Zokwana address youth at IFAMA symposium

It is indeed a privilege and honour for me (Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forstry and Fisheries’) and Deputy Minister Bheki Cele to be part of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) Symposium and Global Forum this week, and especially at your gala dinner tonight.

I am aware that this is the first time in the 25 year existence of IFAMA that the Symposium and Global Forum is held on the African continent. We therefore thank you sincerely, given our food security challenges and development needs, both in South Africa and also on the African continent, that you have brought this event to Africa. But as you are aware Africa and South Africa also provide vast opportunities, given its resource richness of people, land and water. It is thus especially your theme of ‘The Talent Factor – People feed the World’ that resonates with me. Your focus on the development of a broad range of skills necessary to produce food competitively and productively, as well as focus on the skills required to add effective value to primary produce in order to meet the nutritional, food safety and social food needs of the consumer, is sincerely appreciated.

On the economy:  “The low level of investments is a key constraint to economic growth. We are determined to work with the private sector to remove obstacles to investment. We would like to see the private sector showing as much confidence in the economy as the public sector”. The focus on the economy and the agriculture sector by government has been clearly indicated and it is the intention of government to work closer with private sector to create an enabling investment environment for entrepreneurs and the private sector. I also wish to add that it is also my goal, and the goal of this Ministry, to work closely with all stakeholders, however big or small.

More youth taking up agriculture

“I want to emphasise that our government is committed to creating employment in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors. We are also committing ourselves to finding innovative ways to attract youth and young people to the agriculture sector. Agriculture used to be considered an old man’s job. Today we see more and more young, prominent people taking up this important calling.” “Effective public–private dialogue and partnerships will be the key in driving the agricultural sector forward. While the private sector needs government support to address market failures, as well as a host of important public goods such as infrastructure,   Governments need information about the obstacles and opportunities that the private sector faces in order to design policy Interventions to address these constraints,” Zokwana said.

Government and the private sector, through Agbiz, will be participating in the Africa Agribusiness Forum at the Africa Union’s Heads of State Summit this weekend in Equatorial Guinea. Africa’s Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme, also known as CAADP, provides a good framework for private sector participation and investment in this sector. Many of the messages developed at the IFAMA Global Forum will be conveyed into this important meeting. To conclude, my sincere thanks and appreciation go to everyone and all institutions that have made this event possible, including the host organizations from South Africa, namely Agbiz and the Agribusiness Leadership School of the University of Stellenbosch, as well as the IFAMA Secretariat.

Palesa Mokomele Spokesperson of the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

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Energy focus, good for agriculture – Agri-SA

Agri-SA regards President Zuma’s State of the Nation address as an indication that government will focus more on the implementation of the existing National Development Plan. Agri-SA president Johannes Möller says the fact that Zuma had highlighted the economy as central focus point is extremely positive for agriculture. All ministers should take note of this, especially in light of the performance agreements that will be signed with the President.

In his speech, President Zuma elaborated on poverty relief, a reduction in existing inequalities and the high levels of unemployment. He acknowledged that these three challenges, which have for some time hampered economic progress in South Africa, can only be resolved through higher economic growth. According to Agri-SA, the problem can only really be addressed if rural economic growth occurs. It is estimated that the percentage of the population living in cities amounted to approximately 65% in 2013 and that this percentage was increasing annually by 1,2%. The need for sustainable food production by commercial agriculture is therefore non-negotiable, says Möller.

The agricultural sector was once again targeted as one of the sectors that must make a considerable contribution to job creation. President Zuma expects the sector to create one million additional jobs by 2030. The government will have to look seriously at the labour environment and the accompanying legislation that regulates it. It is clear from the lingering strike in the platinum sector that there are serious shortcomings in the labour environment. All these factors contribute to the low levels of investment in the South African economy, both locally and internationally, and to its recent down-grading by two international rating agencies.

“Agri-SA welcomes President Zuma’s reference to a more efficient energy sector, which will encourage growth,” says Möller. Agriculture and the rural environment can make a further contribution to energy generation, but only if the processes for small-scale energy generation are finalised. Agri-SA is also positive that shale-gas development, which has been identified as a game-changer, will be dealt with within existing environmental legislation.

According to Möller, the brief reference by the President to reopening of the land claims process was merely an acknowledgement of the process. The practical implementation thereof, however, remains a challenge and Agri SA will be closely involved in the process to ensure that land reform is implemented fairly and practically. Continued co-operation with Minister Nkwinti in this regard is crucial.

Möller says Agri-SA is committed to working with government and all the ministers concerned to improve national growth, to ensure food security and to facilitate the implementation of land reform on an economically viable basis to the benefit of all citizens of the country.

Issued by Agri SA, Directorate:  Corporate Liaison

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New plans for livestock imports from Namibia

The South African livestock industry will submit information on minimum structural and management requirements for the feedlots or abattoirs to the department, while the department will prescribe the contingency measures in cases of non-compliance of feedlots and abattoirs.

 

The South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ South African Veterinary Services, the Department of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s Namibian Veterinary Services, as well as the South African livestock industry met on 10 June 2014 to discuss matters relating to livestock imports from Namibia into South Africa. The meeting was facilitated by Dr Gideon Bruckner, a world renowned independent expert with international experience on matters relating to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and World Organisation on Animal Health (OIE).

The meeting resolved that the import requirements will be streamlined to facilitate trade while safe-guarding South Africa’s animal health status. The meeting determined that there will be a single Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which will cover cattle and sheep destined for slaughter purposes. For the purpose of the SOP, the term “slaughter purposes” is understood to include livestock intended for direct slaughter or for confinement to a feedlot before slaughtering.

