Amathole District Municipality Declared an Agriculture District (Mou sealed with Fort Cox College)
The Amathole District Municipality has been declared an agricultural district of the Eastern Cape Province. This was announced by the MEC for the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR ), Zoleka Capa, after Capa signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of Fort Cox Agriculture and Forestry with the Executive Mayor of Amathole District Municipality, Councillor Nomasikizi Konza. The signing took place during the ADM Agriculture Development Expo held at the College between 08 – 11 November 2012.
Signing the MOU, Capa said that if they do not recognise the efforts made by the farming community in this district, they will be failing their mandate of giving support to disadvantaged farmers. “The time has come for DRDAR to occupy its rightful place by supporting Fort Cox College and participating in IDP processes of ADM with regards to agricultural development,” she said.
Praising ADM’s commitment of utilising Fort Cox as the conference centre, Capa also affirmed the college as a suitable venue for strategic planning sessions and conferences for both DRDAR and ADM.
“This year DRDAR commits itself to facilitate renovations of the college to suit the events. We want less utilisation of well-established hotels when we are having events of this nature. We must put rural development into action and Fort Cox is a facility at our disposal,” Capa said.
She commended the partnership between the two institutions and deemed it a necessary stride that should have significant impact on all farming and forestry segments of society.
Capa cited the partnership as a step towards positive reflection on the processes of economic development in the Amathole District and the province at large.
“We need to invest in education and development of the farming community so we can have a collective output to benefit all people. Our municipalities in particular need to prioritise the budget for agricultural development and I take my hat off to the ADM for the support of its farmers,” she said.
In collaboration with the MOU, Capa said her department was ready to “explore the possibility of reviewing Fort Cox curriculum as to ensure its training adequately reflects the agricultural and forestry needs of the ADM farming community”.
Addressing ADM Agricultural Development stakeholders gathered at the Fort Cox College, ADM Executive Mayor Nomasikizi Konza pledged her commitment towards implementation of the contents of the MOU.
Konza also pledged to keep to the commitment and sternly pointed out that “lip service” has no place in her books.
“The time is now for us to ensure that the signing of the MOU does not become another forgotten document. We’ll do this by making sure that the recommendations are put into action,” she said.
Commitment By The ADM
Agriculture to be at the Centre of the ADM Rural Development Agenda
The Amathole District Municipality needs a paradigm shift in its approach towards agriculture in order to confront poverty head on and succeed.
So said Amathole District Municipality (ADM) Executive Mayor, Nomasikizi Konza, when addressing at the Annual Agriculture Expo at the Fort Cox Agricultural College in Middledrift, just outside Alice.
The two day Expo – held from the 7th until the 9th November 2012 – saw the farming community from the district coming together to discuss burning agricultural issues, networking and exhibiting their products.
“The current statistics that reflect the Amathole District imply that our people are going to bed hungry every night,” Konza said.
“If this is to be the year of action, then we must act now and act decisively to put agriculture at the centre of the rural development agenda,” she added.
Amongst issues discussed at the Expo are the challenges of sustainable farming; support for emerging farmers; climate changing conditions and their effect on the ADM’s emerging sector; and the standardising taxing system of all farmers.
Konza quoted the ADM socio-economic research findings which revealed that agriculture was only contributing three percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the district.
The findings also state that more than half of the ADM population is still categorised as poor, with an unemployment rate of over fifty percent.
“Given the determination by our government – nationally, provincially and locally – to be actively involved in this sector, and invest in the growth-enhancing sectors of the economy, we need to ensure that everybody understands the urgency and severity of the situation faced by our people,” she said.
“It is very clear that there must be change in how we do things.”
“Within the broad mandate of the ADM, we expect the development efforts of the ADM Agriculture Section to progressively influence market forces through a rural economy which is driven by dynamic agro-industrial communities supported by organised, self-reliant farmers that are fully engaged in profitable and sustainable agricultural businesses.”
“There needs a response to the challenges and bottlenecks facing all the stakeholders represented here and our Agri Plan and Programs have to change because the ones that we currently go by have been ineffective.”
“We must advocate and lobby for strategic partners to invest in small holder agriculture.”
Konza advocated that farmers needed training in financial management skills saying that the ADM “must tap into alternative high value market sectors like aqua culture and game farming”.
“Farmers cannot be confined in their expansion of a production base by experiencing challenges of water shortages when the ADM is a water service authority.”
“We must enhance our agricultural competitive advantage in order for us to be
Amongst the advantages and opportunities that the ADM had, she cited: Proximity to markets; Diversification of its products: Diversity (across agro-ecological zones); Telecommunications; Livestock; Crops; Forestry; Fishing; Food Processing; Leather and Goods.
“Rural development which is part of the five priorities of the ruling party, requires urgent attention to eradicate the high levels of inequality, unemployment and poverty in this country,” Konza said.