Cape Wine 2012 welcome speech by Western Cape MEC of Agriculture, Gerrit van Rensburg
25 Sep 2012
Ladies and gentlemen, international visitors and members of the press, allow me to welcome you to Cape Wine 2012. And especially to our international visitors: Welcome to South Africa, welcome to the Western Cape Province, Welcome to Cape Town.
Ladies and gentlemen: The South African wine industry has a rich and colourful heritage. It stretches back to the arrival of the French Huguenots in the 17th century. And I want to invite all our international guests to go out on our wine routes and visit our historic, as well as our modern wine farms and cellars.
This historic industry is of vital importance to the Western Cape. The wine industry is a major economic driver in our province. Currently 3 600 farmers cultivate more than 100 000 hectares of vines. Approximately 275 600 people are employed both directly and indirectly in the wine industry.
It is the underlying belief of this Provincial Government that social progress is driven by economic growth. And it is my belief that a healthy economy is anchored in a healthy agricultural sector. The wine industry is fundamental to the Western Cape’s ability to grow and offer better opportunities to all its citizens.
The Western Cape Government needs the wine industry to be successful. And if there are any potential international investors attending this show, I also want to invite you, on behalf of the Western Cape Government, to engage with us. We want to extend a red carpet to you for your business, and not the red tape that so often prevents new business from happening.
Ladies and gentlemen, I think if we were to look into the past, we see a wine industry focusing on making wine. There was a time in our history when the focus was on producing volume. We exported to only a few markets in the European Union.
What do we see when we look at the current status of our wine industry? What does the future hold for our wine industry? I think we see a wine industry focusing on making excellent wine. But with the additional focus points of the environment as well as its impact on society.
The modern South African wine industry has much to offer and much to be proud of:
- We are growing our export volumes
- We are exporting to new markets
- We are seeing many new young and talented wine makers.
- We are making new and exciting wines to complement the old and traditional styles.
Regarding the environment:
Climate change is set to make most parts of our province hotter and drier. Rainfall and hot spells are predicted to be more intense. There will be a higher incidence of flooding and droughts. We need to take better care of our natural resources in order to farm on a sustainable base. I want to congratulate the South African wine industry for work done in this regard. The industry’s Biodiversity and Wine Initiative Programme will help to safeguard and protect our valuable natural resources for our future generations.
My department, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, is currently implementing river rehabilitation projects on our two major river courses (Berg and Breede Rivers). Aliens are removed and indigenous plants are re-established.
This will release more water for agriculture. It will also prevent riparian damage during flooding. This is very expensive and time consuming work. It will only be successful if done together with the riparian land owners who are tasked with the responsibility to maintain the rehabilitated river banks on their properties.
Issues of ethical practices on our farms are receiving much attention from governments as well as the global wine industry. I am passionate about the social aspect on our farms, and the wellbeing of our farm workers is of great importance to me.
I therefore want to congratulate the industry with its ethical seal issued by WIETA. It is my wish to see all wine farms subscribing to an ethical code regarding its social responsibility.
We also have a Provincial Farm Worker of the year competition in the Western Cape. This year we have more than 1 000 entrants from 16 regions. This year’s winner will receive more than R100 000 at our gala event in November, also here in the Cape Town Convention Centre. The winner joins my Prestige Farm Worker Forum, and advises me on farm worker issues. The wine industry has been very supportive towards our Farm Worker Competition over the past ten years. Thank you very much.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to conclude: It is my wish that Cape Wine 2012 will be a satisfying and rewarding experience to each and every one attending. If you are a first-time visitor to the Cape, it is my wish that you will return home an ambassador for our region and our wine industry. It is through positive actions and interventions that we improve the world we live in. Let us work together: Government together with the wine community. Let us work together for a future filled with good opportunities and good wine.
Issued by: Western Cape Agriculture and Rural Development
25 Sep 2012
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