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Agri-processing could be ideal to drive Northern Cape economic growth

Investments have been made in manufacturing facilities for speciality rooibos tea at Niewoudtville in the Northern Cape, as well as in new vineyard development for groups of people who previously had not had exposure to the grape and wine sector.

Two particular areas of interest to assist small-scale farmers are being explored with regard to hemp and crops that can produce liquor. The dry interior of the Northern Cape is suitable for the growing of Agave that provides the source material for tequila, and there are several other opportunities. The rapidly changing legislative environment for hemp and marijuana holds potential in textiles and medicine.

Long-term thinking underpins the adoption by the provincial government of the Northern Cape Climate Change Adaptation Response Strategy. This allows for a framework to tackle drought and other climate change issues.

Occupying 36-million hectares, the Northern Cape is the largest province in the country, almost a third of South Africa’s total land area. Although the province is a predominantly semi-arid region, agriculture is a major component of the economy of the regional economy and the province’s farmers contribute 6.8% to South African agriculture.

The agricultural sector also plays a vital role in the broader economy of the Northern Cape, employing as it does about 45 000 people. This represents about 16% of employment, a much higher figure than the national figure of 5.5%.

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