Tag Archives: Agriculture and Farming

Agricultural colleges to become training institutes

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is in the process of transforming Colleges of Agriculture into national Agricultural Training Institutes (ATIs).

Tabling her Budget Vote Speech in Parliament last Wednesday, Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said they already have concluded an extensive audit of these institutions.

“The audit carried out investigated comprehensively at the condition of infrastructure at these institutions, the academic and skills training programmes made available, their accreditation status, the governance structures in place and the financial and logistical systems in place,” she said.

 

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson

 

Joemat-Pettersson explained the factors applied to the audit to evaluate these areas were informed by the accepted norms and standards for ATIs.

For the 2011/12 financial year, R50 million has been made accessible to the 12 Colleges of Agriculture, which will be put to use to deal with the gaps determined from the audit.

This financial year, far more emphasis is going to be on infrastructure improvement which includes revitalisation of computer laboratories at these institutions.

The department has been given R20 million funding via a joint venture with the Netherlands Institute for Capacity Building at Higher Education Institutions (NICHE).

“This undertaking will bolster the capacity of these colleges as Centres of Excellence, particularly the provision of training for smallholder producers in the country.

 

“We in addition have recruited the technical support of the Federal Republic of Germany in the growth and development of a national strategy relating to appropriate vocational training to be incorporated as part of the curricula of these colleges.

“When it comes to this financial year, we are going to speed up work towards the promulgation of the Agricultural Training Institute Bill, which will dictate a national model of governance for these colleges,” she explained.

The minister said forestry at the moment generates a huge number of jobs in rural areas, which includes the contribution of the private sector.

“I am positive that a good many more work opportunities can be produced in re-afforestation, saw-milling, charcoal production, timber, coppicing, Working on Fire and the Working for Forestry programmes… we have allocated R451.6 million to the Forestry Branch, which is to be utilized to pursue the specified outcomes.

 

“I am also excited to declare the fact that the United Nations has offered South Africa the chance to host the World Forestry Congress in 2015,” she said.

She described the fisheries sector as being a problematic and complex one, with huge financial interests involved.

“We have significantly improved our capacity to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and the department has launched an anti-poaching project in the Western Cape, financed via the Working for Fisheries Programme.

“This has allowed us to utilize 60 military veterans in the Overberg Region to serve as the eyes and ears of the government,” she said.

Source: BuaNews, sabc.co.za,

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2011 South Africa year of job creation

President Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma revealed a range of campaigns to further improve job creation, along with the creation of a R9-billion job opportunities fund, when he declared that 2011 will be South Africa’s “year of job creation” as part of his State of the Nation address in Parliament.

“Our goal is crystal clear,” Zuma said in Cape Town last Thursday. “All of us are looking for a nation whereby millions more South Africans have decent employment opportunities, which includes a modern national infrastructure in addition to a vibrant economy, and additionally in which the quality of life is high.

“All of us have a responsibility and obligation to work hard in order to make this a reality.”


The campaigns Zuma mentioned made it easy to flesh out the government’s New Growth Path, made available the later part of last year, which is designed to create five million employment opportunities by 2020 in addition to bring South Africa’s unemployment rate right down to 15%.

The nation’s unemployment rate decreased marginally during the final quarter of 2010, from 25.3% in last year’s third quarter to 24%.

Six priority areas

In accordance with the New Growth Path, Zuma proclaimed six priority areas are going to be targeted in an attempt to generate significantly more jobs, including: infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the “green” economy, and tourism.

He was quoted saying that the private sector would definitely be essential in the country’s endeavours to provide considerably more jobs and also that business, labour and communities would need to interact with each other to conquer unemployment.

The R9-billion jobs fund would finance new job-creation projects over a three-year period and additionally is going to be complemented as a result of an amount of R10-billion to be earmarked through the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) over the upcoming five years intended for investment in projects that have high job-creation potential.


R20bn in regulations and tax breaks for manufacturing

Zuma at the same time declared R20-billion in tax allowances along with tax breaks to encourage investment opportunities, expansions and improvements in South Africa’s manufacturing sector.

The Department of Trade and Industry showcased the particular initiative late last year.

