The provincial department of agriculture intends to increase agricultural exports by at least 5% over the next five years as part of the Western Cape’s economic recovery, according to Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer.
Meyer announced a budget of R909 million when he tabled the provincial Agriculture Budget 2021 in the legislature.
Meyer said: “This budget facilitates the critical role that the agricultural sector plays to drive the economy and create jobs in the Western Cape.”
“The Department spent R11m on market access-related activities across multiple countries to increase agricultural product exports from the Western Cape. It’s evident from this sector’s export performance that 2020 was a good year for agricultural exports, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, except for a few commodities that had a slight decline.
“In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, a record 5 400 household gardens were established across the province. I would like to encourage citizens to start their household gardens to produce fresh, nutritious food for the household,” said Meyer.
Declining to support the vote, ANC provincial agriculture spokesperson Pat Marran said: “While we acknowledge the work of the MEC and the department in respect of the transport of agriworkers, and welcome the idea of an executive statement by the MEC on agriworkers’ working conditions and wages, the fact remains that agriworkers cannot be hopeful.
“This is because it’s DA policy that farmers must have the option to opt-out of the national minimum wage and be able to pay farmworkers the equivalent to the old-age pension grant, which is R1 800 a month.
“No amount of criticism of the national departments will change the fact that this is DA policy and there is no way the national chairperson of the DA, who is also the Agriculture MEC, will go back on DA policy.”
EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego said: “Here we are dealing with a department that has as its mission seeking to unlock the potential of agriculture and to enhance the economic and social wealth of all people in the province. However, the reality is the opposite to this effect.
“This is one department that doesn’t care about black people and poor farmworkers. The poor black farm workers continue to be exploited by racist white farmers who fill their pockets with millions of rand. The department celebrates record-high agricultural exports, but the lives of farmworkers do not improve or socially or economically.”
ACDP MPL Ferlon Christians said: “I compliment the MEC and the department on the initiative of the home gardens. I think that’s a tool to help the most vulnerable. It’s giving the people fishing rods in order to catch fish.”
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