This report captures the findings of a study that considered the green skill implications for transitioning towards climate-smart agricultural practice in the Western Cape, as part of the Green Skills Project.
Agriculture is a cornerstone of the South African economy and is vital for human and social well-being. Agricultural production is tied to natural resources and systems, relying heavily on suitable land, soil, water, climatic conditions, and other ecosystem services, such as pollination. At the same time, farming and food processing often pose a threat to biodiversity and ecosystem functions, while being threatened by shifting weather patterns and the impacts of climate change. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is a practice that can be applied at any stage in food production. CSA integrates the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – by jointly addressing food security and climate challenges. It is composed of three main pillars:
i) sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes;
ii) adapting and building resilience to climate change; and
iii) reducing and/or removing greenhouse gases emissions, where possible.
The agricultural sector’s transition to CSA would benefit from green skills. Green skills can assist the sector not only in creating and sustaining livelihood opportunities and building resilience to threats such as climate change and water scarcity, but also in making the sector a leading competitor in the regional and global market.
This study started by looking at drivers and trends within the agricultural sector as a whole in the Western Cape, and then narrowed its focus to the value chains of three distinct commodities: poultry (broilers and eggs); winter grain (barley and wheat); and deciduous fruit (specifically pome fruit/apples and pears). These commodities were selected through a comparative review of different commodities in the province, which compared their employment potential, economic value, vulnerability to climate change and their social impact.
Within each commodity’s value chain, stages of production that appeared to have the potential for impactful positive change – ‘hotspots’ – were identified and explored further to identify the skill implications for people working in occupations in that ‘hotspot’, across different farming types and at various stages of production.
The review of trends and drivers within the agricultural sector and within the three specified commodity value chains revealed many opportunities for green enterprise development, green specialisms in occupations, and green skills that could enable the agricultural sector to transition to greener and more resilient practices. For the full report, click here.