Today (23 January 2014) Minister Alan Winde addressed students at the start of the academic year at Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute in Stellenbosch. This year 235 first-students enrolled in the institute.
It’s such a pleasure to be here at the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute today.
You find yourselves in this industry at a very exciting time.
In the Western Cape, we are focussing on “game changing” industries and projects that will deliver real growth and jobs to our residents.
By entering this sector you will play an important role in moving this province forward in the years ahead.
One of our highest priorities is transforming agriculture through our land reform projects.
We want to make sure that as many people as possible can benefit from growth in the industry.
The NDP has set a target of 20% transfer of agricultural land to previously disadvantaged South Africans by 2030.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has started with the launching of the District Land Reform Committees.
These committees will be responsible for identifying land reform opportunities in their immediate area.
In the Western Cape, we will assist these committees with implementation.
Already, 60% of this province’s land reform projects are on track.
My hope is that by the time you have completed your studies we can point to even more success stories.
We know that for agriculture to remain competitive, we must build on the culture of innovation.
This is why we are turning our focus to agri-processing.
Agri-processing is already a large contributor to the economy and holds significant growth potential. It directly contributes R12 billion in Gross Value Added and accounts for 79,000 formal jobs in the province.
Under a high growth scenario, the sector’s GVA contribution could increase by 126%, to R26 billion in 2019, and it could add a further 100,000 formal jobs over the same period.
There are challenges in reaching this goal.
There is huge pressure on our resources. We will have to find new ways to improve water management and we are looking at developing new infrastructure and water use efficiency programmes.
Skills development and R&D are very important priorities. Here we have very exciting things in mind.
A concept we will look into is the establishment of specialized agro-processing parks providing R&D, skills development facilities and a suite of world-class infrastructure.
In the Western Cape, we are serious about skills development for young people.
We recognize that we need to give you the support you need to create a better future for yourselves to make a valuable contribution to our society and economy.