Deputy minister recommends skills development for sustainable rural livelihood

Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Hon Sdumo Dlamini says efforts to improve rural livelihood will remain a distant aspiration if skills development initiatives do not redress underlying factors such as disease burden, unemployment, inequality and poverty

Dlamini was delivering the 6th Annual Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Lecture online via Google Meet under the theme “Skills Development and Rural Livelihood: How to deal with it both during and post Covid-19”, hosted by the University of Limpopo (UL).

In his 30-minute speech, Dlamini said the country needs to compensate for major conjectural challenges that continue to threaten progress on the national liberation project. “Lack of skills, inequality, poverty, unemployment, and the disease burden expose the lingering effects of the colonial and apartheid past and the weaknesses of the country’s social and economic policies,” he stated.

The former COSATU President attributed lack of sustainable rural livelihood to these challenges, saying in South Africa, rural areas are known to be places where people live through farming. “The reality is that only 11% of South African land is suitable for farming as South Africa is a water-scarce country. Large concentrations of the rural population are located on land that is unproductive or unsuitable for farming,” he said. 

Dlamini further stated that, where land claims have been approved, the recipients often lack the skills or the support needed to develop the land into a viable and successful enterprise.

Understanding the nexus between skills development and rural livelihood and how to deal with this during and post the Covid-19 pandemic, the Deputy Minister suggested what he believed could be the long-lasting solutions. “A focus should be made on training the rural youth in preparation for the green economy. This should be aimed at supporting rural jobs that restore forests, rangelands and watersheds.”

He added that since South Africa is a water-scarce country, young people should be trained on water management as part of preparing for an eventuality of integrated water and land resources management. "This should be adopted as a model framework for the sound and equitable allocation of water as a public good."

Dlamini noted that the securing of a better future entails redressing the injustices of the past. “Training should also be available in ABET facilities for workers and rural communities, to facilitate the working class and poor communities’ access to training programmes,”, adding that apprenticeship training should be emphasised. 

In his closing remarks,  UL Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Mahlo Mokgalong, said the university already has policies that assist in recognising prior learning. He further said that the institution  has introduced training programmes that support smallholders to become large-scale commercial farmers through increased and diversified farming in areas such as marketing, strategic management and leadership, finding seed capital, managing finances, writing a business plan, and soil science among others. 

The annual lecture is a collaboration between UL and the Archbishop Thabo Cecil Makgoba Development Trust entered into in 2015 as a vehicle to drive food security initiatives among rural populations. “We’re here to make an effort to address the challenge of food insecurity as well as promoting best agricultural practices in the rural areas of the Limpopo Province,” said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba during the lecture.

Date created: 2020-09-15 13:14:51