Sarah Baartman agri park programme progress draws praise from Minister

AUGUST 14, 2015

The future of economic development in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality was given a further boost when Rural Development and Land Reform Minister, Gugile Nkwinti, officially outlined a number of key objectives regarding the establishing of government’s agri park programme, during a consultative meeting at the Africano’s Country Estate near Addo, in the Sunday’s River Valley Local Municipality, on 13 August.

First mentioned by President Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation Address in February, the programme is aimed at growing the economy and ensuring food security, by involving mainly rural emerging farmers in the various fascists of the trait such as agro-production, processing, training, logistics and marketing.

The programme, which will consist out of a 70%-30% partnership between producers and government over a ten year period, will eventually be rolled out across the country’s 44 District Municipalities, of which 27, including the Sara Baartman District, had been identified as key priority areas.

“Our economy is growing slowly at a lousy 1.4%, and in some areas, you have an uneven situation where people are living in a first world South Africa, and others in a so-called third world South Africa,” Minister Nkwinti said.

“Many people out there have land they are not using and some even migrate from them. Hence, it is our idea to help grow the economy by developing the undeveloped parts of our country. It will be a tough challenge but one we believe can be done”.

He also stated that the introduction of an agri park could also have a significant impact on the eradicating of inequality and unevenness currently being experienced in the country.

“It is this underdevelopment that is pulling us down and often this leads to crime and people living in shacks. These are reasons why our agri parks are so important. It is a national program meant to lift our economy and smoothen out this unevenness,” the Minister said.

Addressing the number of farmers and farming representatives present at the event, Minister Nkwinti also encouraged their involvement as it is not in government’s interest to have the agri park board consisting solely out of state representatives.

“We want a board run by farmers with the technical and professional skills to help these emerging farmers. The Department will assist but there must that capacity to assist these new farmers,” he said.

Referring to the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, Minister Nkwinti expressed his surprise at the rapid progress shown under the leadership of Executive Mayor Khunjuzwa Eunice Kekana, saying that the park should act as a catalyst for the area.

“I never expected this at the Eastern Cape is lagging behind most provinces. What I saw here is very different. Like the parks in the North West and Free State, Sarah Baartman has taken responsibility as a District early on and now we are already establishing a board. I am therefore very excited for Sarah Baartman as we go forward,” he said.