Speech by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Joemat-Pettersson at the launch of Arbor Week
1 Sep 2011This day is significant in many ways. I am overwhelmed with excitement about today. It is Arbor Day, it is Spring Day and it has also been dubbed “Springbok Day”. Our Rugby heroes are departing this evening for New Zealand to defend the World Rugby title they won in France four years ago. In about ten days’ time the Bokke will trot onto the pitch carrying the hopes and aspirations of millions of South Africans.
We wish them all the best of luck and they must know that the country is 100 percent behind them in their quest to retain the William Webb Ellis Trophy. They must bring the trophy back home where it belongs!
Halala die Bokke Halala!!!!!!!!!!!!
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) places a high priority on agriculture and forestry. This sector is being negotiated under various themes in the negotiations under UNFCCC as it is one of the most vulnerable sectors that are likely to be significantly impacted by climate change. Addressing agriculture is crucial to achieving global climate change goals, both in terms of adaptation and mitigation as well as global food security, rural development and poverty alleviation.
As part of the preparatory process for the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) which will be hosted by South Africa in Durban, from 28 November 2011 to 9 December 2011, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in collaboration with the African Union and a number of leading international organisations will be hosting the African Ministerial Conference under the theme “Climate-Smart Agriculture– Africa: A Call to Action” on 13 to 14 September, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) forms part of the South African government’s preparatory and planning processes for the hosting of this high level and global event, known as COP 17.
We have already started with various consultative processes including national, regional and international stakeholders meetings and forums in preparation for the anticipated but highly publicised climate event.
Two weeks ago, the department hosted the national stakeholder’s conference on climate change with the aim of creating momentum and build-up towards COP17 and to allow the opportunity for all stakeholders to participate at COP17. One of the objectives of national climate change conference held recently was also to facilitate stakeholder and sector discussion on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA). Climate-Smart Agriculture is a fairly new concept particularly in Africa.
Although there is no globally accepted definition of Climate-Smart Agriculture, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Bank define this concept as “production systems that sustainably increase productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes Green House Gas (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals”. In short, Climate-Smart Agriculture includes proven practical techniques and approaches that can help achieve a triple win for food security, adaptation and mitigation.
This year’s Arbor Week will be celebrated under the theme: Forests for People. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries introduced the Million Trees Programme in 2007 to ensure greening of the country and to contribute towards mitigating the effects of global climate change.
The Million Trees Programme is implemented in partnership with other government departments, non-governmental organisations, community based organisations and the corporate sector. The Million Trees Programme is not only aimed at beautifying surroundings and improving the aesthetic value of our properties, but to also address environmental and social concerns such as climate change and food security.
Climate change can have an impact on food security and the use of forest products for household consumption. However, through appropriate approaches such as Smart- Agriculture, which involves agroforestry, interventions can be put in place to mitigate and ensure proper adaptation measures. Forestry can contribute to food security through the following:
- Fruit trees and orchards integrated into food gardens
- Timber in small plantations used for household consumption, such as fire wood and building material. Money that would have been used for energy can now be available for buying food and other household items, especially in rural areas where there is a high prevalence of poverty
- Job creation. Most forestry plantations occur in rural areas where there is a high prevalence of poverty. Currently forests account for an estimated 200 000 jobs through primary and secondary processing industries
- Forestry industries help with rural development, especially by bringing infrastructure where there are new developments.
The opportunities presented by new afforestation in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, which is estimated to be 100000 ha, will definitely contribute to employment creation and indirectly address food security. Employment created through this initiative is estimated to be 2 000 direct and 8 000 indirect jobs. This will translate into 10 000 jobs when the trees are mature and processed. In addition, the trees that take longer (e.g. production for sawn timber) to grow will contribute towards climate amelioration by storing carbon for that number of years (25 to 30).
The Zero Hunger Campaign, which we intend launching in the Eastern Cape in October aimed at alleviating poverty in the rural areas and to stimulate the rural economy is centred on the following pillars:
- Ensuring access to food
- Improve nutrition security
- Public and private partnerships
- Food production at small households
- Market channels development
Trees and forests have a direct contribution towards ensuring access to food and food production at small households. This can be achieved through integration of trees into agricultural systems, through agroforestry practices. In addition, forests provide opportunities for small and micro enterprises through non-timber forest products. A number of small and micro enterprises that fall under this category include the following:
- Honey production: the department is supporting a number of projects jointly with the National Development Agency
- Mushrooms: Boletus mushrooms are highly sought after for export market. These grow in pine plantations that have been inoculated with mycorrhiza
- Medicinal plants; the department has recently finalised a strategy on medicinal plants
- Processing of indigenous fruits such as Marula.
The forestry industry, through the growers sector, provides an opportunity whereby timber that is grown will ultimately have access to the market. Government, through its afforestation strategy will endeavour to ensure honest brokering between the developers and beneficiary communities.
The improved infrastructure by forestry industry and government in areas with potential for afforestation also enhances access to markets.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
1 Sep 2011
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