South Africa’s agriculture sector has struggled with deal with transformation challenges.
This is according to Tsakani Ngomane from the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation in the Office of the President.
“The experiences we’ve had over the past 21 years is of a sector that has been struggling to deal with transformation challenges – how do we build on a successful, commercial agriculture that is more export-oriented, without protecting that sector but also encouraging new entrants into that space,” she told CNBC Africa.
“You think of support services, of access to land, access to markets, financial services – it’s been a challenge, hence the proposals in the NDP. It presents a vision that, [if] embraced by all societies in South Africa, could then deal with issues of transformation.”
Ngomane, speaking on a panel focused on harnessing the power of agriculture, added that this would also help in dealing with the challenge of protecting the commercial agri sector while at the same time, dealing with the majority in the rural sector that looks to it as a source of livelihood.
Peter Staude, CEO of Tongaat Hulett emphasised that agriculture is still a key socio issue is one that doesn’t get enough air time.
“If you think about our population of some 50 million people, maybe 20 million of them live in a rural context and very often, when you read the conversation we have in our country, it’s about the 30 million people,” he said.
“When you look into the rural context, some of the poorest of the poor live in that area. If you then look at what industries, what businesses are there to supply them [with] hope for the future, agriculture is centre to that conversation.
He further stated that South Africa must recognise rural dynamics and how it will impact the country if it doesn’t get it right.