Industry wants new agriculture minister to address food security

The organisation said agriculture was a key contributor to the South African economy. Pictures compiled by Rabin Singh

The organisation said agriculture was a key contributor to the South African economy. Pictures compiled by Rabin Singh

Published Jul 2, 2024


The agricultural industry has expressed hope that the newly-appointed ministers of agriculture and land reform will prioritise food security, competitiveness, and environmental preservation.

This comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night appointed DA leader John Steenhuisen as minister of agriculture, and PAC leader Mzwanele Nyhontso as land reform and rural development minister in the 7th administration.

AgriCulture South Africa (AgriSA) CEO Johann Kotzé yesterday said they were committed to playing their role in supporting the GNU by actively engaging with all stakeholders to foster a cohesive and collaborative approach to addressing the sector’s challenges.

In line with this commitment, Kotzé said they were focused on addressing three critical areas that were vital to the well-being and prosperity of the nation.

Firstly, Kotzé said AgriSA recognises the importance of ensuring food security for all South Africans and thus wanted to improve agricultural productivity, sustainability, and profitability.

“AgriSA will work diligently to support policies and initiatives to enhance food security and promote access to safe, affordable, and nutritious food for all,” he said.

Secondly, Kotzé said agriculture was a key contributor to the South African economy.

“We are dedicated to work with the government to enhance the competitiveness of South African agriculture on a global scale, increasing exports, and opening new markets,” he said.

“This, in turn, could lead to the development of rural communities and contribute significantly to the reduction of poverty and unemployment in our country.”

Lastly, Kotzé said sustainable agriculture was essential for the preservation of the environment.

“AgriSA is committed to promoting policies and practices that protect and enhance our natural resources, ensuring their availability for future generations. By being responsible stewards of our natural resources, we can ensure that the agricultural sector remains viable and productive in the long term.”

Steenhuisen yesterday said the DA will use its Cabinet seats to pursue rapid growth and job creation.

Meanwhile, the Agricultural Business Chamber of SA (Agbiz) yesterday said the next step for the Government of National Unity (GNU) would be to realign policy ideas.

Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo said government officials and industry stakeholders should lend their support to the leader of this sector regardless of the political party they come from.

Sihlobo said the ideas of the major parties within the GNU were aligned and aimed for the betterment of the agricultural sector and rural communities.

“With respect to agriculture, the major political parties in the GNU, namely the ANC, DA, and IFP appear to be broadly aligned in our assessment,” Sihlobo said.

“Our view is that this should not be a huge area of contention as the parties in the GNU work to find a unified policy agenda for the 7th democratic administration.”

Sihlobo said that as a result, Steenhuisen and Nyhontso should satisfy the key objectives of all these political parties.

“The essential programme, which would be the starting point is the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan paired with the continuous release of state land to beneficiaries with title deeds, and blended finance in collaboration with the Land Bank and other financial organisations,” he said.

“The Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan encompass key interventions to many sector-focused matters that have slowed growth in recent times.

“Its rejuvenation and communication with all stakeholders across all levels of government are paramount. The cross-cutting issues that include inefficiencies in the network industries should be addressed through Operation Vulindlela, which the minister for this sector should support,” Sihlobo said.