The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in South Africa is working on introducing a dedicated agro-processing incentive aimed at attracting investment, DTI Minister Rob Davies says.
“This sector is critical because of its labour intensity across the value chain and its high economic multipliers, especially with respect to exports. The incentive will contain strong conditionalities, including with respect to labour practices and empowerment,” says Minister Davies.
The Minister addressed the Manufacturing Indaba in the Western Cape, South Africa. The indaba brings together the country’s industrial movers and shakers with the intent of focusing on and boosting the growth potential of key industry sectors including automotive, construction, forestry and paper and packaging, among others.
Davies says the manufacturing sector and diversification of the economy is a key driver to attaining South Africa’s economic growth objectives.
“We all know that the performance of our economy has been flat, but we were saved by the second-quarter gross domestic product manufacturing statistics. That was mainly through the implementation of a transparent localisation policy that we have developed and this result also demonstrates that manufacturing and diversification of our economy is highly critical if we are to achieve our economic strategic objectives,” says the Minister.
Minister Davies says the largest parts of international trade were mainly focused on intermediate products.
“By the early 2000s, domestic boatbuilding capabilities had hollowed out, with the exception of the luxury yachting sector. Government introduced a stronger industrial financing instrument and boats were designated for local procurement. The sector is now witnessing the crowding-in of private sector funding and capabilities to meet demand both locally and internationally.”
The success of Nautic Africa (a shipbuilder and maritime services provider) now part of the Paramount group and Damen are testament to what can be achieved, Minister Davies said, adding that effort has also gone into the clothing and textile clusters in the last decade in the Cape.
“National government has deployed significant incentives to support, among others, companies in this sector in the province. We have injected R2bn incentives over the last five years to support the industry and successfully raise productivity and competitiveness,” says the Minister.
The MEC responsible for Economic Development and Tourism in the Western Cape, Alan Winde, said the conference focused specifically on agro-processing and oil and gas as they had demonstrated themselves to be key drivers that promote manufacturing.
“We have given ourselves a target of enabling 60,000 jobs in oil and gas at Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone. We are also doing work on skills, energy and for the removing of administrative red tape that hampers the flow of business,” said MEC Winde.
He said the Western Cape had set itself a target of producing 32,500 apprentices in the next three-years to work in the energy space and pleaded with delegates to make use of the unit established in his office to remove red tape.
The latest news from Paris is cautiously optimistic that we will have an agreement by Friday. What does it mean for agriculture and food security? Although the French government has shown great leadership championing agriculture at COP21, it is not yet really on the table for the negotiators.
The good (and surprising) news comes from the commitments the countries have submitted. A recent CGIAR analysis of the first 150 country climate commitments (INDCs) submitted ahead of the UN climate talks revealed that countries appear to prioritize agriculture more than the negotiations have. 80% of commitments included agriculture in mitigation targets, and 64% included agriculture in adaptation strategies. Willingness to address agriculture and food security finally appears to be having some impact.
As Tim Grooser, Climate Minister of New Zealand put it: “After many years of banging my head on a brick wall, trying to get attention for agriculture in UNFCCC, we are finally being heard”. While this is unlikely to have a big impact on the result in Paris on Friday – it paves the way for more progress to be made in Marrakech at COP22, next year, via scientific (SBSTA) meetings held in Bonn in June 2016.
4 pour mille – solutions in soil
One of the most promising new ideas at the Paris climate talks so far, is the French government’s “4 pour mille” initiative. The name 4 pour mille (or 0.4%) refers to the annual increase in soil carbon, which would offset atmospheric carbon emissions. As the carbon reservoir in the soil is two to three times larger than all the carbon in the atmosphere, the initiative focuses attention on the huge potential agriculture has to become a critical part of climate change solutions. Agriculture and forestry alone can capture carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, and sequester it in the soil.
Increasing soil carbon not only mitigates climate change, it also increases – or restores – soil health and fertility, thereby helping agriculture to adapt to climate change and improve environmental health overall. Yields will go up, farms will be more resilient, and emissions will be reduced as a co-benefit.
The private sector has made commitments in Paris aswell. A coalition of companies joined together under the umbrella of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to focus on low carbon agriculture solutions. Monsanto has announced that its operations will be carbon neutral by 2021, in just 5 years. John Bryant, the CEO of Kelloggs, went a step further in Paris by not only committing to carbon neutrality for its own operations, but also to work with farmers in its supply chains to make half a million farmers climate smart.
A proposal for the developing world
In Paris CGIAR announced a $225 million proposal that would take climate smart agriculture and 4 pour mille to seven developing countries: Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, Nepal and Colombia. Farmers will co-develop and share widely climate-smart interventions that boost the levels of carbon captured in soils, such as conservation agriculture, agroforestry and improved forage systems. In those seven countries we estimate that farmers would be able to improve their agricultural yields by 20% and offset greenhouse gas emissions by 15% or 25 megatonnes of CO2e.
This will contribute to CGIAR’s own commitments to work, with partners, to reduce agriculture related emissions by 0.8 Gigaton, or 15%, by 2030, restore 190 million hectares of degraded land, save 7.5 million ha of forest from deforestation, and increase water and nutrient efficiency by 20%.