|State of the Province Address by Dr Zweli Mkhize, the Premier of the province of KwaZulu-Natal
|24 February 2010
Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges KZN Legislature as the source of this document
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- Rural development/agrarian reform/food security
We remain convinced that rural development and the revival of the decaying small towns will be vital in stabilising the economy of our province, focusing on the need to promote rural economy and empowerment of the rural population.
This understanding calls for an integrated approach and maximising on the potential of each area as guided by our provincial spatial economic development strategy, which has clearly demarcated the sectors that drive the economy in different parts of the province.
To drive rural development, a team has been appointed and the framework of rural development strategy has been approved by Cabinet. The thrust of the strategy is the importance of aligning planning processes of the different spheres of government, integration of departmental effort and involvement of the people in their own development, empowering them to participate and own the processes of development to ensure sustainability.
The focus on the pilot areas of Msinga and Nkandla continues with the consolidation of resources from the national Departments of Agriculture, Land Affairs and Rural Development.
The appointment of Members of the Executive Council as champions of rural development in districts has improved the level of inter-governmental cooperation. It is always important to state that rural development has to be comprehensive and is all-encompassing and not just about agriculture, communal gardens, women's sewing and small poultry projects- it is about creating sustainable economies that will absorb labour and reduce migration to urban centres in search of a better life.
In view of the recession and spiralling food prices which threatened food security, we identified agriculture as a catalyst for economic development. Our key focus was to build self-sufficiency in agricultural production, to support land reform programmes while creating access to local and international markets for large commercial and small scale farmers, including agricultural co-operatives.
Many emerging farmers have been driven to bankruptcy by lack of farming skills and experience, the high cost of inputs (such as fuel, fertilisers, electricity, etc.), non-availability of finance for farming operations and lack of access to markets; but rarely lack of commitment and love for farming.
A special purpose vehicle, known as the Agribusiness Development Agency (ADA) was established several months ago, to support emerging black commercial farmers and rescue the land reform projects from collapse. The agency will assist the farmers, reduce the skills gap that the land reform process has inadvertently created and negotiate refinancing mechanisms to save the farms from sinking into debt and being repossessed by the banks.
A working agreement has been secured with the Land Bank which had financed most of the farms and had to be persuaded from liquidating the operating farmers and repossessing the property. The agency assessed 32 Land Bank farms that were on the verge of repossession. Today we can report that:
- 13 farms which are mainly under sugar production were included into the sugar mills agreement of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development. These farms were assisted with re-planting, and ratoon management.
- Four farms required capital injection for expansion purposes in order to be able to meet their debt obligations. These farms have been prioritised for additional support in the 2010/11 financial year.
- Seven farms were either found to be abandoned or the farmer was no longer interested in farming. These farms will form part of the "incubator" programme of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the Land Bank. These farms will be purchased by the state at the outstanding debt price, recapitalised and new beneficiaries identified. ADA will be part of the recapitalisation programme.
- Two farms required forensic audits, and the Provincial Treasury is conducting them. In the interim, production support has been provided to one of the farms to re-plant the sugar cane.
The ADA Team has entered into Memoranda of Understanding with the sugar millers and the Citrus Growers Association. These organisations have pledged technical support, mentorship and skills development support to the entrant farmer, and will fund these programmes themselves. The Citrus Growers Association of South Africa is currently providing skills training beneficiaries to 10 land reform farms across the province.
The strategy of the agency will be to initiate, facilitate and manage partnerships between the private sector and farmers in order to secure market access, accessing mentorship and skills development support and leveraging additional private sector investments for the land reform farms.
Agreements are also being finalised with investors in the dairy and beef sectors, focusing on Sisonke (Greater Kokstad Local Municipal area) and for the production of chicory in the greater Weenen and Muden areas, in partnership with Nestle (Estcourt).
The agency has secured capital funds to the amount of R239 million from the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) and from development funds earmarked for specific farms from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. With these resources, the agency will create 1099 additional permanent jobs and 2538 seasonal jobs in the agri-business sector. These interventions will also assist in sustaining and growing 1 045 entrant black commercial farmers in the province. The agency is finalising an agreement with RMA, an investment agency that has contracts to supply the major chain of retail stores, while they lease farms and mentor the owners and turn around the farms to become viable.
The rural development team has entered into a working relationship with Ingonyama Trust Board to identify communal land over 100 hectares under each and every inkosi for massive production along commercial lines and integrate subsistence farmers to the major marketing outlets. They will promote the one village one product approach to maximise on capacity building, technical support and logistics.
