18 August 2014

South Africa: Land Bank to Drive Commercial Agriculture

Midrand — Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas has called for the Land Bank to drive commercial farming as it was fundamental for creating jobs in the country.

"We must also bear in mind that jobs in the agricultural sector, if you are to massify them it is only going to be by driving small scale agriculture, but largely growth and jobs will be driven by growing commercial agriculture in a very significant way," Deputy Minister Jonas said on Monday.

Speaking at the release of the Land Bank Annual Results, in Midrand, Deputy Minister Jonas said South Africa had huge arable land but commercial farming remained very low in some parts of the country.

"The question we must ask, in particular the institutions that are supposed to drive agriculture development, is what are the new instruments that we need to come up with to drive commercialisation of agriculture in those parts of the country.

"If you go back to the National Development Plan (NDP), ... it says we must peak and support commercial agriculture sector and support regions that have higher potentials for growth and employment in the agriculture sector," Deputy Minister Jonas said.

He said he might sound unpopular because all post independent countries tend to think solutions only lie in small scale farming.

"I think as a bank you must ensure that you drive twin programmes of driving commercial agriculture in a very rigorous way because that is crucial.

"At the same time you must ensure you create better support packages, better support systems for small scale farming, improve infrastructure and improving better access to markets for that sector," Deputy Minister Jonas said.

Delivering the Land Bank integrated financial report 2014, acting Chief Executive Officer Lindiwe Mdlalose said the bank contributed about R48.2 billion rand on the national GDP, which resulted in more than 23 000 jobs opportunities and more than 370 000 maintained jobs.

Mdlalose said the Land Bank was expecting to make a bigger impact on job creation, broadening of ownership, poverty alleviation and land reform.

She said the bank was committed to conducting its business in a responsible manner.

"The Land Bank had put development at the heart of its strategy as it had created the wholesale finance facility tailored for emerging farmers," Mdlalose said.

- SANews.gov.za

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