For a project to be able to be eligible, the minimum investment is required to be R200-million for brand new projects, and R30-million intended for expansion and upgrades, he explained. The programme will offer an allowance up to R900-million in tax-deductible allowances for first time investors and R550-million for upgrades and expansions.

Small business support

To further improve help and support to small businesses, the government is likely to have a look at combining three of their monetary funds that focused on small businesses – Khula, the SA Micro-Finance Apex Fund (Samaf), and the IDC’s small business funding activities – into a single unit.

This certainly will make it possible for the government to prevent duplication of financial support, reduce administrative costs in addition to bolster the readily available investment capital for small enterprises, Zuma pointed out.

He went ahead and added the fact that the government campaign to pay small businesses in a timely manner – within 30 days – was indeed proceeding well, adding that during the last financial year the SMME Hotline had received more than 20 000 telephone calls and additionally facilitated about R210-million in payments.

He at the same time added that several other departments had their own unique campaigns, such as the Department of Public Works’ Re Ya Patala (We Pay) initiative.

The government would definitely carry on with legislative reforms in order to make it simpler to register businesses, as well as improve the Competition Act to open the marketplace to new participants.

Public works

Zuma pointed out South Africa’s Expanded Public Works Programme intended to generate 4.5-million job opportunities, and remarked that over a million opportunities have already been created since the beginning of phase 2 of the programme.

The programme concentrates on repairing the country’s roads networks; additionally , the government would definitely furthermore develop national infrastructure to enhance the agricultural sector. Zuma mentioned water reservoirs, windmills and irrigation schemes are going to be rehabilitated.


“These types of projects will certainly boost food security as well as create work opportunities for many people, specifically women in rural areas,” he explained.

He pointed out the the conversion process associated with the country’s television and radio signals from an analogue platform to a digital signal would undoubtedly create many employment opportunities in manufacturing, packaging, distribution and installation.

Youth development

Zuma pointed out the government’s job creation initiative would undoubtedly at the same time greatly enhance youth development.

“The National Youth Development agency is in discussion together with state organs and the private sector to mainstream youth development in public sector programmes as well as to boost youth enterprises and cooperatives,” he was quoted saying.


He explained the government had in addition established the National Rural Youth Service Corps programme to help and assist youth in rural areas. Up to now, in excess of 7 000 young individuals have already been employed in the programme.

Tourism

The administration has also been taking a look at concentrating on the tourism market, where Zuma remarked that for every 16 tourists that visited the country, one job opportunity was created.

South Africa’s tourist arrivals happen to be up from 6.3-million in 2009 to 7.3-million during the past year.

The country would certainly develop already present market segments while exploring the up and coming economies, at the same time seeking to increase the quantity of international conferences and sports events the country hosts.


He said South Africa had presently secured 95 international meetings and conferences between 2010 and 2016.

The government would certainly at the same time take a look at flexible visa requirements, improved landing slots at foreign airports, combined with superior travel and leisure infrastructure.

Associated with tourism, the government will carry on to build up the cultural industries sector.

Social security reform

Zuma declared that while the government would certainly look for ways to enhance the standard of living of workers, as a result of reviewing the legislation relating to labour brokers, the government’s position paper on social security reform was likely to be unveiled this coming year for discussion.

“Concerns to be addressed range from the funding and nature of the National Social Security Fund, the way the private sector occupational and retirement funds will compliment the entire system, as well as the possible regulatory structure,” he explained.

Minerals beneficiation

He explained the government would definitely this coming year finalise and adopt its minerals beneficiation strategy to improve the overall economy.

The nation is abundant with mineral wealth, but the majority of of the mineral deposits mined happen to be subject to beneficiation beyond the borders of South Africa, robbing the country of business opportunities.

Zuma pointed out that ministers would have to detail their respective job targets when they tabled their budget vote speeches.

He said provincial and local governments have already been requested to align programmes together with the job creation imperative, and that state-owned entities and development finance institutions would certainly in addition bolster job-creation efforts.

