Welcome to the first tri annual agricultural summit hosted by the Western Cape Government for the Western Cape agricultural sector. The past two years saw Government interact with the sector through our Cabinet-meets-Agriculture events. All cabinet ministers makes themselves available on these occasions in order to gain firsthand experience as to the impact their respective departments have on the agricultural community. Cabinet meets agriculture creates a platform to voice issues of concern, but also to identify the correct people from the sector as well as government who can solve the challenges.
This summit will be different. We are going to engage on a strategic level on the future of the sector. Where do we want to go with the agricultural sector?
When planning for the future, one should act in the same manner as a talented rugby player, and not like a second team player. A second team player is always running to where the ball is now. He is therefore always just too late. He is always trying to catch up with where the real game is happening. He will never influence the direction of the game. A first team player has developed the sense of knowing or feeling where the ball is going to be. He can then position himself accordingly. In agricultural terms, we need to position ourselves.
We need to ask questions about the crops we cultivate and the markets we export to. We need to ask questions on climate change and the possible impact it might have on our current and future crops. We need to ask questions about the future of land reform and the development of our new farmers.
As a Department of Agriculture, we have set ourselves a few targets:
- Support 10% agricultural growth over the next 10 years.
- Maintain our global export market position.
- Create an enabling environment for business to thrive in rural areas.
- Ensure that at least 60% of our land reform projects are sustainable.
We need to discuss these targets and get feedback from the sector on whether these are in fact the correct targets for now and if these targets will help us to be in the right place at the right time in the future.
Ladies and gentlemen, the work that will take place over the next two days is framed within the Western Cape Government’s philosophy which dictates that government creates an enabling environment for business to operate in. Government does not do well in business. But the Western Cape Government also beliefs in doing things “better together”.
We want to work with the agricultural sector and we want to clear hurdles out of your way. We do not want to put more unnecessary hurdles in your way. Good communication between the sector and government will greatly assist in this process.
It is now a pleasure for me to introduce Premier Helen Zille to you.