Rural development a priority for govt

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cape Town - Expanding employment opportunities beyond urban areas is among the key priorities of government, says Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor.

"Our priority is still on the expansion of employment opportunities beyond urban areas by fully exploiting comparative advantages of rural areas," the minister said on Tuesday during the Economic Sectors and Employment cluster Programme of Action (PoA) media briefing.

This is the first report on progress of the implementation of the PoA under the newly reconfigured economic cluster.

Pandor said government's rural development strategy included increasing agricultural activities and support, developing light manufacturing industries to increase value-add by rural economies and promoting tourism related activities that will utilise indigenous cultural activities and knowledge.

The development of a Comprehensive Strategy on Rural Development (CRDP) was anchored on a three-pronged strategy, said Pandor.

The three-pronged approach incorporates agrarian transformation by increasing all types pf agricultural production; rural development by improving economic rural infrastructure and land reform by restitution, redistribution, land tenure and post-settlement.

The strategy was launched in Muyexe, Limpopo on 17 August 2009 and is now being piloted in all provinces. This was already contributing to the creation of work in rural areas, said the minister.

She said that the rural development strategy would be undertaken in phases.

"The first phase focuses on breaking the back of hunger at household level to meet basic human needs; the second is the entrepreneurial development stage, characterised by relatively larger-scale infrastructure development and whilst the third phase is characterised by the emergence of small, micro and medium enterprises and village markets," said Pandor.

The minister added that the cluster would strengthen efforts directed at meeting its milestones while also being realistic about the challenges imposed by the ongoing global economic crisis.