Delivering its budget vote, MEC for Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs MJ Msibi said his province was undertaking numerous feasibility studies to unlock the provinces agricultural potential.
“We have completed the feasibility study for the establishment of Agri hubs in Nkangala and Nkomazi. The Development of the two Agri hubs (Nkangala and Nkomazi) is planned to commence this financial year. The Department is projecting 300 direct jobs to be created during construction stages of these developments” he said.
These infrastructure hubs are set to serve as incubations where “funds can be invested through partnering with other stakeholders for acquisition of farms where benefits of the investment can be realized.”
Touted to be one-stop-centres, these hubs will also include broiler houses, and environmental centres, and maintenance of community dams.
Tabling a budget of R1 billion, the department prioritised farmer support and development allocating close to R500 million.
Official statistics reckons that the province was third in hierarchy – contributing 11% (R34, billion) to the agricultural sector.
The province was mostly revered for its forestry and sugar trade with less success focus on agriculture. In recent years, tree nuts industry had shown massive potential between 2007 and 2017.
According to the department, the tree nut industry grew by ‘240% in terms of area planted and by 353% in terms of production (production per hectare increased).’ Over 53,7% of these nuts were exported to countries such as China and the European Union.
The MEC further said that during the financial year, the department will zone in macadamia nuts industry and aim to establish a processing plant.
For Land Reform, MEC Msibi said to 207 557.50 hectares of land has been acquired for distribution to qualifying farmers in the province.
“Therefore, as a Province, we support the current national effort to amend the property clause in the Constitution to clearly address transformation of land ownership.”