The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Bulenani Magwanishe says the agro-processing and forestry sectors are key in growing the economy and create sustainable jobs especially in the rural areas. Magwanishe was speaking at the Forestry Industrialisation Summit that was hosted by the South African Forestry Company and other government departments in Kempton Park today.
The purpose of the summit was to engage stakeholders on the promotion of wood culture in the built environment as well as the use of renewal resource in resolving the structural challenge that South Africa is facing.
According to Magwanishe, the forestry sector is amongst the most labour-intensive and further demands rural based operations. He said Industrialisation in the forestry industry has offered challenges which can be opportunities for accelerated growth, if addressed accordingly.
“The Department of Trade and Industry, (the dti) plays a key role in the development of the manufacturing industry in the agro-processing sector. In the forestry sector the dti has supported 46 projects during the last two financial years. In addition, the department has dedicated over R1.5 billion to the wood-processing and board-manufacturing industry through incentives schemes,” said Magwanishe.
He also said that as the department, the dti strives to promote broader export opportunities for South African saw-millers.
Speaking at the same event, the Chairperson of the South African Forestry Company, Mr Lungile Mabece said the forestry industry faces some challenges with issues such as land claims, acquisition of additional land for afforestation purpose, and timber construction which is still not accepted by various stakeholders and is also not allowed for in the norms and standard within some government departments.
“Whilst there may be notable challenges in the industry, there still remains immense potential within the forestry and sectors, to assist in growing industries, supply raw material, growing more specialised, impacting the rural development positively, whilst providing opportunities for new industries, as well as the development of entrepreneurs,” said Mabece.
In support of the sector the dti has launched a R1 billion agro-processing Support Scheme (APSS) where furniture manufacturing and wood-processing sub-sectors will be assisted to improve their competitiveness.