1. Where does the concept of Agri-park originate and why are they important for rural development?
The concept for Agri-park draws from existing models both, locally and abroad, including educational/experimental farms, collective farming, farmer-incubator projects, agri-clusters, eco-villages, and urban-edge allotments and market gardens.
These models may exist on both public and private lands. Agri-parks can serve as transition zones between urban and agricultural uses.
The term evokes the traditional model of an agricultural business park or hub, where multiple tenants and owners operate under a common management structure.
Agri-parks provide networks of contacts between producers, markets and processors, but also provide the physical infrastructure required for the transforming industries.
The focus of the Agri-park is primarily the processing of 'agricultural products' (and the mix of 'non-agricultural' industries may be low or non-existent). Of prime importance will be linkages between the parks and surrounding agricultural land for production;
The Agri-park approach will include the selection and training of smallholder farmers, as well as selecting farms per province for the placement, incubation and training of unemployed agricultural graduates and other agro-entrepreneurs
The Agri-Park Programme forms part of Government's undertaking to review all land reform policies as enunciated in the 2011 Green Paper on Land Reform and the support that needs to be provided;
The model will have a strong social mobilisation component so that black farmers and agri-business entrepreneurs are actively mobilised and organised to support this initiative.
The DRDLR's strategic partnerships with key government departments such as the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Departments of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation and other spheres of govt.
State land will be used for both production and processing (the 25 state farms per Province, linked to the DRDLR's Animal and Veld Management Programme).
What are the strategic objectives of Agri-parks?
- Establish Agri-Parks in all of South Africa's District Municipalities that will kick start the Rural Economic Transformation for these rural regions;
- Promote growth of the smallholder sector by ccontributing to the 300 000 new small-scale producers, as well as to the 145 000 new jobs in agro-processing by the year 2020 (as set out in the NGP);
- Promote the skills of and support to small-holder farmers through the provision of capacity building, mentorship, farm infrastructure, extension services, production inputs and mechanization inputs;
- Enable producer ownership of the majority of Agri-Parks equity (70%), with the state and commercial interests holding minority shares (30%);
- Bring under-utilized land (especially in Communal Areas Land and land reform farms) into full production over the next three years, and expand irrigated agriculture; and
- Contribute to achievement of the NDP's "inclusive rural economy" and target of 1 million jobs created in agriculture sector through creating higher demand for raw agricultural produce, primary and ancillary inputs, as well as generating increased downstream economic activities in the sector