Agbiz warns against perpetual introduction of new plans in agriculture instead of sticking to existing ones

Agriculture boasts potential for inclusive growth and job creation, says Agbiz. PIC ROGAN WARD.

Agriculture boasts potential for inclusive growth and job creation, says Agbiz. PIC ROGAN WARD.

Published May 21, 2024


The Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) has warned that the potential for inclusive growth and job creation in South Africa's agriculture sector cannot materialise if there was a continuous introduction of new plans without properly implementing the existing ones and addressing the fundamental issues that constrained the sector.

Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo yesterday said not all these issues fall under the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (Dalrrd), however, the department should use its leadership position in the next administration to push for proper improvement in these areas.

“With just over a week left before South Africans head into the 2024 general elections, discussions in various agricultural gatherings are understandably centred on the theme of elections and possible outcomes,” Sihlobo said.

“However, the policy direction and commitment to implementation will be far more critical for agriculture. A rough scan of various political parties’ manifestos shows that agricultural matters are well-featured, with varying views on land reform.

“Also evident this time is an appreciation of what the sector could continue to contribute to the rural economy, job creation and the national food security.”

Sihlobo said Agbiz remained convinced that new policies should not be introduced when the new administration comes into office next month.

“The focus should be on implementing and updating the existing programmes where necessary. As we argued recently, the starting point should be the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan (AAMP), as it has the buy-in of most agricultural stakeholders and strives to grow a competitive and inclusive sector,” he said.

“The AAMP’s growth narrative is through focused value chain deep dives and commodity corridors. The department should, in the new administration, reignite the AAMP through clear communication of the expectations to the various provincial departments and local offices that private sector stakeholders will essentially work within the implementation of the plan.”

Sihlobo said the implementation of the AAMP has so far been slow because of various factors that have taken the government and stakeholders’ attention away from the primary focus these past two years, such as load shedding, port issues and animal diseases.

He said organisations may have started some projects on their own during this time.

“Thus, there is a need for a formulation of a team that can take stock of the objectives of the AAMP and what work or projects various stakeholders have done that could be accounted for as part of the AAMP or aligned with its goals. This would be important for reigniting the energy and focus of the social partners.”

Beyond that exercise, the agribusinesses organisation said it believed there were 10 key areas the new administration should drive in addition to the AAMP aspects.

It said there was already work under way in some of these areas, and what would be essential was the continuous push for results.

These included land reform, animal health, agricultural product standards, Registrar for Act 36, agricultural exports, ports and rail, roads and municipalities, rural crime, water and statistical data.