Land Bank praised for its R1bn pledge

THE Land Bank's commitment to spend about R1 billion on emerging farmers over the next two years could unlock agriculture's long-term potential growth, the Institute for Democracy in SA said

"It was consistent with the South African government's intention of mainstreaming agricultural sectoral growth in the New Growth Path Strategy," Idasa's Small-scale Agriculture Project said in a statement.

Project manager Leslie Nyagah said the money would promote rural employment, build value chains and encourage investment in agricultural capacity through skills training and growth in infrastructure.

"Increasing medium- and long-term fiscal incentives that encourage skills transfer, capacity building and long-term mentoring of emerging black farmers is not only necessary for empowering South African citizens but is also required for the broader economic recovery of the country," Nyagah said.

He said, however, that in the first quarter of 2011, statistics showed agriculture's contribution to gross domestic product in South Africa slowed to -2,6 percent. "This was opposed to the robust growth of the manufacturing sector of 14,5 percent during the same period, reflecting an economy that is increasingly becoming dependent on manufacturing and services," he said.

The Idasa project promotes small-scale agriculture and aims to find solutions to global developmental concerns such as high food prices and high unemployment rates, especially among the youth.