From left to right are Pierre Vercueil (deputy president of Agri SA), Phenias Gumede (deputy president of Agri SA), Lindiwe Sisulu (minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation), Dan Kriek (president of Agri SA) and Omri van Zyl (executive director of Agri SA).

Sustainable policy development and its implementation are key factors set to mould South Africa’s agricultural landscape during the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Agri SA stands in the front line when it comes to communicating policy changes directly to the agricultural sector. As a result, the second day of the Agri SA 2019 congress was devoted to sustainable policy development.

Preserving precious resources

South Africa’s minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, started the proceedings by sharing her vision for the ministry with various agricultural stakeholders attending the congress.

The minister’s bold stance on teamwork, accountability, and preserving the precious resources that power South Africa’s agricultural sector reverberated throughout her presentation and her response to questions from the audience.  

After expounding on the non-renewable, scarce nature of water and how it supports multiple sectors that are contributing significantly towards economic growth, Sisulu stated that emergent problems relating to water availability should be met with urgency.

Pursuing immediate action

“In my department, should we be informed about a water shortage in a specific area that is not sorted out within 24 hours, the people responsible will lose their jobs because they are too comfortable. We have to change the way that government deals with these types of emergencies.”

Concerning water pollution, the minister stated that another policy change is in order. “Should we find that any mining industry is leaking pollutants that are negatively affecting the environment, we would like to pursue regulation that allows for legal action against the perpetrators,” Sisulu added.

Wayman Kritzinger, chairperson of Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence in the Natural Resources division, shared the organisation’s policy position on water. “The agricultural sector, through irrigation use, is the largest water user in South Africa. When managing water, consideration must be given to the social, economic and environmental aspects associated with it,” he said.

Agri SA’s policy position on water

Agri SA is currently focussing on the following aspects in terms of water quality and usage within the agricultural sector:

  • Establishment of CMAs and local water management institutions.
  • Information on proper water resource management by establishing water usage throughout the agricultural sector.
  • Promoting the implementation of water metering technologies and infrastructure maintenance to ensure water-use efficiency.
  • Keeping water affordable.
  • Actively participating in monitoring, reporting and enforcing water quality.
  • Lawful, fact-based and sustainable allocation of unutilised water resources.
  • Building and strengthening relationships with governmental and agricultural stakeholders.

Prioritising problem solving

Dan Kriek, president of Agri SA, emphasised the importance of open communication geared towards problem solving and thanked minister Sisulu for her willingness to partake in these important conversations.

Watch the video below for more of Dan Kriek’s insights regarding the Agri SA 2019 congress.

In her closing comments, the minister invited collaboration and input regarding the department’s plan of action put forth during the congress.

“In everything we are doing, we have everybody’s interest at heart. We welcome comments and suggestions so that when we implement new policy, nobody will be disadvantaged. We intend to ensure follow-through on these resolutions so that everybody is allowed equal access to one of the most essential resources in the agricultural sector,” she concluded. – Claudi Nortjé, Plaas Media