Today, Minister of Economic Opportunities Beverley Schäfer delivered the budgets for the 2019/20 financial year for Agriculture and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. These two departments are integral to achieving the goals of growing the economy and creating jobs in the Western Cape.
During both budget speeches, Minister Schäfer highlighted the need to create opportunities for young people in the economy, through job creation, and skills training.
“Nobody wins when the youth are unemployed. Young people with no access to economic opportunities start to depend on their ageing parents, family members or become reliant on the state for grants and assistance. On the other side of the coin, the potential and skills of millions of young, working-aged people, are lost to society,” she said.
Minister Schäfer also highlighted the importance of businesses and farmers investing in alternative energy sources like solar energy and the extreme impact of Eskom’s load shedding on the economy.
“The energy security risk, not only to job creation, but to sustain current employment cannot be overstated,” she said.
Highlights of the budget include:
- The most recent employment numbers released by Stats SA show that the agriculture and agri-processing sectors have started their recovery, adding about 35 000 jobs between the 3rd and 4th Quarter of 2018.
- Despite difficulties as a result of the drought, the sector showed resilience and in 2018/19 exports still increased by 1.4%. This sector is critical to the Western Cape economy and in the ten years between 2007 and 2017, agricultural exports increased from R20.9 billion to more than R63.8 billion in 2017.
- The agricultural sector produced 51% of all exported goods from this province and 45% of South Africa’s total agricultural exports come from this province.
- The Department of Agriculture has been allocated R911.131 million for the 2019/20 financial year.
- The bulk of this will be spent by the Farmer Support and Development programme, which will receive R315.655 million in the current year. Over R1 billion has been allocated to the promotion of successful land reform in the province over the next three years.
- Last year the Department of Agriculture received a total of R170 million towards fodder support efforts at adjusted estimate time. This is part of the departmental submission for drought support until September 2019.
- This year marks the end of the Jobs Fund’s commercialisation programme within the deciduous fruit sector. Over 210 ha of fruit has been planted since 2016 for black producers. Minister Schäfer will oversee the signing of the MOU’s with the industry partners tomorrow, for the continuation of the existing arrangements.
- The Provincial Veterinary Lab was the first veterinary lab in the country to attain SANAS accreditation as an ISO 17052 compliant laboratory. This has ensured international acceptance of lab results, and they have maintained the accreditation resulting in a more than 300% increase in requests for services. In addition, they have obtained accreditation for a rapid test for African Horse Sickness which means that test results are quicker and cheaper to obtain which will help with the growth of our province’s equine industry.
- The Western Cape and Cape Town will host the annual African Youth Agripreneur Forum and AgriPitch Competition between the 24th and the 28th of June. The theme of this year’s event is Climate Smart Agriculture: Business and Employment for Africa’s youth and the Western Cape Department of Agriculture will be partnering with the African Development Bank to host the conference which is open to young people from across the continent.
Economic Development and Tourism:
- R523.367 million will be spent in 2019/2020 with a focus on skills development, youth opportunities, the green economy, digital uptake, the rural economy and SMME support.
- DEDAT has allocated R196.555 million towards the coordination, facilitation and implementation of skills development initiatives over the next three years with a special focus on youth skills.
- Since 2010 the Western Cape has reduced youth unemployment by 2.2% and created 122 524 jobs for young people. By the fourth quarter of 2018, there were 3.9 million unemployed young people in the country, with 382 000 of these living in the Western Cape. If we include those young people not currently searching for work, these numbers rise to 6.2 million and 473 000 respectively.
- In the coming financial year, the Department will invest R11.2 million on the Work and Skills Programme.
- The Artisan Development Programme is designed to increase the number of people with technical and vocational skills in the Western Cape. For this purpose, an allocation of R12.2 million will be made available in 2019/20 to support over 300 apprentices at host companies to become qualified artisans.
- In the 2019/20 year, we will allocate R 1million to train 100 workers as mentors in order to support apprentices on the pathway to becoming qualified artisans.
- Another R1 million will help to assist workers use the recognition of prior learning toolkits developed by the department to be assessed and speed up their access to be trade tested.
- Minister Schafer announced a R30 million stimulus aimed at increasing support to SMMEs and developing the economies in mainly rural areas such as Bredasdorp, Clanwilliam, Hermanus, Riebeek West, Swellendam and Caledon.
- The SMME booster programme has been allocated R21 million to support approximately 100 township business and rural SMMEs in order to drive development and create jobs. This programme will focus on providing infrastructure support like trading and storage space to micro enterprises and identify women and youth owned businesses with high growth potential. It will also assist small businesses in distress as a result of resource shortages like water and electricity.
- In tourism, DEDAT will launch a programme to review all existing tourist safety related signage, starting with a pilot programme in a single region in the province. In addition, a structured tourism road signage training programme will be developed and training provided to tourism and municipal officials, starting with a pilot in one region this year.
- DEDAT is working to develop a database of tourist related crime and incidents across the Western Cape to track trends and enable DEDAT to focus their efforts based on factual data. The existing team of tourism safety officers will be further equipped with branded equipment and anti-theft backpack covers will be provided for tourists.