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Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the Ha Matsila Development Trust Project, Vhembe District Municipality, Limpopo - 

Programme Director,
Premier of Limpopo, Mr Chupu Stanley Mathabatha,
Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa,
Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom,
Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu,
Deputy Ministers and MECs
Khosikhulu ya lushaka lwa Vhavenda vho Toni Mphephu Ramabulana,
Vho Thovhele na Mahosi othe,
Members of the community,
Ndi masiari, Avuxeni.
I wish you all a very good afternoon,
Our government is working hard to ensure that all our communities benefit from our country’s rich and diverse biological resources.
Our land has an abundance of different varieties of plants and animals, which serve as a source of natural products, including cosmetics and medicines.
They also provide a great foundation for expanding eco-tourism in the country.
Eco-tourism can be used to promote the economic development and empowerment of local communities.
It can help to ensure that people living adjacent to protected areas or who live in areas of high biodiversity benefit from the significant growth in tourists visiting the country.
Namusi ndi duvha la u pembela.
Ndi duvha line ra khou ita misumbedzo ya thema mveledziso dza mihasho yo fhambananaho ya muvhuso washu.
Pulani ya thema mveledziso ya lushaka (National Development Plan) i khou shumana na u lulamisa dzikhaedu tharu dzi katelaho u shaea ha mishumo, thambulo na usa vha na ndinganelo yo teaho.
Ri khou bvela phanda na u shumisana na zwiimiswa kha u wana ndila dzo khetheyaho dzine dzanga shumiswa kha zwikhala zwa mveledziso ya ikonomi yapo.
Ikonomi ya bayodaivesithi i disa tshikhala tsho khetheyaho kha ndisedzo ya tshihadu ya mveledziso ya ikonomi ya vhupo ha mahayani.
Ndi kha vhupo ha mahayani hune zwiko zwa mupo zwodalesa hone.
Ndi kha vhupo honovhu ha mahayani hune lushaka lwa vha na ndivho ya maitele a zwakale musi zwi tshida kha kushumisele kwa miri yo fhambananaho.
Hezwi zwothe zwikhou itwelwa uri ri kone u swikelela na u kovhana mitshelo i bvaho kha u shumisa zwiko zwa sialala.
U swikelela izwo zwi do toda tshipida tshiswa tsha vhuledzani vhukati ha vhadzulapo, indasitiri na muvhuso.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At present there are more than 9,000 wildlife ranches in South Africa.
Commercial wildlife ranches cover 17% of the country's landmass, with an estimated 20 million head of game.
The wildlife sector has experienced noticeable growth over the years, making it a sector open to expansion, particularly among previously disadvantaged individuals.
However, entry into the wildlife sector is hindered by barriers such as insufficient finance, inefficient land use, a lack of skills and experience, poor access to markets and the lack of infrastructure development support for entrepreneurs.
Overcoming these barriers requires coordinated efforts from government, the private sector and communities.
As part of its contribution, SANParks has undertaken to donate 3,000 head of game to emerging wildlife farmers in the next three years.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife pledged to donate 1,200 head of game over four years, and the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency promised to donate 1,500 animals in support of transformation over the next five years.
The Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism has also pledged to donate 1,000 animals to communities as part of the government support framework.
The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Authority has pledged 80 head of game per year.
On behalf of the private sector, Wildlife Ranching South Africa has committed to assist in unlocking socio-economic opportunities and to support the successful implementation of land reform and wildlife economy initiatives.
These opportunities need to be developed alongside the acceleration of land reform, which is crucial for inclusive economic growth.
It is therefore a great pleasure to use this occasion to hand over title deeds and financial compensation to communities who have successfully claimed their land.
We will be handing over a cheque to the value of R168 million to the Mphaphuli Traditional Authority for phase 1 of their claim.
This claim covers a large part of Thohoyandou town, including the Venda University of Technology and the Thohoyandou Botanical Garden.
The Botanical Garden will continue to be operated for conservation purposes by the South African National Biodiversity Institute for the benefit of the entire nation, although the economic spin-offs will accrue to the successful land claimants.
