Agriculture is one of the industries with the greatest potential for growth.
These were the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address in Cape Town on Thursday night.
“This year, we implement key recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture to accelerate land redistribution, expand agricultural production and transform the industry,” he said.
Ramaphosa said that Government stands ready – following the completion of the Parliamentary process to amend section 25 of the Constitution – to table an Expropriation Bill that outlines the circumstances under which expropriation of land without compensation would be permissible.
“To date, we have released 44,000 hectares of state land for the settlement of land restitution claims, and will this year release round 700,000 hectares of state land for agricultural production.
“We are prioritising youth, women, people with disabilities and those who have been farming on communal land and are ready to expand their operations for training and allocation of land.
“A new beneficiary selection policy includes compulsory training for potential beneficiaries before land can be allocated to them,” he said.
On drought, Ramaphosa said that because of the drought in many parts of the country, farmers lost crops and livestock and many workers have lost their livelihoods.
“Working with the Agricultural Research Council and other scientific and agricultural bodies, we have developed drought mitigation strategies that focus on developing drought resistant seeds, planting and storing fodder, removing of invasive plants and management strategies to prevent soil degradation.
This year we will open up and regulate the commercial use of hemp products, providing opportunities for small-scale farmers; and formulate policy on the use of cannabis products for medicinal purposes, to build this industry in line with global trends.
The regulatory steps will soon be announced by the relevant ministers.
A fundamental condition for growth and development is a healthy and productive population, with access to quality, affordable health care.