The Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) and Potatoes SA recently signed a 3-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at boosting economic growth and employment opportunities through the growth of the potato industry
Potatoes are the most common staple food consumed by most people in South Africa to prepare various meals. The sector employs an average of 55,000 people with Limpopo, Free State, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Eastern Cape being the leading potato producing regions in the country.
According to the Head of the WCDoA, Mogale Sebopetsa, the MOU commits both parties to grow this potato industry to advance economic growth and increase employment opportunities. Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potato SA, welcomed the signing and commitments as a significant step forward for the industry. He further highlighted that the potato industry significantly contributes to South Africa's fresh produce turnover. "The potato industry is estimated to contribute at least US$361.3mn to South Africa's economy and contributes 30-50% of the fresh produce turnover in the country," said Jacobs.
Commenting on the agreement's significance, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Ivan Meyer, said that WCDoA's Commodity Approach was central to the MOU between the Department and the Potato industry. "The WCDoA's commodity approach is a strategy for farmer support across the agricultural value chains. This partnership with commodity organisations such as Potato SA strengthens the help rendered to land reform farmers," said Meyer.
In his concluding statement, Meyer emphasised that successful land reform would happen once farmers were able to make money by gaining access to natural resources, skills, mentorship, technology, and markets.