During the discussions, it was resolved that there were certain substantive aspects which required further inputs and consideration from the South African Veterinary Services and the local livestock industry. Subsequent to refining the inputs from both parties, the SOP will further be consulted with the South African Provincial Veterinary Authorities. In summary, the following determinations were made at the meeting:

  • The department will consolidate the Standard Operating Procedure for feedlot and abattoir purposes into one SOP.
  • The department will reconvene a meeting to finalise the Standard Operating Procedure between all parties before the end of June 2014. The consolidated SOP will then be consulted with the provincial departments for concurrence.

Stakeholders expressed their committed to the process of finalising the SOP.

Ms Makenosi Maroo

Chief Director: DAFF Stakeholder Relations and Communications

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Red card for children toiling on farms

A global movement to end child labour is seeking to give a voice to about 168 child labourers around the world. The movement is encouraging individuals to join the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) 2014 edition of the Red Card to Child Labour campaign by signing up for our Thunderclap social media event.  

According to the organisation, all children have the right to enjoy their childhoods — to grow up in a loving environment, to play, to go to school, and to reach adulthood one step at a time. This is not the reality for an estimated 168 million child labourers worldwide who can be found toiling in sweatshops and mines, on construction sites and on farms.

Some are recruited as child soldiers, others as drug traffickers, some are sexually exploited. These children will never get the chance to make their own choices and thrive. It is unacceptable that millions of children today are trapped in this life.  On 12 June 2014, on the International World Day against Child Labour, the campaign will be launched worldwide with an original song, Til Everyone Can See, by Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger and violinist Ann Marie Simpson, with featured artists Travis Barker, Minh Dang, Dominic Lewis, LIZ, Pharrell Williams, and Hans Zimmer.

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New ministers engage Agri-SA

Mr Senzeni Zokwana, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and his deputy, Mr Bheki Cele, met representatives from organised agriculture in Pretoria as part of their introductory interactions with key stakeholders in the agriculture sector. The meeting marks the first series of engagements with stakeholders since the Ministers took over at the Department. One of the latest meetings was with the leadership of Agri-SA, one of the biggest industry players in the South African agriculture sector.

During the meeting, the parties agreed that close co-operation would be vital for the success of the sector. Agri-SA, which is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year, was represented by its President, Mr. Johannes Moller, its deputy-president, Mr. Phineas Gumede and its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Hannes van der Merwe.  Mr. Moller informed the meeting that Agri-SA is an organisation that has grown to represent commercial farmers in the country, big or small and regardless of race.  Agri-SA undertook to work with government and support the Minister and Deputy Minister in making sure that:

  • South Africa has a vibrant and growing agricultural sector that contributes significantly to job creation;
  • Farmers engage in sustainable production practices while striving for profitability;
  • Farmers contribute to growing the rural economy and impacting positively on food security.

The AgriSA delegation also informed the Ministers Zokwana and Cele that as an organisation, they advocate for South African farmers to keep producing in the country while they seek to expand their operations to other countries in the continent.  The Minister and Deputy Minister emphasised the importance of ensuring that food security remains at the apex of priorities for all involved in agriculture.  This was informed by the realisation that there are still millions of South Africans who still go to bed on hungry stomachs.  To this end, a call was made for the farmers to work with the department to ensure that the Integrated Food and Nutrition Security Policy is translated into actionable plans to attain the stated objectives of that policy. Mr. Gumede used the opportunity to thank the government for the financial and technical support provided to the cotton farmers at Makhathini Flats, where the cotton ginnery was again put to full operation after years of struggling.  He extended an invitation for the Ministers and the Director-General to visit the ginnery before the end of July 2014 when operations for the season will still be in full swing.

Palesa Mokomele Spokesperson of the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

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Africa ‘robbed’ of more than $50 billion annually

Lawyers in Africa must strike a balance between the interests of their clients and that of society, especially with regards to the illegal outflows of money from the continent, says former South African President Thabo Mbeki who heads the Economic Commission for Africa-African Union High-level Panel (HLP) on Illicit Financial Outflows from Africa.

Mbeki’s remarks came at the start of the Triennial General Assembly of the Pan African Lawyers’ Union (PALU) which took place in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital city. In his keynote address to the lawyers at assembly which focused on the theme “Financial flows from Africa: sealing the leaks, management and repatriation frozen assets,” Mbeki said lawyers must step into the breach to fight the outflows which is robbing the continent of crucial resources needed to help finance its development.

The former South African leader and Head of the HLP, was earlier received in audience, on behalf of Cameroon’s Head of State, by Prime Minister Philemon Yang, who opened the PALU triennial assembly, calling for a strong Yaoundé declaration by the lawyers against illegal money outflows from Africa.

Estimates show that Africa currently loses over 50 billion US dollars yearly to such outflows – an amount which surpasses the development aid the continent receives. The Mbeki panel noted in its preliminary observation that illegal financial outflows from Africa among others take the form of: kickbacks, corruption involving civil servants, criminal activity such as drug and money trafficking and money laundering; as well as fraudulent commercial transactions such as tax evasion, the distortion of money transfer charges and over-billing (especially by transnational firms).

The report of the Panel’s multiple fact-finding missions across and beyond Africa, is expected to be presented to the 23rd AU Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, from 20 to 27 June 2014.

Issued by: ECA External Communications and Media Relations

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