Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development is committed to working with traditional leaders in the province to develop rural areas.
"It is impossible to achieve any development in the rural areas without the involvement of the traditional leaders. They are the ones who are in constant touch with the rural communities," said provincial MEC Lydia Johnson on Friday.
She said it was imperative that the department worked closely with the traditional leaders to improve the living conditions of people in rural areas.
"In order to ensure that the tasks assigned to me as the MEC are achieved, I will work closely in consultation with the traditional leaders," said Ms Johnson.
The department said it was fully equipped to empower communities with agricultural skills which are essential for sustainable food security.
Last year, the department trained more than 150 traditional leaders in basic agriculture and it has appointed extension officers across the province, whose responsibilities are to ensure that food security is achieved and maintained in order to develop a healthy society.
She said in essence their duty was to provide technical assistance to the community on agriculture for both crop and animal farming.
The MEC told traditional leaders that her doors were always open and they should feel free to contact her so that they could better work together to improve the lives of the people.
"I urge all the traditional leaders to avail themselves and be in direct communication with my office in improving the lives of our people, especially those from the rural areas. Some people in rural areas have not tasted the fruits of our freedom. That has to change for better," said MEC Johnson.
She further added that her department will be taking a firm stance against rural underdevelopment. "We are going to set up structures that will ensure that they introduced and sustain food security programmes so that every household cannot go hungry when there is a land to be cultivated."