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WC to create over 100,000 jobs in agricultural sector

MEC Alan Winde identified job creation and expanding export routes as among the department’s top priorities.

Western Cape Finance MEC Alan Winde held a press conference to outline his budget on 5 March 2014. Picture: Graeme Raubenheimer/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape government has set a target to create more than a 100,000 jobs in the agricultural sector over the next five years.

Delivering his budget speech in the provincial legislature yesterday, Agriculture, Economic Opportunities and Tourism MEC, Alan Winde, identified job creation, expanding export routes and bailing-out struggling farmers as among the department's top priorities.

Winde said a further R109 million has been allocated to research into how to adequately prepare for the effects of climate change.

He unveiled an agriculture budget of around R787 million.

He says despite constraints on the fiscus, the department is sticking to its promise to support local farmers.

"We're also looking at different programmes within the department. We're looking at making sure conservation agriculture is support, research is supported so we can remain on a cutting edge."

A total of R259 million will be spent on land reform projects in the province.

Winde said additional support will also be given to the more than 4,000 emerging farmers over the next three years.

"It's very encouraging from a growth point of view - it's really looking good. The focus is on land and residue testing so we can export dairy products to Europe, Halaal products into countries in the Middle East. We're also looking at marketing and market approaches to get our wines into Africa and China."

At the same time, additional support will also be provided to grow agricultural exports from the current value R16.3 billion.