HEIGHTENED levels of poverty, weak domestic and foreign investments, poor manufacturing and processing industries and a fragile economic environment were some of the challenges highlighted by Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) executive mayor Kholiswa Vimbayo during the lunch hosted for Argentina’s ambassador in Komani last Thursday.
CHDM forms part of a bilateral agreement between South Africa and Argentina for cooperation in the agricultural sector. The objectives, according to a concept document, were to strengthen agriculture development and cooperation between the two countries through shared programmes and projects.
Key areas in the partnership include the improvement of agriculture production efficiencies, technologies to improve responses to biotic and abiotic stresses and agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and biological control.
Others were the diversification of agriculture commodities through the use and improvement of minor or under-utilised crop species and animal breeds and management of natural and genetic resources relevant to agriculture. Vimbayo also highlighted the high unemployment rate and skills gap as some of the challenges.
She said there was a decrease in the primary sector investment such as primary agriculture, forestry, fishing industries and mining and quarrying industries. The district’s strategic development approach included a regional economic development strategy, an Agri-Parks and rural enterprise development hub and agrarian reform.
There was an implementation plan between Argentina and the Eastern Cape with clear deliverables.
“We must ensure that a refreshed mandate is signed between departments and district municipalities on the Rural Agro-Industries and Financial Initiative (Rafi) programme. An agreement between EC and National Institute of Agricultural Technologies must be developed.”
Ambassador Javier Figueroa said he was here to listen. Challenges listed were shared between the two countries.
“There is no single economy in the world that can succeed alone. You have the political will and that is why I am here. I hope we can contribute positively with this initiative.”