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Phikwe turns to agriculture as hope dims

SELEBI-PHIKWE: SPEDU and the local authority are redoubling their efforts to establish Selebi-Phikwe as an agricultural hub, with 1,300 hectares set aside for farming within the town’s planning area.

The Agency has also secured a quota of the water that was used by BCL Mine, to be repurposed for a large-scale citrus project in the former copper and nickel mining town. Under the SPEDU tax incentive, which came into effect in February, agriculture has been set aside as a qualifying sector, with companies eligible for just five percent in tax for the first five years of operation, and 10% thereafter.

Acting mayor Evelyn Kgodungwe said design works are well underway and various parties are working closely with the Ministry of Land, Water and Sanitation Management to service the land. “The scope of the work is also underway while servicing of this land is scheduled to commence during the first quarter of 2019-2020 financial year,” Kgodungwe said on Wednesday at a signing ceremony for an MoU between SPEDU and the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security.

“Do not be deceived by those who label our town a ghost town because we are committed to evolve after the mine’s closure.” SPEDU CEO, Mokubung Mokubung said the regional diversification agency recognises the importance of agriculture in transforming lives in the region, and thus a number of initiatives have been focused toward the agricultural sector. “We have worked with the Ministry of Agriculture on projects such as the ongoing establishment of the Thune and Lotsane horticulture irrigation schemes, which involve identifying investors and ensuring that the promoters settle smoothly,” he said.  “We have

also worked together on the revival of Talana Farm to identify an investor, provide electricity for small-scale horticulture holdings within the Motloutse River basin as well as on the feasibility study for small dams in the region. “We are also studying the business model and market potential for horticulture products in Selebi-Phikwe, amongst other projects.”

Mokubung said already farmers who invested in agriculture had started to benefit from the tax incentives, which include a 30% government off-take agreement and 50-year land lease. “We are committed to assist the development of the agriculture sector in the region and make it more attractive,” Mokubung said.  “We are currently constructing the Platjan Bridge, which is planned to be a commercial point of entry.  This will promote movement of agricultural goods in and out of the country.” For her part, Agriculture deputy permanent secretary, Rose Sennanyana said government’s approach was to promote the production of agricultural commodities in suitable areas, such as the SPEDU region.  “Through this approach, commodity clusters are being created in different agro-ecological zones.

“Areas suitable for grain, fruit, livestock and vegetable production as well as other agricultural related commodities are identified, clustered and technical support is provided.  “This MoU signing will surely galvanise this approach,” she said.




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