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WATCH: Agriculture offers partnership and investment opportunities

By Wallace Mgoqi Time of article published Feb 7, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Africa has some islands of success worth emulating in Africa, such as Ivory Coast's development of agriculture to agri-business.

The Africa Report country profile last year highlighted that agriculture had always been a mainstay of Ivory Coast's economy.

“It is an unparalleled source of employment and wealth for a country with enough arable land to sustain a primary sector of rare diversity in the sub-region Since Ivory Coast gained independence, the agricultural sector has been one of the main drivers of its economic growth.”

It is part of the country's National Development Plan, with ambitious objectives such as increasing the sector’s growth to 9percent a year so that it stimulates the entire national economy.

It ensures food security, promotes local processing of agricultural products and the building of an agro-industrial fabric to create more than 2million jobs - reducing poverty.

Ivory Coast has natural agricultural potential: the combination of climate, water resources and arable land with more than 13million hectares of cultivable land still available.

To create jobs and wealth, Ivory Coast aimed to add value to its crops by processing them prior to exporting, especially its most important sectors, like cocoa and cashew nuts, the latter though is only 10percent of 800000 tons produced every year, the former at 30percent.

Statistically it holds 26percent of agriculture's share of the country's gross domestic product; 40percent of the world's cocoa production; 46percent of the country's population works in agriculture and it hold a 62percent agricultural product share of the country's exports, excluding oil.

The sector already employs nearly 250000 people.

South Africa should follow the Ivory Coast strategy. There are vast opportunities for partnerships and investments in local agriculture.

Municipalities can lead the process of structuring and managing their administration as well as budgeting and planning processes to give priority to the basic needs of communities, while promoting the social and economic development of communities.

This, I submit, can take the form of leasing the municipal commonages to people intent on using the land productively, profitably and sustainably.

In metropolitan Cape Town this has been happening for decades in the form of golf courses on municipal land. Agri-Dwala, a black economic empowerment farming initiative under the leadership of philanthropic mentor Kosie van Zyl in Napier, near Caledon, is a good example.

Van Zyl took a group of destitute coloured families under his wing, and they became self-sustaining.

The government has a duty to make start-up capital available in agriculture to ensure business plans are designed and implementation plans - including financing of inputs, training in agricultural techniques, distribution of farm inputs up to market facilitation - to maximise profits and trade domestically and internationally.

There are also opportunities for the application of the 4th Industrial Revolution in agriculture, as organisations like the One Acre Fund are doing already in putting tablets in the hands of farmers for use as well as in collecting loan repayments and micro finance transactions.

Surely municipalities could provide municipal commonage land, which is arable, favoured by certain climatic conditions and with water resources.

Dr Wallace Mgoqi is chairperson of AYO Technology Solutions and a former Land Claims Court acting judge.


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