It’s all systems go for the implementation of agri-parks in the North West province.
This after the recentvisit by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti and the North West MEC for Rural Environmental and Agricultural Development, Manketsi Tlhape, to the agri-park at Springbokpan.
The visit was to assess the state of readiness of the Springbokpan silos. The Silo is being refurbished as part of the establishment of agri-parks in the province.
Three agri-parks have been identified for the North West province which are Springbokpan, Moretele and Vryburg.
Economically viable sites in all 27 priority districts have been identified across the country for the construction of agri-parks and R2 billion has been made available for the agri-park initiative, of which 1% will go into capacity building especially in municipalities.
The establishment of the agri-parks follows a pronouncement by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation address earlier this year when he committed government to promoting agri-parks and transforming rural economies.
Springbokpan agri-parks will consist of Milling (starch and animal), mechanization warehouse, input warehouse as well as Foodbank.
In its essence, the creation of agri-parks will assist the province with amongst others, to contribute to its earmarked 6% economic growth with the Department of Rural Environmental and Agricultural Development being one of the leaders.
It is also meant to ensure job creation, generate revenue as well as to empower women and youth. It is envisaged to attract investment in both domestic and international fund markets and ensure food security in rural households and revival of food gardens in rural areas.
The agri-parks will also implement sub sector operator model to enforce clustering and processing thereby creating market access.
Elaborating on the agri-park concept, MEC Tlhape said the initiative is meant to support farmers.
She said it is important for farmers to be hands-on on the initiative.
The MEC said the farmers have the task of producing what would be in the Silos.
MEC Tlhape said government is still to decide on the percentage that farmers are to contribute to the silos.
“It is therefore up to the farmers to ensure that the agri-parks concept lives,” she said.
Minister Nkwinti spoke eagerly on this national government initiative, adding that the concept is ready for implementation and should therefore go ahead.
The Minister also echoed MEC Tlhape’s sentiments that farmers should be part of the initiative.
He emphasised the need for communities in the North West to ensure that every land is productive.
“If we have a productive land then our Silos would fulfil their purpose,” he said.
The Minister also announced government’s plan for the producers to own 70% of the agri-parks. The remaining 30% will be for government and other contributors.
Minister Nkwinti reiterated that it was important for government to look into the existing infrastructure hence the refurbishment at Springbokpan.
Morule, one of the Ngaka Modiri Molema District farmers, was excited about the agri-park initiative and urged other farmers to embrace it.
He said he was happy that government was now leading them in a way they had always wanted. He said the resuscitation of the silos was long overdue.
With the progress made on the Springbokpan agri-park, Minister Nkwinti was confident that the national launch led by President Jacob Zuma would be hosted by the North West province.