The Inclusive Society Institute has embarked on an extensive economic research project, which will culminate in a comprehensive ‘Blueprint for rejuvenating South Africa’s economy’. The methodology includes a series of dialogues with various sectoral stakeholders and policymakers. These dialogues each have two parts to them:
Gaining an understanding from the particular sectors perspective as to what the country needs to correct policy wise
What new initiatives / policies should be introduced to shift the economy onto a higher growth trajectory.
This dialogue with the agricultural sector was held on Tuesday, 1 March 2022. Some key points raised included, amongst others:
Insufficient and deteriorating infrastructure was impeding development within the agricultural sector, especially as it relates to getting produce to markets. The great international potential was particularly vulnerable. Unreliable electricity supply was of specific concern.
Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) needs to be embraced. This would, for example, help with the rapid development of current insufficient veterinary services.
South African farmers receive little to no subsidies, as opposed to generous regimes abroad. This impacts the competitiveness of South African farmers.
Vulnerable telecommunication infrastructure stands in the way of new data technologies that could enhance agricultural performance.
The agricultural colleges need to be re-thought, re-jigged, and re-equipped, so as to ensure a pipeline of technically proficient workers in the agricultural sector.
There is a need to assess the impact of mining on good agricultural land and water resources.
Only half of animals are in the hands of commercial farmers. Fifty percent of animals from subsistence farm, provide only ten percent of protein on the table. They are also not geared to participate in sector, for example, the need for health and source tracking technology.
Inadequate vaccine manufacturing in South Africa, and slow, complex and ineffective vaccine registration procedures and timelines.
Government departments tend to be insular, working within silos. Greater cooperation and synergies need to be developed.
The private sector stands ready to work with and help government. They feel they have the answers, but have to fight for access and acceptance every step of the way.
A full report on the deliberations will be released in due course.