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PEDI welcomes probe into agricultural value of the PHA

PEDI has welcomed the announcement by the Western Cape Provincial Department of Agriculture that a study will be undertaken to understand the agricultural value of the Philippi Horticultural Area. In a statement to the media, PEDI CEO Thomas Swana said that credible information to inform decisions on future land use in the area is urgently needed.

MEDIA STATEMENT FROM THE CEO

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The PHA has a critical role to play as a catalyst for economic transformation in Philippi and Cape Town. PEDI believes that the optimisation of its use can result in a range of benefits for new business opportunities and increased employment for the local community as well as for the City. We see the PHA as a key resource for urban agriculture and envisage a future where, as an extension of our newly launched PEDI Urban Agriculture Academy, it can be the pivotal element of a programme for the development of emerging farmers, to provide land they can exit onto and where they can establish themselves as future commercial farmers.

This can drive the long awaited use of the Philippi Fresh Produce Market as a facility specifically designed and built, almost twelve (12) years ago, to accommodate the needs of emerging farmers which cannot be met by the Epping Market which is designed for large commercial farmers. The Phillipi market has never been utilised for its intended purpose due to Cape Town and the Province not having had a sufficient number of emerging farmers to make the market viable.

Proper management of this agricultural asset can transform the PHA into a vibrant farming node that will see land vacancies being taken up, unproductive land becoming productive, and the creation of the potential new businesses and jobs.

It is not only farming that is possible here – there is also potential for a rich ecotourism economy in the area which few people in Cape Town recognise. This provides yet another opportunity for entrepreneurial and economic development.

We welcome this formal evaluation of the land which will enable the appropriate authorities to properly police the many current misuses and abuses of the land which cause contamination of the soil and pollution of the Cape Flats Aquifer – itself a key resource for farming in the area and a resource with enormous potential to alleviate the water shortages in the City of Cape Town.

PEDI has a long track record of active engagement with a range of stakeholders in the area and has conducted research into the economic potential that proper investment and management of the industrial and agricultural components of Philippi can yield.

The economic transformation of this very important part of the city depends on clear understanding of its potential and proper protection and preservation of its assets.

PEDI envisions the PHA as a catalytic under-optimised resource which can be tied to the future development of the Philippi East Industrial Area as an area that can accommodate the additional value of agri-processing of products grown in the PHA. There are further links being explored by the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism to connect the development of Philippi East and the expansion of Cape Town International Airport into an Airport City and later the Cape Town Aerotropolis.

If all these elements can be strategically connected, starting with the optimisation of the PHA, it will become possible to realise the potential identified in research commissioned by PEDI in 2014/2015 which suggested that the area has the capacity to generate 52 000 permanent and sustainable jobs for the marginalised and unemployed youth of Philippi and surrounding areas. This research, Philippi Highest and Best Use Market Study conducted by Demacon Market Studies for PEDI, can be downloaded at http://pedi.org.za/demacon-reports/.

PEDI believes that alternatives to greenfield developments on the PHA do exist which can relieve the pressure on the City for housing. This would require forward thinking on the optimal use of already occupied land and a reconsideration of the scale of informal developments that have evolved in Philippi during the past 22 years.

Given the proposed 6 new MyCiti bus routes converging in Philippi, PEDI advocates that these informal township areas should be redeveloped using the principles of transport-orientated development and urban densification to meet the land and housing requirements.

Thomas Swana
CEO: (PEDI) Philippi Economic Development Initiative

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Thomas Swana interviewed on SABC

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