The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is mandated to ensure that the citizens of the Free State are provided with means to secure food for their families. In order to realise this objective we have embarked on several initiatives that enable farming communities, specifically developing communities, to participate in projects aimed at improving their livelihood.Our mandated on Agriculture is to ensure that the citizens of the Free State are provided with means to secure FOOD for their families. In order to realise this objective we have embarked on several initiatives that enable farming communities, specifically developing communities, to participate in projects aimed at improving their livelihood.
All agricultural projects are implemented at district level where the department has established fully operational offices in the five districts. These offices are equipped with qualified field officials managed by district senior managers. The department is implementing projects in accordance with its provincial strategy of pursuing the commodity approach. The following projects are implemented throughout the province:
- Livestock projects with strategic partners such as the IDC, FSU and CUT.
- Grain and vegetables with partners, including POTATO SA, VKB and Grain SA.
- Poultry with OVK/VKB as partner.
- Aquaculture, in partnership with the Chinese government.
- Dairy projects in the Setsoto Municipality.
Other important projects include mechanisation, irrigation and water reticulation, as well as peach, apple, pecan nuts, cherries, asparagus and ostrich projects.Agro-processing and value adding to agricultural products have been identified as key drivers for job creation in the agricultural and other associate sectors. Products such as peanut butter, dairy, poultry, pecan nuts, fish, sunflower oil, cherries and herbs have been identified for this purpose.As for the Rural Development mandate, the Department is responsible for investing in rural areas through infrastructure development. This is achieved by working with other departments and municipalities through mass mobilisation, skills development and training on projects targeting job creation, women and youth development and improvement and creation of amenities that will lead to rural areas being vibrant and sustainable.
Furthermore, we achieve this by coordinating other departments though the established Provincial Rural Development Coordinating Committee. This is demonstrated by the successful implementation of several community projects in Diyatalawa, Makgolokoeng, Thaba Nchu, Jacobsdal, and Jagersfontein. The National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform works closely with our Department to ensure successful implementation of these projects. The Department works together with all stakeholders in order to achieve its objectives. We are currently implementing several projects in partnership with the agricultural sector. Most grain-related production projects are being implemented in partnership with OVK, Grain SA, and VKB. This partnership has resulted in some of the developing farmers winning several provincial and national awards. Livestock projects are implemented in partnership with stakeholders such as the Industrial Development Cooperation (IDC), Free State University, and the Central University of Technology. Mentoring of developing farmers by commercial farmers is continuing and this will be extended.
These partnerships have translated in a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) in order to address key aspects affecting the sector. As a Department, we have entered into an MOU with ECI-Africa in order to develop an agro-processing strategy, an MOU with ABSA in support of a feedlot in Fezile Dabi, and an MOU with the German government to look into matters pertaining to bio-fuel production.Our strategic thrust remains the commercialisation of black farmers through the enhancement of a commodity-based approach.