Lizeka Tandwa, News24
President Jacob Zuma said the apartheid spatial exclusion of rural areas still mars our landscape today.
True to form, Zuma sang and danced to favourites including Umshini Wami and Freedom Day shortly after his keynote address.
Unfazed by the march planned for Wednesday by opposition parties, Zuma was jubilant, joking and laughing with ministers.
Shortly before he was scheduled to make his grand entrance with ministers and loyal supporters Nomvula Mokonyane and Des van Rooyen beside him, the crowd welcomed him with a rendition of Zuma my President.
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The programme director and West Rand Acting Mayor David Molebatse urged the crowd to shout “Zuma” ten times when the president made his appearance.
The president’s famous chuckle often drove the crowd to cheer and ululate during his speech.
Zuma said government had taken a conscious decision to revitalise the agricultural sector.
He said the Agri-Parks Programme was part of its drive to radically transform the country’s economy by bringing millions of African people into productive activity and ownership within the mainstream economy.
“We look up to this sector to create more jobs for our people.”
145 000 jobs
An agri-park is a networked innovation system of agro-production, processing, logistics, marketing, training and extension services, located in district municipalities, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform said.
Zuma said government plans on bringing 300 000 new small-hold farmers into the agricultural sector, creating 145 000 agro-processing jobs, through the programme.
“It is also aimed at bringing one million hectares of land into production. It is therefore a very important programme for government and the people.”
Zuma said the programme also sought to ensure that farmers own 70% of wealth created through it.
The programme, to be rolled throughout the 44 districts of the country, is also intended to integrate small informal sector farmers into the mainstream economy.
“For far too long small-holder farmers, in particular black farmers, have been strictly confined to economic participation in the informal sector with the focus on primary agriculture, while large commercial farmers are operating within the formal economy footprint right along the value chain. We are working to change this situation and bring about much needed transformation,” said Zuma.