Mpumalanga working with private sector to grow economy

Friday, February 24, 2017

Pretoria – The Mpumalanga Provincial Governemnt is working closely with SAPPI on the development of the Ngodwana Project, which will contribute R13 billion to Mpumalanga’s economy over 20 years, says Premier David Mabuza.

Delivering his State of the Province Address on Friday, he said the partnership will create 300 jobs during construction and a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) procurement spend of about R620 million.

“Of this total, R51 million will be spent on Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs), thereby creating much needed jobs,” he said.

As the country faces challenging economic conditions, Premier Mabuza called upon the private sector to invest in the economy and work with government.

Youth programme for agriculture

Premier Mabuza said the Fortune 40 young incubator programme is making progress by promoting the participation of youth in the agriculture sector.

“In its fullness, this programme will see the empowerment of 20 youth owned SMMEs and 20 youth owned cooperatives fully integrated into the agricultural sector.

“We must make agriculture attractive to young people not only as a means of employment but as a business,” he said.

So far, the province has secured 15 farms as part of the programme, with eight of these being provided with required infrastructure, including tractors to enable the farms to start with production.

“Seven of these farms are in production and are already selling to the market. Our focus for the year in this programme is the provision of inputs and the development of infrastructure in these farms including irrigation, broilers, mechanization, pack-houses and fencing to the tune of R81.917 million,” Premier Mabuza said.

Each farm was allocated a full-time extension advisor to oversee and mentor these young people throughout the production cycle.

“We are also subjecting these young people to technical agricultural and farming business management skills. We will have interactions and enter into agreements with Amakhosi (chiefs) as part of supporting agricultural activity on communal land and this process will identify land that is underutilised to bring it into full production,” he said.

The province will also continue to upgrade the Nooitgedacht Research Farm to build its research capabilities in order to support farmers across a range of farming activities with sound research.

“We have already procured a state of the art soil testing machine for the soil testing laboratory.

“This will ensure that farming is carried out with scientific rationale and rigor and that all farms we are servicing with inputs, are mapped with up to date soil information,” Premier Mabuza said. – SAnews.gov.za

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