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Eastern Cape to focus on rural development

Written by Albert Pule
Developing the agricultural landscape of Eastern Cape and paying attention to previously neglected rural areas in the province is top priority for Premier Phumulo Masualle.

“During this term we are going to devise measures and strategies to tap on this potential to ensure the contribution of agriculture in improving the province’s economy, particularly the rural economy,” he said during his State of the Province Address.

The Eastern Cape government is prioritising rural development in the province.“….we are emerging from a legacy of severe neglect of our rural areas. However, through our priority on stimulating rural development, land reform and food security, we are resolute in reversing this legacy, and in making rural areas to become viable and sustainable communities,” added Masualle. Premier Masualle said one of the ways of stimulating this development is by ensuring that the right people benefit from government’s land redistribution programme.

“In keeping with the vision of the Freedom Charter, we are committed to ensuring that land is redistributed and shared equitably amongst those who work it, in order to banish famine and land hunger.”

Apart from redistributing land, the province is also implementing a Rural Development Strategy. The strategy is aimed at cultivating thousands of hectares of land between now and 2019.

“Our target is to cultivate 300 000 hectares by 2019. Over 17 503 hectares of land were ploughed in this year alone. This is against the 12 888 hectares of land which were ploughed over the past three years,” explained Premier Masualle.

The province’s feeding schemes have also helped feed many households.

“Over 12 395 households benefited from food security and nutrition initiatives such as Siyazondla, Letsima and homestead food gardens across the province.”

Premier Masualle added that rural agricultural infrastructure would receive attention from government to boost small-scale farmers.

“We are also going to improve investment in agriculture by developing more rural infrastructure in order to support the expansion of production and employment; small-scale farming and rural development.

“Key in this regard will be the building of infrastructure for processing agricultural products, including abattoirs, dairy infrastructure, aquaculture incubation schemes and rural tourism infrastructure,” he said.