About 162,000 jobs and R47bn can be generated by the development of the biodiversity economy, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday.
Ramaphosa, speaking at the launch of the Biodiversity Economy Operation Phakisa, said that exploiting old inheritance and indigenous knowledge could open up new opportunities for trade, trade and entrepreneurship.
Ramaphosa said that for thousands of years the abundant natural heritage has supported people in South Africa.
"It nourished, healed, sheltered and provided the means and inspiration for cultural expression," said the president at the Kalahari Waterfront in Thohoyandou, Limpopo.
"Now we are trying again to use this biodiversity to enable our people to flourish and prosper."
The president said that through the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy, which the Cabinet is considering, a framework will be created to coordinate the government, private sector and development partners for the inclusive growth of the sector.
"This strategy describes the measures needed to develop the wildlife, bio-trade and ecotourism sectors, some of which are already being implemented through Operation Phakisa.
"We want to increase the business and land ownership by formerly disadvantaged individuals, stimulate the participation of communities, expand the cultivation of important indigenous plants by 500 hectares per year and have 100 Blue Flag beaches designated by South Africa in 2030."
He said that this would also include bio-trading, which has shown enormous potential in promoting local economic growth.
"The global demand for natural ingredients and products made from natural ingredients is influenced by the shift to products that have a minimal impact on the environment and on people's health."
Ramaphosa also said that the natural sector in South Africa has experienced remarkable growth in recent years and has about 100,000 people in the value chain.
"This sector has grown consistently faster than the general economy and in 2014 it contributed to R3 billion in GDP, almost double the contribution it made in 2008.
"Over the next five years, the government will spend around 1.1 billion euros on delivering the underlying infrastructure needed to grow the biodiversity economy and make it a meaningful contribution to the South African economy."
& # 39; Destruction of our biodiversity & # 39;
He said that government support will focus on market development, locally, regionally and internationally.
"This support includes a package of support incentives for emerging farmers and producers in primary and secondary value chains," said Ramaphosa.
"This support will be complemented by extensive rural development, industrialization, promotion of South Africa's regional and global integration and the promotion of exports."
He said that the opportunities in the biodiversity economy that have identified the Operation Phakisa Initiative offer great potential to revitalize the rural economy and bring many rural people out of poverty.
"If well developed, the biodiversity economy can help accelerate transformation by not only providing jobs, but also business opportunities for black South Africans."
Ramaphosa advised that the biodiversity of the country is costly and vulnerable. Therefore, the economic potential of South Africa's natural resources must be developed sustainably.
"The destruction of our biodiversity – the loss of plant and animal species – has serious implications for our own survival and well-being.
"It affects livelihood, health and food and water security.
"On the other hand, sustainable conservation of biodiversity can contribute to our efforts to eradicate poverty and create economic opportunities for our people.
"It is our responsibility to cherish and preserve this great natural abundance and to fully realize its potential for a better life for all our people."