SA Minister stresses use of Africa’s uncultivated land

SOUTH AFRICA : AFRICA can contribute to feeding the world if it invests heavily in its uncultivated land which accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated arable land.

South Africa’s Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youths and Persons with Disabilities Dr Nkosazana Zuma stated this on Thursday at the SAWID 20- Year Celebration Annual Dialogue Gala Dinner.

She said Africa accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s arable land that has not been used   but it still imports food.

“This shouldn’t be… we should be able to grow our own food and probably contribute to feeding the world… that is what I think we should be doing,” Dr Zuma said.

The minister commended the South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID) for putting agriculture at the centre of development.

She said Africa is also endowed with various minerals but its people have not fully benefited from the resources because they are being exported to other countries.

“We must ensure that our minerals and natural resources are beneficiated and processed here and then sent out as finished goods,” Dr Zuma insisted.

She urged SAWID to be part of the voices that advocate   for the African countries to stop exporting raw materials.

Dr Zuma further explained that when countries   export raw materials, they also export jobs, noting that Africa is the biggest exporter of jobs.

She detailed that when the continent exports raw materials the resources are going to be processed and beneficiated and the jobs created from the businesses are even higher than the jobs in the mining and agriculture sectors.

Dr Zuma further said that by exporting raw materials Africa also becomes the biggest exporter of revenue because when the countries export raw materials the products which are imported into the continent have higher value.

The Minister further said that there is a need for mobilising the financial sector because it is a commanding height of the economy.

“It is not that black people don’t have ideas, but they lack access to finance… this is one of the things that we must fight for,” Dr Zuma said.

She said that in efforts to ensure effective participation of women in agriculture and other production sectors, her department is working to establish a cooperative bank to help people to have access to finance.

“We have started the process by commissioning an agency that is legally in charge of establishing cooperative bank to take us through the processes,” she noted.

The minister further said that the cooperative bank will be owned by the people and they will make rules and decide what to do with the money.

Dr Zuma said initially people will be required to put some amount of money for buying shares and for administration and they will eventually become the shareholders.

The minister also said that the government has entered into agreement with India so that they can train some South African women specifically from rural areas on how to make solar panels, install and maintain them.

She said the women will go to India for the training in November noting that upon completion of the training they will come back and train more women.

Dr Zuma said the programme will help to empower women so that they can address some challenges facing them.

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