Agri jobs boom in Western Cape despite crippling drought


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Despite the drought, more than 100 000 jobs have been added to the Western Cape’s agri-processing and agriculture sectors since the launch of the province’s Project Khulisa growth strategy in 2014.

Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde, the Western Cape government team that is driving the strategy and Wesgro this week delivered a mid-term update on Project Khulisa.

To achieve Project Khulisa’s target of adding 100 000 jobs to the agri-processing sector and growing the gross value add (GVA), three initiatives were identified: capturing a large share of the global halaal market for the Western Cape; increasing wine export to China and Angola and improving the production capacity for domestic and key strategic markets.

Winde said 127 497 jobs had been added to the agri-processing and agriculture sectors and GVA grew by R179 million.

“Wesgro’s agri-business unit has secured investments in excess of R1.4billion, exceeding its three-year target of R1.1bn. We’ve also seen wine exports to China growing 80%. We are now entering the third year of the drought, and these numbers are phenomenal against that background,” he added.

Towfiq Hendricks, portfolio manager at Wesgro Agribusiness, said the agency’s eight-year-old agri-investment unit had been successful, and it was clear that Wesgro’s work was having a real and positive impact in the province.

“In the past three years, the unit has secured R1.4bn in investment, creating 1 268 jobs in the Western Cape. Both of these were well above the targets set. There are also 26 exciting opportunities in the unit’s pipeline to the value of R1.5bn.

“The Western Cape has a wealth of opportunities in the sector and our message remains: the Western Cape and Cape Town are great places to invest.”

Winde said a key objective of the growth strategy was to expand access to the agri-processing and agriculture sectors.

“I am also especially pleased to announce that we’ve expanded access to the industry through transformation projects and support for emerging farmers.”

Winde said this included a supplier development programme targeting businesses in the halaal industry.

“An analysis of the halaal industry found that globally, $1.26trillion (R16.8trillion) is spent each year on halaal food, pharma and cosmetics.

“Of this about $250bn is imported across international borders. The Western Cape currently has a share of about 0.3% of this market.

“If the province captures 1% of global trade in halaal products and 1% of the global Muslim tourism market, it would add R56bn to the Western Cape economy.

“Since the launch of Project Khulisa, we have made significant progress in equipping our local industry to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Daryl Jacobs, deputy director-general of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture said they surveyed producers in the sector and expect an average decline in production of around 36.9%.





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