We are also handing over a cheque of R77.3 million to the Gomondwane community in respect of their Kruger National Park land claim.
This is in addition to the claim settled in 2016.
We are handing over title deeds to the Mooke community from the North West and Makhasa and Mqobokazi communities from KwaZulu-Natal.
With the launch of this project today, we celebrate an integrated economic model which is led and implemented by the community.
What makes this venture work is the dedication of all those involved to uplifting this poverty-stricken area north of the Soutpansberg.
I would like to commend the Ha-Matsila community and the Matsila Royal Household for establishing the Matsila Community Development Trust in 2007.
Through its Enterprise Incubator Programme, the Department of Small Business Development has approved eight projects since 2016 to the value of R45 million for the construction of shared economic infrastructure.
Completed projects include the Matsila Shared Economic Infrastructure Facility and Matsila Incubator.
In addition, the Limpopo Wildlife Business Incubator has secured funding for the first wildlife incubation programme in the country amounting to R8 million.
Community members have also been involved in a volunteer programme to clean the Tshikali River, while efforts are being made to eradicate invasive and alien species in 1,000 ha of land, prevent and control erosion, and to restore degraded and over-grazed land.
A fully-fledged land user incentive program has been initiated and funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs for three years, employing 250 local people from 10 different villages belonging to Venda and Tsonga communities.
The Trust was recently assisted by the Department of Environmental Affairs with infrastructure funding to establish a 300 ha game farm for breeding high value species.
Over and above the Matsila development, government has planned investments in the broader Vhembe and Mopani areas, in the Mphaphuli, Mutele, Mhinga, Mphephu, Mabunda and Mahumani communities.
The planned investment of R200 million will provide additional opportunities for comprehensive rural development and sound environmental management.
Ventures such as this not only boost the local economy, but also contribute to the upliftment of adjacent communities.
The initiatives demonstrated today will be replicated around the country as part of the nodal approach to development.
This requires a partnership among government, the private sector and communities.
Through this work, we will realise the great potential of our natural resources and the boundless abilities of our people.
For centuries, our people have gotten what they need from the land.
Through such initiatives, we can ensure that they continue to do so far into the future.

Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the Biodiversity Economy Operation Phakisa, Kalahari Waterfront, Thohoyandou, Limpopo

Programme Director,
Premier of Limpopo, Mr Chupu Stanley Mathabatha,
Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa,
Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom,
Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu,
Deputy Ministers and MECs
Mayor of the Vhembe District Municipality, Florence Radzilani,
King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana,Chief Livhuwani Matsila,Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be with you today as we embark on the purposeful development of our biodiversity economy.
In the Constitution of our country, we recognise and celebrate the diversity of our people.
This human diversity is reflected – and multiplied many times over – in the diversity of our country’s plant and animal life.
In the area bounded by the Indian and Atlantic oceans, by the Limpopo and Orange rivers, lives a multitude of species that makes South Africa the third most biodiverse country in the world.
For millennia, this bountiful natural heritage has sustained our people.
It has fed them, healed them, sheltered them and provided the means and the inspiration for cultural expression.
Now, we again seek to harness this biodiversity to enable our people to prosper and to flourish.
We seek to harness our ancient inheritance and indigenous knowledge to open up new opportunities for commerce, trade and entrepreneurship.
We know that this inheritance is precious and fragile, and, therefore, as we develop the economic potential of our natural resources, we are bound to ensure that we do so sustainably.
It is not far from here that the ancient kingdom of Mapungubwe grew and thrived many centuries ago.
Historians tell us that Mapungubwe developed into the largest kingdom in the sub-continent with a vibrant economy before it was abandoned in the 14th century.
It is suggested that its demise was brought about by changes to the climate that affected both the people and plants.
When rainfall decreased, the land could no longer sustain a large population using traditional farming methods, and the inhabitants had to disperse.
This is a lesson for us and for future generations that humanity’s survival depends on the sustainable use of natural resources and protection of the environment.
