Briefing on a week-long visit to India

Capricorn District Municipality formed part of a delegation that undertook a week-long mission visit to India which took place from 9- 16 September 2014. The delegation comprised of the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, CDM Executive Mayor, MEC for Agriculture, other organs of State and representatives of the provincial government and farmers.

The purpose of the visit was to strengthen economic ties and improve trade and investment relations between the two countries; and four cities were visited in India – Mumbai, New Dehli, Dehra Dun and Surat. The main aim was to outline investment opportunities in the agricultural sector that could be of interest to the business community in India.

Some of the main issues we agreed on during that visit include a need to forge cooperation on agriculture, integrated human settlement development projects, manufacturing and coops including innovative technologies that have socio-economic impact in terms of job creation and business support especially  small and medium enterprises.

We have learned a lot about how they maximize the use of land; how they produce food; how they train and capacitate small farmers and agricultural co-ops to create jobs and grow the economy. These are important lessons, especially that in Capricorn, agriculture is one of the largest local economic sector which contributes an average of 7% per annum to employment and it is thus principal source of income for many households. Despite its sporadic dwindling phases, this sector has survived many adverse climatic and economic storms and still led many of our people out of the morass of poverty.

The main agricultural products produced within the District are citrus, potatoes, tomatoes, eggs, beef, pork and maize.  The District climate is conducive or has a potential for the most sought after Goa seed by the mining industry which is grown in India. In addition the District has thriving livestock farming.

It is our fervent view that there is therefore a huge potential to export some of these products to India. And that will go a long way in exploring the full potential of the various sectors and create more jobs, reduce the 37% unemployment rate in the district, fight poverty, ensure food security and expand productivity of food, irrigation development and industrialization of agriculture and manufacturing primarily – in line with the vision of NDP.

Now that we gained some lessons from interactions we had with Indian investor community and businesses, Capricorn District Municipality harness these to have effective and high impact to boost SMME’s in agriculture and manufacturing. And the participation of South Africa and India in BRICS gives us impetus and advantage to open a window of opportunity to expose these sectors to Indian investors and importers especially.

We are pleased that Small Farmers Agri-business and the manufacturers consortia in that country has indicated that they are open to the possibility of exchange learning programmes. The first visit is envisaged by the end of October this year.  This means that farmers who farm on a small scale would be empowered with Indian methods of crop and livestock farming.  This will also include other sectors in manufacturing.

As Capricorn District Municipality, we are ready to partner with the Department of Agriculture on agro-processing of potatoes and tomatoes in the district, especially in Molemole and Blouberg where potential in huge. We will also look into undertaking a site visit to Eastern Cape on the role of cooperatives in agriculture.

Ladies and gentlemen, economic growth and job creation are the cornerstones of our socio-economic development. The contribution of business in improving these elements is essential. We believe that partnership with India will help us grow the local economy and move Capricorn District forward.

We take this opportunity to thank the people of India for their friendship and for the endless support their government has provided us during our visit. Their hospitality and camaraderie was something to behold. It was similar to being at home, comforted in the knowledge that we were in the company of people, of friends, of partners who were keen to share and learn for the benefit of our mutual co-prosperity. We also thank the High Commission and the Consulate of South Africa in India for the initiative and facilitation of our trade and investment exploration mission.

–       ENDS –

For further inquiries contact Moffat Senyatsi at 082 417 2759 senyatsim@cdm.org.za

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