Not everyone is satisfied yet, but SA’s first agricultural master plan has been signed

  • The first master plan for agriculture in South Africa is signed.
  • Minister Thoko Didiza noted that not all stakeholders are completely satisfied with the plan.
  • The plan aims to address food security, drive localization, limit imports and transform the sector.

A new master plan for South Africa’s agriculture and agro-processing sectors aims to drive transformation in the sector, but not all stakeholders are satisfied.

The Master Plan for agriculture and agricultural transformation was signed on Thursday, in view of the vote on the budget of the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza in Parliament.

The process to develop the plan started in June 2020, Didiza said. It involved negotiations with stakeholders focused on creating certain policies for an investor-friendly environment, improving food security, supporting farmers, investing and maintaining critical infrastructure, reducing imports and improving production localized food, on supporting market expansion and promoting trade.

The resulting plan is a social pact aimed at creating a competitive and inclusive global sector.

Didiza noted that the development of the plan was not easy given the various interests of the various stakeholders.

“Each constituency would like to make sure that its position and interest, including the formulation of proposals, are reflected in the document … Even in this process, the negotiations have resulted in a minimum program that is not satisfactory for all parties,” Didiza said.

The minister said the issues still require further engagement between the parties.

“We want an inclusive process and, therefore, we must strive to find each other … This document that we have before us today is a living document and as such we must accept that continuously changing conditions will require us to be responsive”, Didiza said.

The social protection of agricultural workers was a particular sticking point. “I am aware that some constituencies still want to persuade each other on those issues they feel strong on, especially the issue of the social protection of agricultural workers,” Didiza said.

After signing, there will be a process to unpack the delivery of some of the measures, such as transformation programs to be pursued through public-private partnerships and job forums to address working conditions. Other outstanding issues to be addressed relate to infrastructure, financing, other labor issues and specific aspects of transformation.

The “unmet concerns” of the social partners will be taken into account during the next round of negotiations focused on implementing and strengthening the transformation aspects, the department noted in a statement.

The government has pledged to create enabling laws and policies and to support inclusive agricultural growth, the minister said.

READ | One in five farmers in SA plans to leave the sector in the next 10 years – study

Interested parties have agreed on several measures. This includes strengthening the capacity and efficiency of the state and strengthening partnerships with the private sector to address sector-specific issues such as farmer support programs, agricultural research and development, technology adoption and market access.

The master plan also indicates the raising of Rand 9.4 billion for the maintenance and expansion of the infrastructure. It also agrees that R7 billion in agricultural funding will go to support farmers and small businesses.

The measures could achieve R32 billion in added value growth from the agricultural sector, maintaining over one million jobs in space, creating 75,000 new decent jobs, improving food security and expanding commercial production.

It will also increase the share of black farmers in production to 20% by 2030.

The minister presented a budget of Rand 17.3 billion, with most of the budget earmarked for transfers to provinces and agricultural entities. Another part goes towards commercializing black farmers through supporting land development.

So far, grain, livestock and oilseed farmers have come from this program.