Source: BuaNews, whalecottage.com, thestar.co.za, regiscpa.com, thonpro.co.za

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Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing

Significant Points

* Although farms generating over $250,000 per year in sales make up less than 10 percent of all farms, they supply three-quarters of all agricultural output.
* Self-employed workers—mostly farmers and fishers—account for 39 percent of the industry’s workforce.
* Employment in agriculture, forestry, and fishing is projected to have little or no change.

Nature of the Industry

The agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry sector plays a vital role in our economy and our lives. It supplies us and many other countries with a wide variety of food products and non-food products such as fibers, lumber, and nursery items. It contributes positively to our foreign trade balance and it remains one of the Nation’s larger industries in terms of total employment. However, technology continues to enable us to produce more of these products with fewer workers, resulting in fewer farms and farm workers.

Goods and services

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing includes two large subsectors—crop production and animal production—plus three smaller subsectors—forestry and logging, fishing, and agricultural support activities. Crop production includes farms that mainly grow crops used for food and fiber, while animal production includes farms and ranches that raise animals for sale or for animal products. The fishing subsector includes mainly fishers that catch fish and shellfish to sell, while the forestry and logging subsector includes establishments that grow, harvest, and sell timber. The agricultural support activities subsector includes establishments that perform any number of agricultural-related activities, such as soil preparation, planting, harvesting, or management on a contract or fee basis.

Establishments in agriculture, forestry, and fishing include farms, ranches, dairies, greenhouses, nurseries, orchards, and hatcheries. The operators, or people who run these agricultural businesses, typically either own the land in production or they lease the land from the owner. But production may also take place in the country’s natural habitats and on government-owned lands and waterways, as in the case of logging, cattle-grazing, and fishing.

The vast majority of farms, ranches, and fishing companies are small enterprises, owned and operated by families as their primary or secondary source of income. Although large family farms and corporate farms comprise less than 10 percent of the establishments in the industry, they produce three-fourths of all agricultural output. Increasingly, these large farms are being operated for the benefit of large agribusiness firms, which buy most of the product.

Industry organization

Agricultural production is the major activity of this industry sector and it consists of two large subsectors, animal production and crop production. Animal production includes establishments that raise livestock, such as beef cattle, poultry, sheep, and hogs; farms that employ animals to produce products, such as dairies, egg farms, and apiaries (bee farms that produce honey); and animal specialty farms, such as horse farms and aquaculture (fish farms). Crop production includes the growing of grains, such as wheat, corn, and barley; field crops, such as cotton and tobacco; vegetables and melons; fruits and nuts; and horticultural specialties, such as flowers and ornamental plants. Of course, many farms have both crops and livestock, such as those that grow their own animal feed, or have diverse enterprises.

The nature of agricultural work varies, depending on the crops grown, animals being raised, and the size of the farm. Although much of the work is now highly mechanized, large numbers of people still are needed to plant and harvest some crops on the larger farms. During the planting, growing, and harvesting seasons, farmers and their employees are busy for long hours, executing such activities as plowing, disking, harrowing, seeding, fertilizing, and harvesting. Vegetables generally are still harvested manually by groups of migrant farmworkers, although new machines have been developed to replace manual labor for some fruit crops. Vegetable growers on large farms of approximately 100 acres or more usually practice “monoculture,” large-scale cultivation of one crop on each division of land. Fieldwork on large grain farms—consisting of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of acres—often is done using modern agricultural equipment, such as massive tractors controlled by global positioning system (GPS) technology.

Production of some types of crops and livestock tends to be concentrated in particular regions of the country based on growing conditions and topography. Poultry and dairy farms tend to be found in most areas of the country. Most poultry and egg farms are large operations resembling production lines. Although free-range farms allow fowl some time outside during the day for exercise and sunlight, most poultry production involves mainly indoor work, with workers repeatedly performing a limited number of specific tasks. Because of increased mechanization, poultry growers can raise chickens by the thousands—sometimes by the hundreds of thousands—under one roof. Although eggs still are collected manually in some small-scale hatcheries, eggs tumble down onto conveyor belts in larger hatcheries. Machines then wash, sort, and pack the eggs into individual cartons. Workers place the cartons into boxes and stack the boxes onto pallets for shipment.

