Chris Hani and Joe Gqabi District Municipalities co-hosted the ambassador of Argentina, His Excellency, Mr Javier F Figueroa on Thursday in Komani. Mr Figueroa, accompanied by the country’s President of Commercial Industries with other Commercial Farming leaders, was visiting this area for the first time.
The Argentine delegation was visiting the two district municipalities to pursue and implement the heads of agreement of the Bilateral Agreement on Cooperation in the field of Agriculture signed in 2013 between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of Republic of Argentina. Amongst the key elements of the agreement is the establishment of Rural Agro-Industries and Financial Initiative (RAFI), which gives necessary support to organizations in the agricultural industry. Mr Figueroa committed in a fully packed conference room to assist CHDM with expertise and also help lobby for financial resources. He also commended agricultural initiatives of the two district municipalities.
Addressing delegates at the luncheon, CHDM Executive Mayor Kholiswa Vimbayo said ‘it was about time CHDM upped efforts on local economic development initiatives”. She added that “the youth constitute 70% of the population of our district and are not optimally participating in the economy. Our district contributes only about 5.9% in the gross domestic productivity of the Eastern Cape Province. We can improve our economy through the already existing schemes such as Ncotha irrigation scheme, Shiloh irrigation scheme, Emalahleni Sorghum belt to mention but a few. As the leadership of the district we are open to the idea of conducting research and using modern day agricultural practices and will partner with public, private and international partners”
This event was a sequel to a business to business engagement undertaken at a district level in 2016 aimed at lobbying for strategic business partners to take part in the Agricultural activities in the district following challenges of stagnant growth and high mortality rate of agricultural co-operatives within the Chris Hani Co-operative Development Centre support system and lastly to secure future markets and possible investments.
CHDM Executive Mayor Kholiswa Vimbayo highlighted that the successful implementation of the partnership would require that a “No Till Centre” be established at DOHNE which will focus on research and development of youth and farmers in the two districts. Bankable and unbankable farmers are also set to benefit from this partnership as ECRDA has been tasked to engage the bank of Buenos Aires to get finer details of the structuring of credit facilities offerings. The Co-operative Development Centre working with Chris Hani Development Agency and Integrated Planning and Economic Development Department of the CHDM are expected to advise on an exchange program with the School of Agronomy in Argentina where young people within the two districts can be sent to do on-site training about this Direct planting system, she added.
CHDM delegations have also visited India and Israel in the past with a view to forge strategic relations in the field of agriculture. Farmers associations, Leadership of Co-operatives, especially the Agri-business Tertiary Co-operative, other Business Associations, Board of Chris Hani Development Agency, Joe Gqabi Economic Development Agency and Chris Hani Co-operative Development Centre, House of Traditional Leaders, representatives from the Eastern Cape Provincial Development Agencies and Sector Departments were amongst those in attendance.
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