DA concerned about low job outputs of agro-processing

Ismail Obaray, MPL

DA Provincial Spokesperson of Agriculture

The DA is concerned that the Northern Cape Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform is not pulling its weight when it comes to stimulating economic growth in the province.

This comes after the department’s first quarterly report for 2014/15 revealed that zero new jobs were created through agro-processing and value adding industries. This is despite the department having set a target of 10 new jobs to be created for the period of April-June this year.

The department’s reason for its poor performance is that jobs are created seasonally depending on the production activities of the facilities. The DA, however, does not buy this excuse.

Unemployment is the most pressing challenge in the Northern Cape. At the same time, agricultural is a key job driver. Sustainable and higher economic growth rates in the Northern Cape therefore hinge on broadening economic activity across sectors identified in the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy (PGDS), such as agro processing. In other words, agro-processing should be at the forefront of job creating growth but in reality, it remains little more than a strategy on paper.

The DA is of the view that the department is guilty of not properly managing its projects. Other than creating temporary work opportunities through EPWP programmes, interventions of government to fight poverty and create work are simply not bearing fruit.

We call on provincial government to speed up strategic sector initiatives, such as agro-processing, that have the potential to improve the lives of our people. Our people have already waited 20 years for initiatives such as agro-processing to take off in the province, surely they can’t be expected to wait another 20 years until they can enjoy the opportunities that a thriving agro-processing sector can provide.