Govern­ment to pri­ori­tise one agri-park per prov­ince

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Weekly News Wrap -

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

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