JOHANNESBURG - The Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa's commitment to boosting economic growth, but said companies in the sector were concerned by a lack of clarity regarding land reform policy.
In a statement, Agbiz said it was refreshing to hear Ramaphosa -- in his address to parliament on Thursday on the state of the nation -- place South Africa's economic growth at the forefront of the sixth administration's agenda.
"The focus must now be on the how, so providing detailed content to the broad policy direction and implementation will be key," it said. "Agbiz will continue to engage with various ministries and SOEs (state-owned enterprises) over the coming months."
Ramaphosa's speech was his first major opportunity to outline policy after his African National Congress, in power since the advent of democracy in 1994, won a fresh mandate to govern in May 8 national elections, albeit with less support than it garnered in the previous vote in 2014.
Ramaphosa noted that the day marked 106 years after the Natives Land Act, which was aimed at regulating the acquisition of land, came into force. He called the law "one of the most devastating acts of dispossession, pain and humiliation" and said its effects were still present.
"We note the progress made regarding the report of the presidential advisory panel on agriculture and land reform and look forward to engaging with its content and focus once it is made public," Agribiz said.
"We will continue to engage with government in various fora on crafting a sustainable solution to land reform in South Africa that is based on the principle of public-private and community partnerships as envisioned in chapter six of the National Development Plan (NDP)."
Agribiz said it has long supported and argued for the implementation of chapter six of the NDP as it was the roadmap to inclusive growth in the sector, saying the agricultural value chain played a crucial role in the growth and stability of rural economies.
"For the agricultural sector to thrive, South Africa not only needs to boost production, but also increase access to the export market, and we were pleased that the president acknowledged the importance of export-led growth in the sector," it said.
It said it was encouraged by Ramaphosa's pragmatism regarding contemporary issues facing the agricultural sector such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, water infrastructure and increasing the pace of technology adoption across the globe.
"These factors could affect the growth and competitiveness of the South African agricultural sector in the global markets," said Agbiz.
- African News Agency (ANA)