Today (2 December 2015), Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, delivered his mid-term budget speeches for the Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development and Tourism.
Allocations were made to respond swiftly to the most pressing needs in the agriculture sector and to projects which had the most potential for job creation.
In agriculture, Minister Winde announced the Western Cape Government’s drought relief assistance.
Minister Winde said farmers in the Central Karoo and the West Coast have been severely impacted by low rainfall.
“Early predictions suggest that around 40% of the normal yield will materialise. In a bid to minimise the economic impact of the drought, we have allocated just over R6 million for relief in this adjustment budget.
“This process is separate from the application for a disaster declaration the Western Cape Government has submitted to the National Government. We estimate that around R60 million will be needed in drought relief to assist farmers in the Central Karoo and the West Coast,” said Minister Winde in his speech.
Minister Winde outlined the application process for farmers.
“Currently a request for funding is being prepared for submission to the National Treasury, with the support of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. This allocation will determine the additional support we are able to offer farmers. We envisage it will mainly be used for the purchase of fodder for their animals.
“Depending on the conditions of the disaster aid scheme, this funding can be granted to us in a once-off payment or in instalments over a set period.
Farmers will be able to register for assistance with the Provincial Department and we will communicate these details as the process unfolds.”
Minister Winde also urged farmers to put their own contingency plans in place.
“Risk management is a critical element in every business, and we urge agri-businesses to prioritise this by making provision for the leaner years, during prosperous times.”
A further amount was allocated to eliminate the presence of Brucellosis at a farm in Beaufort West.
“As soon as it was detected, through routine inspection, the farm was placed under quarantine. Our vets are guiding the farmer to come to a solution in the best interests of the farming sector in the area, and are continuing a testing campaign on the farm. R1.9 million is being reallocated to managing the situation.
“I call on the farmer community to work with us in combatting animal diseases. We appeal to farmers to operate responsibly and to alert the vets in the event that they suspect their animals are ill.”
In Economic Development and Tourism, Minister Winde announced a R1 million investment into the further development of an Air Access strategy.
“Project Khulisa has set the goal of increasing the number of international arrivals from 1.5 million to 2 million each year. We’re on track to reaching this objective. Figures from the Cape Town International Airport show an average 11% increase in the number of international arrivals over the recent period. I have been told by a number of tourism establishments that they are nearly fully booked for this season. To further drive these increases, we have to make sure our destination is accessible. In this regard, direct flights are key to ensuring visitors are easily able to reach the Western Cape.”
Agri-processing and Oil and Gas were identified as another of Project Khulisa’s priority sectors and to support small businesses in these sectors, the Cape Capital Fund receives R3 million. Skills development, with a focus on developing artisans, was allocated R1.8 million