Talent Factor – People feed the World’. 

Minister Zokwana said the delegates’ focus on the development of a broad range of skills needed to produce food competitively and productively, as well as the focus on skills required to add effective value to primary produce in order to meet the nutritional, food safety and social food needs of the consumer, is appreciated. 

He said the intention to place the economy and agriculture on the centre stage indicates that government is ready to work closer with the private sector to create an enabling investment environment for entrepreneurs and the private sector.

The minister emphasised that effective public–private dialogue and partnerships will be the key in driving the agricultural sector forward. 

He said while the private sector needs government support to address market failures, as well as a host of important public goods such as infrastructure, government needed information about the obstacles and opportunities that the private sector faces in order to design policy interventions to address such constraints. 

“As government, we acknowledge that the acceleration of growth will depend on enabling the public and private sectors to build, explore and renew industrial capacities and to take advantage of complementarities between sectors, emerging value chains, and the upgrading of products, processes and functions,” Minister Zokwana said. 

AU Summit 

The minister also announced that government and the private sector will be participating in the Africa Agribusiness Forum at the Africa Union’s Heads of State Summit this weekend in Equatorial Guinea. 

Africa’s Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme provides a good framework for private sector participation and investment in this sector. 

“I trust that your deliberations and debates will lead to more competitive and efficient value chains in the agro-food system and essentially to greater food security in South Africa and on the African continent.” - SAnews.gov.za 

 

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