New West Rand agri-park aims to bring the economy in the area back to life
Gauteng MEC of economic development‚ environment‚ agriculture and rural development Lebogang Maile on Thursday commissioned an agricultural park, which is aimed at helping emerging farmers aggregate their produce while also giving them access to storage facilities.
The agri-park, on the West Rand, will also enable farmers to package and have their stock graded for the markets.
Maile has embarked on the programme to support farmers in the province to transform rural communities and create much-needed jobs.
The West Rand is an area that used to thrive on mining activity and has experienced a decline in economic activity over the years. The plan of provincial government is to revitalise agriculture and agro-processing and bring the economy in the area back to life.
Maile said it was important for the Gauteng government to intervene and transform the agriculture sector, and bring millions of black people‚ women‚ youth and people with disabilities into productive activities and ownership within the mainstream economy.
"Our programme to transform‚ modernise and re-industrialise the Gauteng economy is based on a desire to see our economy growing inclusively‚ equitably and in a redistributive manner in order to tackle the triple challenges of poverty‚ unemployment and inequality which have plagued our country for far too long‚" Maile said.
The new agri-park comprises a packaging house‚ training room‚ hydroponics tunnel infrastructure and borehole water sources‚ all within a well secured and fenced property. It cost the department about R20-million.
The MEC also said he wants to promote investment in catalytic infrastructure across the five development corridors and stimulate economic growth.
Maile said his plan was to create an economically transformed‚ modern‚ innovation-driven agricultural sector‚ with sustainable environmental management for healthy‚ food secure‚ developed rural and urban communities in Gauteng.
The West Rand is one of the five development corridors within Gauteng identified for agro-processing‚ a logistics node as well as the blue and green economy.
"We want to leverage the West Rand’s high-value horticulture and aquaculture potential‚ focusing primarily on agri-business and agro-processing industries‚" Maile said.
With the opening of the agri-park on the West Rand‚ Maile is hoping that small-scale farmers, together with small businesses within the sector, will be able to enter the big market space and begin to participate in a meaningful manner.