Giyani - Being born in a rural area or the countryside should not condemn people to a life of poverty and underdevelopment, says President Jacob Zuma.
"Our vision for the development of rural areas arises from the fact that people in the rural areas also have a right to basic necessities.
"They have a right to electricity, water, flush toilets, roads, entertainment and sport centres. They have a right to shopping centres, good schools and other amenities like their compatriots in urban areas," said the President.
He said that people living in rural areas also have the right to be helped with farming so that they can grow vegetables and raise livestock to be able to feed their families. Achieving this is one of government's top priorities.
Speaking at the launch of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) aimed at radically transforming rural areas in Muyexe, Giyani, on Monday, the President said government would not rest for as long as there were rural dwellers who were unable to make a decent living from the land on which they live.
A critical part of the rural development strategy is to stimulate agricultural production with a view to contributing to food security.
Mr Zuma said in order to stimulate agricultural production, government would support the provision of agricultural implements and inputs to support emerging farmers and households nationally as well as make agricultural loans accessible.
The Ilima/Letsema campaign will also be intensified to enhance household food security and government will work to protect valuable agricultural land from encroachment by other developments.
"While we focus on encouraging communities to grow their own food, measures will also be put in place to ensure access by poor households to basic foods at affordable prices; and generally to improve the logistics of food distribution," he said.
Explaining his ideology about "changing the face of rural areas", the President said government had to improve the delivery of services such as education, health, housing, water, sanitation and energy.
"Departments that are responsible for the delivery of these services will develop spatially targeted strategies to respond to the diverse needs of rural areas. Improving rural service delivery will ensure that South Africa meets her development targets for 2014, which are linked to the Millennium Development Goals," he said.
The President further said that resources will be set aside to revive the agricultural training colleges to ensure that they develop and run appropriate training programmes to support rural economies.
Another part of developing rural areas will be the improving roads, because Mr Zuma said it was "painful" to see women carrying groceries walking long distances and school children walking long distances to schools.
He said transport was critical for enhanced socio-economic activity and, broadly, a better quality of life