Agriculture

MEC: We had a challenging but fruitful year

Northern Cape MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Land Reform and Rural Development Mase Manopole writes:

This year, witnessed the realisation of the birth of a new Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform coming in to realization, after the merger of the Departments of Agriculture with Environment and Nature Conservation.

This, came about after the Premier Dr Zamani Saul’s announcement in 2019, that the two Departments should come together to form a new Department.

The staff members in both Departments have been assured from time to time, that no jobs will be lost.

We have started the New Year on a great footing, after we received good rains, especially in areas which were hard hit by drought. Our Province has been under the drought spell for more than ten years.

Agriculture sector

However, when we were about to celebrate the passing of the drought spell, we were hit hard by the scourge of brown locusts.

If we didn’t have the hard working controlling teams led by national Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, we would have seen the locusts ruining everything we managed to gather from the good rainfall we have experienced to date.

We still have some spots in the Province in which the locusts were spotted, but our teams working together with farmers, are on the ground, controlling the swarm.

During winter time, we were constantly faced with velfires which are ravaging our grazing land and vegetation. This year was not an exception- areas which were affected the most were the John Taolo Gaetsewe District, Francis Baard District and some parts of ZF Mgcawu. Our veterinary unit which worked closely with the SPCA attended to the injured animals and also, from our fodder banks, we managed to donate fodder to affected farmers in the respective and affected Districts.

Furthermore, in our collaboration effort with the national Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and Coghsta, we are in a process of revitalisation of the Northern Cape Fire Protection Association.

This initiative is aligned in term of the National Forest and Veld Fire Act 101 of 1998.

This newly established structure will assist in ensuring smooth participation of Fire Protection Associations, organs of state and well as other relevant stakeholders within the fire management sector. I wish all the elected individuals all the best in the fight against this anticipated veld fires.

Since last year, our Province like the rest of the country and the world, was hit by the outbreak of the novel Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected our lives in so many fronts.

The national department of Agriculture made available, about R1 billion, to assist affected farmers in the whole country and our Farmers in the Province received more than R40 million of the lion’s share.

Regardless of the above mentioned challenges we are faced with, our farmers have always been able to bruise the storm and come out victorious- We really thank them for their perseverance and collaboration.

The Agribusiness fourth-quarter results, presented a picture of a sector poised for another year of positive growth, if weather conditions remain favourable and the logistics remain fairly operational for export markets.

As the Department, we were concerned that the higher input costs would discourage planting in some areas of the country, but all the high-frequency data point to the opposite.

Our farmers in crop production and vineyard, have been able to boost the plantings and taking advantage of the favourable weather conditions and attractive commodity prices.

In 2022, we are hoping for another year of solid growth in the Northern Cape agricultural sector.

Environment Sector

At the recent COP 26 gathering in Glasgow, our Province launch the Green Hydrogen Facility establishment.

The Province is on a mission to establish the Green hydrogen facility, with its planned location in the Richtersveld area next to the coast.

The Green Hydrogen facility is permitted and protected by the Constitution of South Africa which ensures a safe and healthy environment for all.

As a Province we need to align ourselves with the National Sustainable Development Goals within the Green Hydrogen sector.

The global environment’s sustainability in the 21st century, looks generally to the capacity for the earth’s biosphere and human civilization to co-exist.

This is mainly because sustainability is determined by three different parameters namely; environmental sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability.

Hence the sustainable development becomes an organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services on which the economy and society depend.

Furthermore, the Northern Cape Province is in a process of completing a revised Provincial Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, Provincial Mitigation strategy and a Greenhouse gas inventory.

The strategy is looking at issues regarding rising sea level which would possibly pollute the ground water by means of making it saline and not being to be consumed by communities. This would be a big challenge for the province which is an already water stressed province.

As the Department, which is also responsible for agriculture, we need to implement the strategy in a smart way to use less water and more effectively.

The Northern Cape is home to a great variety of protected plants and animal species. In conjunction with our various stakeholders, we will intensify our awareness campaigns on illegal poaching of biodiversity in the Namakwa District. The smuggling of our rare and endangered species, which is a major threat to our biodiversity, will have to stop.

In closing, as we come to the end of a challenging but fruitful year in the sector, we must remember that the environment is not dependent on us, we are dependent on the environment, for sustainable livelihoods.

Wishing everyone in the sector, a Merry Christmas and Prosperous 2022

I thank you.

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