We thank His Majesty the King for the initiative and urge all amakhosi to come on board. An audit process has already identified such land in Mkhuze, Nongoma, and Mahlabathini and will continue in other areas. Out of its funds, the Ingonyama Trust Board has pledged to fund fencing and, to a limited extent, irrigation, while the Department of Agriculture will focus on mechanisation, technical support and other input costs. A similar scheme is already in operation at Zwart Mfolozi under Inkosi Zondo, involving local villagers in supplying large local and overseas markets.
In this regard, as we further seek to enhance the role of our traditional leaders in the affairs of their province, we wish to convey our gratitude to His Majesty for his support in addressing some of the challenges of the past. We are all aware of His Majesty the King's love for farming.
We urge all farmers to move at a furious speed to meet the need for the huge export market opened by the Dube Trade Port that will be commissioned in May this year. There are just too many countries that have asked KwaZulu-Natal to supply them with fresh agricultural products.
They are waiting for us to get our act together! That is why we insist that we have to the build agricultural sector because of its capacity to create large numbers of jobs and also move our province towards self-sufficient food production.
I want to commend the white farmers that have responded to the call I made in my opening address last year, to support the development of emerging black farmers. I have not once encountered opposition to the land reform process. In the agricultural sector we are seeing the seeds of a better future being built and nation building at work! Many farmers and farm dwellers have discussed their frustrations with the government. We must discuss and seek further solutions to reassure farm owners to continue to invest and reduce uncertainty caused by the delays in land restitution processes.
Similarly, we need to help to empower new owners to prevent reduction in the productive capacity of acquired farms and to control the unplanned settlement patterns in the cases of group claimants that often compromise the most productive parts of the farms.
We remain seized with efforts to fight crime in the farming community as we condemn the murder of farmers which creates a siege mentality for them while stock theft wipes out savings of rural communities. We will continue to work hard to improve the relations between farm workers and their employers and eliminate ill-treatment of farm dwellers.
We need to promote an understanding that the Bill of Rights applies in every part of the land, including private farms, to protect all. I urge the farming community to come forward to share their concerns and their proposed solutions with government. Our strategy in this matter is to seek solutions and contribute to build a strong, secure and self-reliant nation and a better future together.
- Food security
When the whole world was celebrating the birth of our former President Nelson Mandela on 18 July 2009, we launched the one home, one garden campaign.
We called on individuals, all communities and big business to set aside time and start a garden on this day. This campaign was aimed at reducing the impact of food insecurity and has taken off very well. More than sixty tons of seed were distributed and many families are now planting and producing their own vegetables.
Deserving households were identified using the multiple deprivation index. Working with the Independent Development Trust over 4 000 individuals and members of cooperatives have been given short courses to revive the culture of home gardening. The MEC is working out a strategy of expanding this capacity building programme throughout the whole province to enable families to rely on their gardens for household vegetable requirements.
We have set the target of 40 000 individuals per annum to make an impact. We have noticed that the culture of dependency has resulted in gardens being overgrown with weeds and people starving with the freely supplied seeds in their shelves! We will intensify mobilisation to get one home one garden to be a household campaign propagated by neighbours, schools and churches and extend it to be one school one garden and one church one garden, respectively.
This approach is meant to create surplus for sale. Competitions will now be introduced and partnership will be sought with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to create the vibrancy necessary for the campaign. We urge you all to create a garden in every home and help us build a better future together.
The culture of cooperatives has irreversibly taken root in KwaZulu-Natal. Seven agricultural cooperatives have signed Memoranda of Understanding with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Department of Health to supply vegetables to 18 public hospitals. The first supplies have already been delivered.
Critically, the training of agricultural secondary cooperatives on corporate governance and business management has been accelerated since October 2009 involving cooperatives from several districts. In addition, sixteen leaders of secondary cooperatives are currently attending government-sponsored training in Kenya, following similar training for Government officials last year.
In the near future, government will assume a hands-off approach to cooperatives, and offer the necessary institutional and technical support and environment necessary for them to develop and play a meaningful role in the economy of our province.
Facilities have been established to support secondary agricultural cooperatives in several districts in addition to the training for leaders equipped with diplomas and degrees in these fields. The University of Zululand and the Durban University of Technology have taken a keen interest in this field.
The process to appoint the new head of the Department of Agriculture has been finalised and a leader is expected to assume office by the first of April. This will bring stability and lift this department to the heights expected for the critical role this sector has to play in changing the lives and creating the momentum for economic recovery.