The destruction of our biodiversity – the loss of plant and animal species – has grave implications for our own survival and well-being.
It affects livelihoods, health, and food and water security.
However, on the other hand, sustainable maintenance of biodiversity can contribute to our efforts to eradicate poverty and create economic opportunities for our people. 
Biodiversity needs to feature in all areas of economic development, across areas such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, mining, energy, tourism and transport.
The opportunities in the biodiversity economy that the Operation Phakisa initiative identified hold great potential to reshape our rural economy and lift many rural people out of poverty.
If properly developed, the biodiversity economy can assist in accelerating transformation by providing not only employment, but also business opportunities, for black South Africans.
It is also an opportunity for innovation.
Drawing on traditional knowledge about the use of indigenous plants, there is great scope for the country’s scientists and researchers to develop products that can be manufactured in rural areas and sold across the world.
All this needs to take place alongside programmes to ensure there is no exploitation of communities or the natural resources that are so necessary for their sustenance.
In addition to the use of plants to produce cosmetics and pharmaceutical products, the biodiversity economy also involves the development of the wildlife economy through game farming, hunting, hospitality and the supply of game meat.
An additional component is eco-tourism, an area of economic development that holds vast potential.
The biodiversity economy provides an opportunity to address the exclusion of the majority of South African from such sectors of the economy.
It is a way of ensuring that the custodians of our genetic resources and the holders of our traditional knowledge are able to fully benefit from the tangible and intagible heritage they possess.
The National Biodiversity Economy Strategy, which is being considered by Cabinet, provides the guiding framework through which we will coordinate government, private sector and development partners for the inclusive growth of the sector.
This strategy sets out the measures required to develop the wildlife, biotrade and ecotourism sectors, some of which are already being implemented through the Operation Phakisa framework.
Through the development of the biodiversity economy, it is anticipated that 162,000 jobs can be created and R47 billion generated by 2030.
We aim to increase business and land ownership by previously disadvantaged individuals, boosting participation by communities, expanding cultivation of key indigenous plants by 500 hectares a year, and having 100 Blue Flag beaches designated across South Africa by 2030.
The biotrade sector has demonstrated a huge potential in promoting local economic growth.
The global demand for natural ingredients and products made from natural ingredients has been influenced by the shift towards products that have minimal impact on the environment and on people’s health.
The wildlife sector of South Africa has experienced noticeable growth over the years and employs around 100,000 people across the value chain.
This sector has been growing consistently faster than the general economy, contributing R3 billion to GDP in 2014, which is almost double the contribution it made in 2008.
Over the next 5 years, government will spend around R1.18 billion on supplying the underlying infrastructure required to grow the biodiversity economy and ensure that it contributes meaningfully to the South African economy.
Much of government’s support is centred on market development locally, regionally and internationally.
This support includes a package of support incentives for emerging farmers and producers in the primary and secondary value chains.
This support will be complimented by comprehensive rural development, industrialisation, advancement of South Africa’s regional and global integration, and the promotion of exports.
But none of this can happen without our communities.
We cannot conserve South Africa’s natural resources without the involvement of the communities which benefit from these resources every day.
Sustainable biodiversity conservation is inextricably linked with socioeconomic development and tourism.
To address the injustices of the past, the People and Parks Programme was established as a joint government-community initiative to ensure that local communities play a pivotal role in the governance of protected areas in the country.
Equally important, is the involvement of young people in these initiatives.
Without the commitment of our youth to a sustainable economy and protection of the environment through the preservation of our cultural and natural heritage, our economy cannot grow.
Our youth require skills that will ensure they are able to meaningfully contribute to the growth of their communities and our country.
I hope that both events today – the Biodiversity Economy Open Day and the People and Parks Conference – will encourage young people to get involved, be innovative and be part of our country’s development.
Since time immemorial, this land has been blessed with a wondrous abundance of plants and animals.
It is our responsibility to treasure and preserve this great natural abundance and to fully realise its potential to provide a better life for all our people.