Aquaculture farmers raise fish and shellfish in salt, brackish, or fresh water, depending on the requirements of the particular species. Small fish farms usually use ponds, floating net pens, raceways, or recirculating systems, but larger fish farms are actually in the sea, relatively close to shore. Workers on aquaculture farms stock, feed, protect, and otherwise manage aquatic life to be sold for consumption or used for recreational fishing.

Horticulture farms raise ornamental plants, bulbs, shrubbery, sod, and flowers. Although much of the work takes place outdoors, in colder climates, substantial production also takes place in greenhouses or hothouses. The work can be year-round on such farms.

Workers employed in the forestry and logging subsector grow and harvest timber on a long production cycle of 10 years or more, and specialize in different stages of the production cycle. Those engaged in reforestation handle seedlings in specialized nurseries. Workers in timber production remove diseased or damaged trees from timberland, as well as brush and debris that could pose a fire hazard. Besides commercial timberland, they may also work in natural forests or other suitable areas of land that remain available for production over a long duration. Logging workers harvest timber, which becomes lumber for construction, wood products, or paper products. They cut down trees, remove their tops and branches, and cut their trunks into logs of specified length. They usually use a variety of specialized machinery to move logs to loading areas and load them on trucks for transport to papermills and sawmills.

People employed in the fishing subsector harvest fish and shellfish from their natural habitat in fresh water and in tidal areas and the ocean, and their livelihood depends on a naturally replenishing supply of fish, lobster, shellfish, or other edible marine life. Some full-time and many part-time fishers work on small boats in relatively shallow waters, often in sight of land. Crews are small—usually only one or two people collaborate on all aspects of the fishing operation. Others fish hundreds of miles offshore on large commercial fishing vessels. Navigation and communication are essential for the safety of all of those who work on the water, but particularly for those who work far from shore. Large boats, capable of hauling a catch of tens of thousands of pounds of fish, require a crew that includes a captain, or “skipper,” a first mate and sometimes a second mate, a boatswain (called a deckboss on some smaller boats), and deckhands to operate the fishing gear, sort and load the catch when it is brought to the deck, and aid in the general operation of the vessel.

The final subsector of agriculture, forestry, and fishing includes companies that provide agricultural support services to establishments in the other subsectors. On farms that primarily grow crops, these activities may include farm management services, soil preparation, planting and cultivating services, as well as crop harvesting and post-harvesting services. Other support services companies provide aerial dusting and spraying of pesticides over a large number of acres. They may also perform post-harvesting tasks to prepare crops for market, including shelling, fumigating, cleaning, grading, grinding, and packaging agricultural products. Typically, such support services are provided to the larger farms that are run more like businesses. As farms get larger, it becomes more economical as well as necessary to hire specialists to perform a range of farm services, from pest management to animal breeding. Establishments providing farm management services manage farms on a contract or fee basis. As more farms are owned by absentee landowners and corporations, farm managers are being hired to run the farms. They make decisions about planting and harvesting, and they do most of the hiring of farmworkers and specialists.

The agricultural support services subsector also includes farm labor contractors who specialize in supplying labor for agricultural production. Farm labor contractors provide and manage temporary farm laborers—often migrant workers—who usually work during peak harvesting times. Contractors may place bids with farmers to harvest labor-intensive crops such as fruit, nuts, and vegetables or perform other short-term tasks. Once the bid is accepted, the contractor, or crew leader, organizes and supervises the laborers as they harvest, load, move, and store the crops.

Establishments that supply support activities for animal production perform services that may include breeding, pedigree record services, boarding horses, livestock spraying, and sheep dipping and shearing. Workers in establishments providing breeding services monitor herd condition and nutrition, evaluate the quality and quantity of forage, recommend adjustments to feeding when necessary, identify the best cattle or other livestock for breeding and calving, advise on livestock pedigrees, inseminate cattle artificially, and feed and care for sires.

Source: bls.gov, lifesciencesearch.com, fiordland.org.nz, oklahomafarmreport.com, ars.usda.gov, water-sos.org, lubavitch.com, research4development.info

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Agricultural Workers

Nature of the Work

Agricultural workers play a large role in getting food, plants, and other agricultural products to market. Working mostly on farms or ranches, but also in nurseries, slaughterhouses, and even ports of entry, these workers have numerous and diverse duties. Among their activities are planting and harvesting crops, installing irrigation, delivering animals, and inspecting our food for safety. While most agricultural workers have relatively few technical skills, some have college degrees that train them to breed animals with specific traits or to inspect food, protecting us from harmful bacteria.

