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SONA 2019 Agriculture deserves the combined support of government

Agri SA looks forward to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA). The message from Agri SA is simple: agriculture requires the combined support of all government departments. Agriculture is the best placed sector to focus government’s energies for two important reasons:

1. The sector is under enormous strain due to drought, policy uncertainty and safety concerns
2. The social return on investment into agriculture will be enormous – national priorities such as transformation, job creation, food security, economic growth and social stability can be achieved the most effective by investing state resources into agriculture
“To govern is to prioritise, and support to agriculture will quickly benefit all other sectors of the economy,” said Omri van Zyl, Agri SA Executive Director. “In this election year, let the message from government be clear that broad support to sustainable and dynamic agriculture will be a top priority.”

Agri SA will look to the following elements in the SONA 2019:

• Expropriation Bill: The recently published Bill contains several vaguely defined phrases such as "abandoned land" and land held for "speculative purposes" for possible expropriation at nil compensation. These should be clarified. Agri SA stands by the generally accepted international standard of prompt, adequate and effective compensation.
Agri SA request: Instruct the Department of Public Works to offer policy certainty by thoroughly defining clauses that allow for EWC.

• Drought crises: The continued drought conditions in the majority of rural areas poses significant risks to job creation and food security.
Agri SA request: Expedited drought assistance is now the only viable option.

• Water reform: Policy uncertainty and ineffective governance of South Africa’s water resources and infrastructure is cause for great concern to the agricultural sector in South Africa.
Agri SA request: Prioritise the functional capacity of the Department of Water and Sanitation in order to effectively implement water legislation and policy.

• Rural safety: Agri SA congratulates the SAPS for improving its rural safety initiative by among others the formulation of the rural safety strategy which Agri SA trusts to be released this year.
Agri SA request: The policy promises excellent outcomes and should be properly implemented and financed.

• Transformation: Agrarian reform has been stifled by a lack of funding and proper skills transfer.
Agri SA request: An Agriculture Development Fund must be found and properly financed.

• National Minimum Wage: Through Agri SA’s appointment to the National Minimum Wage Commission, Agri SA will keep a close eye on the implementation of the NMW Act and the effect it will have on the agricultural sector in terms of job creation.
Agri SA request: To give proper consideration to the commission’s recommendations and give attention to the practical aspects.

“We wish the best of luck to President Ramaphosa in the SONA speech. We are well aware of the different pressures bearing down but hope and pray that he will be able to steer South Africa towards greater stability and economic inclusion in 2019.”

Agri SA has five dedicated Centres of Excellence which focus on the policy areas Land, Labour and Development, Natural Resources, Rural Safety and Economics and Trade. The officials will continue to advocate for supportive and transformative policy outcomes.

Omri van Zyl
Agri SA Executive Director
(C) 082 417 5724