When the Agriculture and Livestock Committee got the invitation to visit the Cape Provincial Government of South Africa, little was foreseen. Reluctantly only a few members (four) agreed to the invite.
I joined the group to add to the numbers and reduce those on the waiting list for an extra-national tour of the committee members. The planning was perfect. Intensive visits to some very well-chosen destinations and the planned/ensuing interactions. From the sum-total exposure, the following five key lessons could be drawn.
The first lesson concerns the deliberate choice to correlate ecological potential with progressive investment in agriculture: The initial planners of South African agriculture took time to understand their agroecological presentations before making investments. The “correct” enterprises were located in their most suited ecological domains. A close scrutiny clearly revealed the agro-ecological relevance of the choices made, at the inception of the investments.
The choice of ecology was backed by the development of supportive investment. If it is sheep farming, based on the breed demands, the same was destined for the very best ecology. That has one major advantage. A natural coexistence and preservation of the ecological potential whose improvement leads to higher or better carrying capacity. A look at most African countries would reveal some trial and error fixing, which in the long run results in ecological damage and significant reductions in the capacity to support growing populations.
Production planning and organization followed the investments. Initial investments included water supply in requisite quantities (through various water harvesting and upstream damming efforts), preservation of the soils and maintaining them in high-performance standards through health checks, and requisite adjustments and preservations of the wetlands and waterways. Then cyclical planning around the year witnesses the synchronization of operations to suit the husbandry options.
Then follows the identification, establishment, and nurturing of relationships. Those are relevant stakeholder engagements to facilitate the progression of an enterprise. Indeed, most enterprises perform at their best when demands are met in time. Relationships involving actors ensure the delivery of the factors as needed.
The third lesson was the realization that a whole value chain approach to commodity development was prioritized right from the onset. This again is a case of identifying who does what and effectively engaging them in advance to effectively play their role.
The approach was supported by the choice for production to scale, which optimizes the use of the land as a resource and ensures better application of the farm outputs. Where necessary, the government of the day set up aggregation units for both inputs and products. That enables users at the right time thus guaranteeing optimization of results as well as securing better market prices.
Aggregation also effectively supports value-addition options because raw materials are availed in reasonable quantities. Such efforts, coupled with stakeholder engagement ensure effective product promotion and marketing with sustainable long-term supply management guarantees. Reliability of the supply of quality products to a niche market is key to building long-term functional relationships.
The fourth lesson learned was in line with the development of supportive physical infrastructure. The provincial government has an extremely elaborate road and railway network, which links up well with the sea and air transport systems. On the other hand, development in telecommunication and ICT infrastructure has further supported the set systems to work better.
The fifth lesson concerns the identification, development, and promotion of tourism resources. Cape Town benefits from the peculiar features of Table Mountains, whose touristic activities besides the challenge climbs, include cable car exposure’. That is about the most competitive activity around the mountain where long queues of tourists awaiting a chance to “cable up there” are apparent at the mountainside.
The adjacent peak with the shape of a lion’s head is another feature around the mountains, with many tourists clambering for a challenging climb, especially now that it is associated with some risks. On the western side of the Table Mountains is an excellent well-developed beach (Camps Bay), with some of the most elegant seafront hotels and apartments. The beach is awash with exclusive beach games and impressive sceneries for photography, conscious runs, and also sight appreciation.
Right in the middle of the city is the waterfront, which bears the harbor, and many other historical tourist attractions. Waterfront presents many water-related exposes’ including a visit to Robin Island where the first African president, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. Across the bay from the harbour is the Century City where the Canal Walk Mall is an impressive tourist attraction in itself. This is the second largest shopping mall in Africa with more than 500 shopping outlets. Ground and sea transport to all the attractions is extremely elaborate and reasonably priced.
The final lesson from this exposé is the relative financing models of the various government formations. The national government takes care of the regional government budget through exchequer releases. The regional government submits its budget and the same goes through requisite scrutiny and adjustments in view of the supply levels and funding ensures. Any revenue collection made at the regional government level is allocated as AIA as an offset from the national government allocation.
The regional government takes care of the humanitarian attributes of the region in terms of support to development initiatives while local authorities cater to the infrastructural and other service-related attributes of the sub-region. A lot more maintenance and decorative works are done by the local authorities in tandem with keeping the cities clean and more attractive to visitors. Now you know why many will visit Cape Town and the Government of Cape Province, many times.
John Mutunga is MP Tigania West and Chairman Agriculture and Livestock Committee in the National Assembly