Agriculture Master Plan is ripe for implementation

May 2023 marked a year since South Africa's Agriculture and Agro-processing Masterplan was completed and launched. This plan offers the government and the private sector framework to grow the sector, build competitiveness, attract more investment, improve inclusion, and create jobs. This year should mark the start of the implementation phase. But progress so far remains limited, as the focus shifted to energy security at the beginning of the year because of the intensified load-shedding. With various interventions such as the load-curtailment, extension of diesel rebate, and Agro-Energy Fund under implementation, the sector should refocus its attention on the Agriculture and Agro-processing Masterplan and explore means of implementation. Admittedly, the operating environment in the sector is more challenging than when the plan was drafted. Still, neglecting or delaying implementation will only allow the present challenges to worsen. The growth constraints such as biosecurity, infrastructure, widening of export markets, registration of new crop protection chemicals, and various commodity-specific and regionalized plans are some of the aspects that the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan reflected on. Notably, the broad sector support behind the plan could wane over time if the implementation is slow, and we may again find ourselves with another "good on paper but not implemented plan". Getting out of this state of inertia requires the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to reconvene the social partners with an implementation proposal at hand to propose. We discuss more in this week's podcast segment. My writing on agricultural economic matters are available on my blog:

Published: 05 June 2023