Minister Didiza welcomes the signing of the first ever Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development,  Thoko Didiza, has hailed the signing of the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan (AAMP) as a step in the right direction for the sector to rebuild its competitiveness, recover from effects of Covid-19 pandemic, ensure food security, achieve inclusive growth and create sustainable decent jobs.

The Minister, speaking at the signing ceremony ahead of her Budget Policy speech for 2022, said “the rationale for social compacting in agriculture is to leverage both the private sector and other social partners’ capacity, talent, resources and capital to rebuild our country’s agricultural production, infrastructure, and markets in a manner that benefits all social partners.” 

The AAMP is the product based on an extensive research and stakeholder engagements that took more than 24 months.

Didiza said this plan represents a social compact that is co-created by all social partners to promote inclusive agricultural growth, transparent and predictable policy environment, equitable access to the means of production and financing, competitive and transformed food value chains, food secured households, decent jobs, better working conditions and farm safety, key infrastructure as well as expansion market access on a diversified basis. 

The AAMP is an example of evidence-based and co-created policy framework. 

“It is informed by research deep-dives and data analysis across 17 commodities to identify key value chains that can enhance growth and create job opportunities.”

She said the vision of the AAMP is to achieve a “Globally competitive agriculture and agro-processing sectors driving market-oriented and inclusive production to develop rural economies, ensure food security, and grow decent and inclusive employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for all participants in agriculture and agro-processing value chains”.

The Minister added that AAMP is also underpinned by an Action Plan that was co-created by government, business and labour as the basis for negotiating and agreeing specific and practical measures to attain the agreed-upon vision. 

The negotiation phase was centered on six pillars namely:

  • Resolving policy ambiguities and creating an investment-friendly environment;
  • Investing in, and maintaining the enabling infrastructure critical to industry, such as processing facilities, fresh produce markets, electicity, roads, rail and ports;
  • Providing comprehensive farmer assistance, development finance, R&D and extension services
  • Improving food security, increasing production and employment and ensuring decency and inclusivity
  • Facilitating market expansion, improving market access, and promoting trade
  • Improving localised food production, reducing imports and expanding agro-processing exports.

Some of the negotiated and agreed outcomes contained in the Master Plan are:

  • To enhance state capacity and efficiency and strengthen partnerships with the private sector to boost comprehensive farmer support programmes, biosecurity control measures and protocols, agricultural research and development, technology adoption, and access to markets;
  • To raise an estimated R9.4 billion for fast-tracking targeted infrastructure maintenance and expansion of irrigation schemes, dams, dipping tanks, fresh produce markets, and processing infrastructure;
  • To appoint 10 000 new extension, animal health, and other industry officers and technicians and second some officers to commodity associations and seed companies. 
  • To unlock R7 billion in agricultural financing for farmers and SMMEs through the Blended Finance Scheme, Agro-processing Fund, Statutory Levies, State Grants, Industry Trust and Supplier Development Programme;
  • To allocate a minimum of 3% of retailers and supermarkets’ net profit aligned to BBBEE to Supplier Development Programme

These measures and many others contained in the Master Plan will enable the sector to:

  • To achieve R32 billion real growth in agriculture value added above the Business-As-Usual baseline;
  • Maintaining 865 000 primary and 263 000 secondary agriculture jobs and creating 75 000 new decent jobs in the near to medium term;
  • To expand the commercial production area by 700 000 hectares of cropland, 19 550 hectares of irrigation and 1.5 million hectares of pastures using PLAS farms and commercial farms;
  • To enhance food security and support 303 000 livelihoods;
  • To increase the share of black farmers in overall production to 20% by 2030 to stimulate meaningful transformation. 

“To ensure that all key issues by social partners are fully explored, the AAMP document makes provision for two processes to be taken forward after the signing ceremony. The first, is a “built-in agenda” which unpacks the modalities, powers and composition of delivery models such as value chain round tables, transformation schemes pursued through a public-private partnership to increase black farmers’ participation in production, and labour forums to address conditions of labour. The AAMP also makes provisions to address unfinished business pertaining to issues of infrastructure, specific aspects of transformation, financing instruments, and other labour issues,” said Minister Didiza

The minister said that the signing of the Master plan provides a powerful bridge ahead to keep the unfulfilled concerns of social partners to be tabled during Track 2 negotiations that will focus on the modalities of implementation and to bolster the transformative qualities of the AAMP.

“Government will continue to intervene in cases where market failures exist to ensure fair and meaningful access for all farmers and agripreneurs involved in value chains. In addition to creating enabling legislation and policies, government will also facilitate and stimulate inclusive agricultural growth. “

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