Agriculture will be the game-changer for the Eastern Cape’s economy, while also cementing the province as the breadbasket of South Africa. This is Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane’s vision for the agricultural sector in the Eastern Cape.
He shared this vision with farmers, academics and a wide range of delegates at the Boardwalk Convention Centre in Port Elizabeth. Qoboshiyane was speaking at the opening of the 50th congress for the South African Society of Animal Science (Sasas), which started yesterday (18 September) and ends on Thursday.
The congress, which attracted delegates from all over Africa and even as far afield as the US, will centre around innovations aimed at developing sustainable growth in the agriculture sector, more specifically livestock.
Qoboshiyane highlighted the importance of this congress taking place in Port Elizabeth, as the Eastern Cape was the country’s front-runner in livestock numbers. “With 3.2 million heads of cattle, 7.3 million sheep and 2.2 million goats, the Eastern Cape have the highest numbers of all nine provinces in these livestock,” he said.
“Unlike other provinces with huge mineral resources, the Eastern Cape is endowed with little or no natural resources. “However, our province is rural and has large communal and well-established commercial farming sectors that my department serves. “Therefore, our focus on agriculture is logical, if not naturally determined.”
The Eastern Cape’s mohair industry produces more than 50% of the world’s mohair, while the local wool industry is responsible for 34% of South Africa’s total wool production.
Qoboshiyane also mentioned the meat industry, citrus and dairy, as well as ongoing developments in aquaculture and the oceans economy, as crucial contributors to the province’s economic growth.
“Agriculture is the most important industry each country has, and South Africa is no exception,” he said. “Agriculture contributed to pulling our nation’s economy from a recession onto a positive trajectory during the last quarter, and I thank you for that.
In light of recent reports, Qoboshiyane touched on the concerns of avian flu, which was confirmed at a farm near Uitenhage, and said strict biosecurity measures had to be put in place to contain the disease.
He also said the recent drought has had a negative impact on livestock.
He again stressed the importance of the Sasas congress to assist in developing and advancing animal production despite the challenges facing the agriculture sector.Discover More