Picture: 123RF/ZYCH
Picture: 123RF/ZYCH

In his state of the nation address last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa identified three labour-intensive sectors for targeted growth: agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing. This strategy was built on by finance minister Tito Mboweni in his August 2019 economic strategy document, aimed at growing agricultural exports by R6bn in the next 10 years.

These ambitious targets are precisely what the industry needs. The blueberry industry, for example, grew export revenue tenfold to R1bn from 2013 to 2018, and jobs from 1,000 to 8,000 over the same period. And we can grow these numbers exponentially in future. Access for high value crops such as blueberries to growing Eastern markets will be a major win for this administration and the economy.

With a laser focus on getting our nascent fruit industries into the world’s emerging markets, R6bn will not be the ceiling but the ground floor of agricultural sector growth for SA. The government needs to fast-track the processing of export protocols and boost the department of agriculture’s trade promotion and market access budget if we are going to see a return on investment in jobs and growth for the economy.

In his state of the nation address speech this year, Ramaphosa needs to elaborate on the substance of his plans and the mandate of his cabinet ministers, including agriculture minister Thoko Didiza, to bring these targets to fruition. This needs to be followed by adequate budgetary resources in Mboweni’s budget speech later this month.

Justin Mudge
SA Berry Producers Association

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