South African agricultural exports have been growing steadily over the last five years despite challenges including drought, bouts of food-and-mouth disease, and avian and swine flu over the same period.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana attributed the positive results to the collaborative work between the department's attachés, plant health, animal health, international trade directorates, as well as industry bodies.
"The work included the signing of a MoU and protocols by the Minister with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) member countries. We have seen exponential growth of exports with countries like Japan (46%) and we have gained market access for new products in countries like the USA, China, India, Philippines, etc," Zokwana said.
Zokwana highlighted these milestones during a service delivery forum held in Cape Town on Wednesday.
The forum brought together the public and private sectors and civil society to engage on how the sectors can contribute to the delivery agreement of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Achievements in Aquaculture Operation Phakisa Programme
Zokwana said since the launch of the Aquaculture Operation Phakisa Programme in 2014, various milestones were achieved in order to develop the aquaculture sector.
"The DAFF has registered 35 Phakisa projects and identified eight Aquaculture Development Zones (ADZ) throughout the country. These zones will be dedicated for aquaculture development with the aim of creating an enabling environment and facilitating investment.
"In 2018, more than 4 000 tons were farmed by the 35 projects and the total employment was 1 943 jobs. During the period of 2017/18 the projected additional investment was R616 million of which R236 million was from government and R379 million was from the private sector," Zokwana said.
In terms of skills and capacity building, five State veterinarians were trained at Stirling University on fish health, which is a scarce skill in South Africa.
Zokwana said since the amendment of the Marine Living Resources Act in 2014, which formally recognised the previously marginalised small-scale fishers in South Africa, the department has commenced with a small-scale fisheries program, whose aim is to establish a new small-scale fishery throughout coastal communities.
The initiative, according to the Minister, has seen over 10 000 individual traditional fishers being recognised as small-scale fishers for the first time in South African history.
He said over 200 communities in the four coastal provinces will now be able to access marine resources legally for the purpose of participating in the ocean economy and for food security.
"During 2018, government allocated the first 15-year fishing rights to Port Nolloth and Honderklipbaai in the Northern Cape, where a total of 103 individually recognised small-scale fishers have been assisted to register two co-operatives for the purpose of receiving economically sustainable 15-year fishing rights. This will benefit the broader community of the Northern Cape," the Minister said.
For 2019, Zokwana announced that government is in the process of finalising the allocation of 15-year fishing rights to 75 registered co-operatives.
The co-operatives comprise 5 335 small-scale fishers in Eastern Cape; 45 registered co-operatives made up of 2 184 small-scale fishers in KwaZulu-Natal and co-operatives that will include over 2 500 small-scale fishers in the Western Cape.
Fishing rights allocation appeals finalised
Meanwhile, Zokwana announced that the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) 2015/2016, appeals process has been finalised, with the exception of Horse Mackerel, which is expected to be completed shortly.
The department has also started the process of revising policies and application forms for 12 sectors, whose rights expire in 2020.