Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha plans to use agriculture, tourism, and mining to fight poverty and boost the economy.
The largest employers in the province, according to Mathabatha, were community and social services, trade and construction, agriculture, mining, tourism and the private sector.
Mathabatha was speaking during the State of the Province Address in Lebowakgomo at the weekend. He said the current unemployment rate in the province was 18.5%. In an endeavour to boost the economy and stimulate growth, his government had decided to place young people at the centre of the economic development programme.
“We have taken a decision that 20% of state procurement should go to youth-owned enterprises. In the same vein, 20% of state procurement will benefit women-owned enterprises while 7% will go to businesses owned by people living with disabilities,” he said.
The premier said his administration had decided to position Limpopo among the top tourism economies in the country.
“We want to increase the number of tourists visiting Limpopo by implementing the five in five strategy that aims to receive five million tourists in five years.
“The strategy seeks to double the current 3% contribution of the tourism sector to the total national GDP.
“On the domestic tourism front, Limpopo still leads the pack with 3.3 million trips recorded in 2018,” said Mathabatha. “Mining is also one of the three pillars of the Limpopo economy as it contributes almost 25% to the provincial gross domestic product. Currently, we have 147 mining projects that are operational. A further eight projects are in the pipeline in the Capricorn and Sekhukhune districts. The latter is expected to attract investments worth R2.5 billion and create around 3 000 jobs for Limpopo.”
Mathabatha also planned to use agriculture to fight poverty and escalating unemployment. He highlighted key focus areas as being:
- supporting the revitalisation of primary agriculture and agro-processing, targeting undeveloped lands in particular;
- revitalisation of small-scale irrigation schemes and ensuring their sustainable operations;
- supporting black farmers in order to increase their entry into the food value chain;
- expanding the agricultural skills base through training and skills development initiatives;
- and facilitating transformation in the sector with a view to ensure a meaningful participation of women, youth and people with disabilities.
He said the poultry industry remained one of the largest contributors to the agricultural sector in SA. The industry, according to Mathabatha, provided direct employment for over 54,000 people and indirect employment to a further 58,000 people.
He said the province also planned to give infrastructure support to 577 farmers in the areas of poultry, livestock and vegetable farming.
“This support includes irrigation systems for potatoes, irrigation systems for fruit and vegetable production, poultry infrastructure, production inputs, construction of a packing facility for banana farmers, completion of a tomato paste processing facility to provide a market for about 3,000 small tomato growers with a production capacity of 750 tons per day and to provide production inputs and mechanisation support to over 13,700 farmers.”