Government to prioritise one agri-park per province
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) would be prioritising one agri-park per province to ensure that it becomes operational as soon as possible.
This was according to Mapurunyane Bapela, Free State head of Rural Enterprise and Industrial Development at DRDLR, who spoke at the recent Climate Smart Agriculture Futures Scenarios workshop in Pretoria, where he outlined the progress made with agri-parks in the Free State.
Bapela said the department had initially planned to operate one agri-park per municipal district across the country, which equated to 44 agri-parks in total.
“The decision to focus on [a single] agri-park [per province] was taken earlier this year to ensure that
[the agri-park] is completed and operationalised within a short space of time, and ensure that it receives more resources to fast-track it.”
The decision about which agri-parks to prioritise was based on various factors to assess a particular agripark’s state of readiness, including whether an environmental impact assessment had been completed or was not needed, the availability of bulk infrastructure, or whether the site had access to electricity and water, he said.
The agri-park that had been prioritised in the Free State, for example, was located in Maluti-aPhofung Special Economic
Zone, due to its location and the availability of infrastructure. Bapela said each agri-park would comprise three elements: a farmer production support unit, mainly for collection, storage and value adding of produce; an agri hub for agro-processing; and a ruralurban market centre that would facilitate market access and linkages for imports and exports.
“The agri-parks that are not being prioritised are not necessarily neglected or abandoned; planning is still continuing to improve their state of readiness, such as setting up support for local farmers with production inputs, training and capacity building. This will ensure that when the first ones are completed or near completion, [work on] the next one can commence immediately,” he said. – Siyanda Sishuba