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by Melissa Britz
Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2012 at 2:21 PM
Can Califorina Pan African Trade and Commerce quantify and expand job creation and economic development? The South African effort in California is worthy of support.
3rd_pan_african_global_trade_and_investment_conference.jpg, image/jpeg, 480x350
Cape Town — While small-scale agriculture has been earmarked by the South African government as a sector with the potential to create jobs and stimulate economic growth, small-scale farmers often lack the financial support and skills to run a profitable farming operation.
One success story presented at the recent "Strategies to Overcome Poverty and Inequality" conference was that of Amadlelo Agri. The initiative began in 2004 with commercial dairy farmers in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal provinces of South Africa.
"Amadlelo was formed by white commercial farmers to drive transformation of agriculture in South Africa," says Jeff Every of Amadlelo. "The whole premise was that we had to increase the slice of the cake to make a difference to unemployment. Not just change ownership of agriculture from white people to black people which wouldn't increase employment necessarily".
The project selects and trains black farmers together with the University of Fort Hare by offering experiential training with highly successful farmers to ensure the transfer of skills. Amadlelo also received support from the Eastern Cape Department of Agriculture and the Land Bank.
"Government doesn't run businesses very well and so it was important for us who knew how to run businesses to come forward and say we'll take hands with government on one side and communities on the other in a true partnership", Every adds.
The Fort Hare Dairy Trust and the Middledrift Dairy Farm are two examples of successful commercial operations that also serve as a training ground for future farmers. But Every says that dairy farming is not a major employer.
"Dairy doesn't employ a lot of people but the spin-offs from the dairy project being successful is to incorporate labour intensive products, and different production methods that need a lot of labour. So we are looking at things like intensive vegetable production".
While Every agrees that agriculture can contribute significantly to reducing unemployment, he notes that it's important be able to run a globally competitive enterprise.
"We need to shape all our legislation from labour legislation through to all the enabling factors that government can give us to ensure that we can compete globally, employ our people and give them a future".
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