The Committee embarked on a Focused Intervention Study focusing on the skills Development and training programmes that meet the demands of emergent farmers in the modernized Agricultural Sector, and threats of in-migration and competing Land Uses for Agricultural Resources in Gauteng.
The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) is mandated to secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources such as high potential agricultural land while at the same time promoting justifiable economic and social development in the Province. The protection of agricultural land plays a major role in ensuring food security, as agricultural land in the province has to compete with various non-agricultural land uses due to continued urbanization and development pressures.
The Department acknowledges that High-Potential Agricultural Land (HPAL) is rapidly facing degradation and thereby compromising future food security. Measures such as the subdivision of High-Potential Agricultural Land and other land uses that impact negatively on soil resources, result in the creation of uneconomical and non-viable agricultural units as a result of:
- Urban expansion, mining activities which transform large swathes of land
- Land use activities which result in contaminated agricultural soils and water sources
- Linear transport infrastructure, such as roads, which fragments agricultural land and serves as a good indicator of future development pressure on land and poor and unsustainable agricultural practices.
The Department acknowledges that it is imperative for a policy to be initiated which is aimed at protecting this scarce resource from transformation and urbanisation in order to ensure food security in the province. The province further faces the increasing air pollution threat which has resulted in affected residents facing respiratory related illnesses and mortality due to air pollution. Furthermore, the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs) contributes to a phenomenon referred to as the greenhouse effect which helps to form an insulating layer in the atmosphere that reduces the amount of the sun’s heat that radiates back into space and makes the earth warmer.
The Committee furthermore engaged with the Department on the skills development for emergent farmers that will meet the demands of the Agricultural Sector in The 21st Century. This is due to the realization that the Agricultural sector is increasingly introducing new technological techniques and strategies aimed at enhancing food production to ensure that agricultural production is sustained. The Department is making good efforts to support, train, develop and build capacity for farmers in the province. There is an increase in technologically oriented farming systems which demand higher level skills. The Committee commends the Department for the training programs that are in place, and further encourages them to continue supporting emergent farmers. Skills development is a crucial element in improving the effectiveness with which organisations operate in the current global arena.