Time to grow
From maize to grapes - Agri Parks to encourage farming
AN AGRI Park business plan for the Chris Hani District Municipality has been approved by national government and is currently awaiting funding according to Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana.
In a press statement following Zokwana’s address at an Agri Parks meeting in East London on Tuesday, the department indicated that a study of suitable crops for identified sites in various districts, in collaboration with provincial departments and the Agricultural Research Council, was undertaken.
“An example of this is the Chris Hani District (Municipality), whose Agri Park business plan has been approved and is in the process of getting funding. The crops suitable for this area are grain crops like maize, sorghum, soybeans and fruits like grapes, stone fruits and vegetables.”
An Agri Park (AP) is a networked innovation system of agro production, processing, logistics, marketing, training and extension services, located in district municipalities. As a network it enables a market-driven combination and integration of various agricultural activities and rural trans- formation services.
Eastern Cape rural development and agrarian reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane said government was working with farmers, national departments of agriculture, forestry and fisheries as well as rural development and land reform sectors to accelerate the start of Agri Parks in the province.
Since the announcement by President Jacob Zuma in February during the State of the Nation Address, both provincial and national government had set aside about R221.5-million which was currently being used for primary production while about R137. 9-m was being used for agriculture infrastructure in the current financial year. Water, electricity and storage facility infrastructure were risk areas that would be addressed and needed to be incorporated into the broader infrastructure plans of Agri Parks as these were key.
“To ensure ac- countability and broader stakeholder participation in the Agri Parks, government set up District Agri Parks Advisory in all districts with terms of reference shared with all stakeholders,” Qoboshiyane said.
In Chris Hani, there will be three Agri Parks in Queenstown and the Emalahleni and Intsika Yethu districts, with Queenstown as one of the six provincial gateways.