More than 80 percent of agricultural workers are farmworkers and laborers. Crop, nursery, and greenhouse farmworkers and laborers perform numerous activities related to growing and harvesting grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fiber, trees, shrubs, and other crops. They plant and seed, prune, irrigate, harvest, and pack and load crops for shipment. Farmworkers also apply pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers to crops and repair fences and some farm equipment. Nursery and greenhouse workers prepare land or greenhouse beds for growing horticultural products, such as trees, plants, flowers, and sod. Their duties include planting, watering, pruning, weeding, and spraying the plants. They may cut, roll, and stack sod; stake trees; tie, wrap, and pack plants to fill orders; and dig up or move field-grown and containerized shrubs and trees.

Farm and ranch animal farmworkers care for live farm, ranch, or water animals that may include cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, poultry, finfish, shellfish, and bees. The animals are usually raised to supply meat, fur, skins, feathers, eggs, milk, or honey. Duties may include feeding, watering, herding, grazing, castrating, branding, debeaking, weighing, catching, and loading animals. On dairy farms, farmworkers operate milking machines; they also may maintain records on animals, examine animals to detect diseases and injuries, assist in delivering animals at their birth, and administer medications, vaccinations, or insecticides. Many workers clean and maintain animal housing areas every day.

Other agricultural workers known as agricultural equipment operators use a variety of farm equipment to plow, sow seeds, and maintain and harvest crops. Equipment may include tractors, fertilizer spreaders, haybines, raking equipment, balers, combines, threshers, and trucks. These workers also operate machines, such as conveyor belts, loading machines, separators, cleaners, and dryers, used in moving and treating crops after their harvest. As part of the job, workers may make adjustments and minor repairs to equipment.

Agricultural inspectors, another type of agricultural worker, are employed by Federal and State governments to ensure compliance with laws and regulations governing the health, safety, and quality of agricultural commodities. Inspectors also make sure that the facilities and equipment used in processing the commodities meet legal standards. Meat safety is a prime responsibility. Inspectors work to ensure that meat is free of harmful ingredients or bacteria. In meat-processing facilities, inspectors may collect samples of meat suspected to be diseased or contaminated and send them to a laboratory for identification and analysis. They also may inspect livestock to help determine the effectiveness of medication and feeding programs. Some inspectors are stationed at export and import sites to weigh and inspect agricultural shipments leaving and entering the country to ensure the quality and quantity of the shipments. A few work at logging sites, making sure that safety regulations are enforced.

Graders and sorters of agricultural products examine agricultural commodities being prepared for market, classifying them according to quality or size: they grade, sort, or classify unprocessed food and other agricultural products by size, weight, color, or condition and discard inferior or defective products. For example, graders sort eggs by color and size and also examine the fat content; others examine the marbling of beef, classifying the meat as “Prime,” “Choice,” or a lower grade, as appropriate. The grade assigned determines the meat’s price.

Animal breeders select and breed animals using their knowledge of genetics and animal science to produce offspring with desired traits and characteristics, such as chickens that lay more eggs, pigs that produce leaner meat, and sheep with more desirable wool. Some animal breeders also breed and raise cats, dogs, and other household pets. Larger and more expensive animals, such as horses and cattle, are usually bred through artificial insemination, which requires the taking of semen from the male and then inseminating the female. This process ensures better results than conventional mating and also enables one prized male to sire many more offspring. To know which animals to breed and when, animal breeders keep detailed records, including the health of the animals, their size and weight, and the amount and quality of the product produced by them. They also keep track of the traits of the offspring. Some animal breeders work as consultants for a number of farmers, but others breed and raise their own animals for sale or future breeding. For those who raise animals, tasks might include fixing and cleaning animal shelters, feeding and watering the animals, and overseeing animals’ health. Some breeders supervise others who perform these tasks. Animal breeders also read journals and newsletters to learn the latest information on breeding and veterinary practices.

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