New farm­ers needed for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of KZN’S agri­cul­ture

Sunday Tribune - - KZN - GIVEN MA­JOLA­[email protected]

IN­CREAS­ING the num­ber of en­trants to Kwazulu-natal’s agri­cul­tural in­dus­try is key to the prov­ince’s growth and job cre­ation, ac­cord­ing to the KZN Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment spokesper­son, Phathisa Mfuyo.

KZN pro­duced al­most 30 per­cent of na­tional agri­cul­tural out­put.

Suit­able nat­u­ral re­sources in KZN gave the prov­ince a com­par­a­tive ad­van­tage in agri­cul­ture as 4.5 mil­lion hectares was suit­able for live­stock pro­duc­tion and 1.5 mil­lion hectares was arable.

Live­stock pro­duc­tion con­trib­uted close to 47 per­cent of to­tal KZN agri­cul­tural value. It was es­ti­mated that about 316 000 hectares of the arable land in the com­mu­nal ar­eas were cur­rently un­der-utilised, Mfuyo said.

The depart­ment said pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged (black emerg­ing) farm­ers at small-holder level in the sec­tor con­tin­ued to face se­vere struc­tural con­straints that had re­sulted in the stag­na­tion or de­cline of agri­cul­tural en­ter­prises.

“These con­straints in­clude, among oth­ers, rel­a­tively high pro­duc­tion costs, in­ad­e­quate ac­cess to fund­ing for new cap­i­tal de­vel­op­ment and main­te­nance of in­fra­struc­ture, and in­ap­pro­pri­ate land and wa­ter us­age.”

These chal­lenges had seen the sec­tor fac­ing a de­cline in pro­duc­tion, a con­tin­ued de­cline in agri­cul­tural em­ploy­ment, low lev­els of com­pet­i­tive­ness and a neg­a­tive im­pact on food se­cu­rity.

“The fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of the agri­cul­tural sec­tor in the prov­ince will be premised on the trans­for­ma­tion and pro­mo­tion of pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged pro­duc­ers and their in­clu­sion in the agri­cul­tural main­stream econ­omy,” Mfuyo said.

Mfuyo said the depart­ment had a team of world-class re­searchers who were pro­duc­ing new knowl­edge in crop, live­stock and nat­u­ral re­source man­age­ment spread across its re­search sta­tions, while their col­leges were pro­duc­ing new grad­u­ates to help en­sure farm­ers gained greater in­sight into their cho­sen commodities and the value-chain as a whole.

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