Speech of MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, Gauteng MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, at the 16th Annual Winterveldt Citrus Harvest Festival, Winterveld
17 Jul 2010
Programme Director Pogiso Modise
Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Dr Joe Phaahla
Chairperson of Winterveldt Citrus Projects Mr J M Matlou
Executive Members of Winterveldt Citrus Projects
Representative of NDA Mr Reuben Mogano
Representative of ARC Dr Shadrack Moephuli
WCP Chairperson Dr Sam Motsuenyane
Representatives of Diplomatic Communities
Dignitaries from all spheres of government national, provincial and local government
Farmers and Farm Workers
Donor agencies and farmer organisations
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
I feel greatly honoured and privileged to participate in this 6 th annual citrus harvest festival of 2010.
This harvest festival comes after our successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2010, the first on African soil, which ended a few days ago. We are all winners because we hosted the best FIFA tournament ever. To some of us, this kind of gathering is a continuation of our celebration of an event that will remain with us for sometime.
Programme director; let me start by congratulating all farmers involved in the Winterveld Citrus Project for their commitment to ensure that this project becomes a reality. A reality because it started as an emerging farm and today the project is a commercial entity, ready to challenge the market. Government through GDARD encourages farmers to move out of emerging status, and like a child progress to crawl, stand and walk toward commercial viability. The fact that the project started with a production of 5 ton in 2005 to 72 ton in 2008 shows that this project is no longer crawling, but has begun running the marathon of production within the sector. Most importantly, it is playing an active role in the economy of this country.
This project is aligned with the Gauteng government priorities and the pillars of the department's mandate: stimulating rural development and food security, and creating decent work and building a growing and inclusive economy . You are stimulating the economy of rural Winterveld, by creating employment that ensures that workers' families do not go to bed hungry. That is the kind of contribution this government is looking for, working together with you to make a better life for all.
Programme Director, we learned that in this area the Winterveldt Farmers Association has cooperatives that include piggery, vegetables, livestock, morula and earthworms. GDARD encourages farmers to grow so that they can easily access markets and continuously supply that market with products. During 2009, GDARD launched cooperatives here in Tshwane with the aim of assisting them to grow. As we speak, 18 cooperatives are supplying the provincial government's health and social institutions with produce such as vegetables and eggs. Another contract worth R10 million is being finalized with another 20 cooperatives with Department of Economic Development.
The department also encourages and helps farmers to move towards secondary farming that is agro-processing. We need to process what we produce - oranges into juice. This will also help farmers to directly supply chain stores. GDARD can help in providing agro-processing infrastructures for your farm.
Very soon GDARD, after it is formally adopted by the Gauteng Provincial Government, will launch the Rural Development strategy. The strategy focuses on increasing agriculture and food production and redressing the imbalances between rural and urban migration by addressing the need for better social and economic infrastructure. Through the Rural Development Strategy, GDARD will also promote co-operatives and small enterprises and support job creating for economic growth in the agricultural sector.
We are delighted that your project also addresses the issue of skills shortage in the country by establishing an Agricultural School and Training Centre in collaboration with the Agricultural Research Centre. This promotes quality education and skills development, in line with the government's overall priorities. At the moment GDARD is finalising plans to launch a similar agricultural training centre or college in the West Rand. We believe that this training centre will develop skills and empower people in agriculture and agro-processing in particular, especially young people who want to follow careers in the agricultural sector. This kind of training centre will also empower farmers and develop them from emerging to commercial farmer status. The training centre you envisage establishing will complement the one we are finalising in the West Rand. Our doors remain open to engage on how to collaborate with the department in future on the matter.
Programme Director, in the good work being done in fighting poverty and creating decent employment, it is important to create a conducive environment for your employees, the farm workers. We have noted with great concern the kind of treatment these communities receive from the farmers who are their employers. We cannot produce highly quality products if employees are living and working in poor conditions. If we fail to treat them with respect, they will do the same to us. They will be unproductive, which will lead to the poor functioning of this farm. If you adhere to the labour laws applicable to farm workers, they will respect you and put more effort in being productive.
I am happy that your project is growing and productive. This proves those wrong who believe that black people cannot farm successfully.
We must all remember that “ Working together we can do more ”.
Source: Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gauteng Provincial Government
Issued by: Gauteng Agriculture and Rural Development
17 Jul 2010
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