Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Budget Vote 23 briefing


17 Jun 2009

Hon Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Ms Pricilla Tsotso Sehoole, Chief Communications Officer, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Hon Tina Joemat- Pettersson, Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, held a briefing on her speech relating to Budget Vote 23. She noted that it was now becoming the task of agriculture, forestry and fisheries to create jobs, and contribute to poverty alleviation. Agriculture was seemingly not as hard-hit by the global economic crisis, but was not shielded from it. She noted that for the first time in five years agricultural imports had exceeded exports, which was unacceptable and meant that there must be increased efforts to support local food production in communities, by communities, for communities. She noted that forestry and fisheries were now to be integrated, and the new Department would therefore comprise Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). The Ministry had embarked on processes for realignment. The Minister referred to high rates of unemployment in rural areas and thus the task of the Department would be to formulate practical programmes to address this, which would be done through the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme, which would aim to eradicate unemployment, poverty, hunger and divisions in measurable terms, and enable rural people to play a meaningful role in an inclusive economy, dealing with poverty through productive use and management of natural resources. A three pronged strategy of Agrarian Transformation; Rural Development; and Land Reform would be used. The first would be led by the new Department. The Department would also encourage investment and would be using the Development Finance Institutions to fund initiatives. All offerings would be offered at “one stop shops” It would also strengthen and broaden partnerships with organised agriculture and components such as subsistence and new farmers, and cooperatives in all fields.

The Minister noted that R150 million had been allocated for expanding the MAFISA Scheme. Targeted programmes would increase training, research and extension support in the sector. There would be training of 2 000 land reform beneficiaries, 1 000 extension officers and recruitment of a further 1 000. The Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) would be funded to R2.5 billion over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework. In addition, this Department and others would work on revitalisation of rural rail lines to increase mobility of agricultural products and improve marketing. Other initiatives would be directed to other parts of the supply chain. There would be a focus on the youth and exposing them to hands-on experience through the envisaged National Youth Service for Agriculture, and more than R22 million had been allocated to this. Work would also be done in the rural communities to design innovative models for creation of opportunities to all levels of businesses. Local production would also focus on trying to reduce the carbon footprint of the sector. The effects of agriculture on climate change as well as the effects of climate change on agriculture would be investigated with a view to protecting the sector from unfair global competition while also stimulating increased production. The duty to protect public health also included ensuring that animals and plants were disease free. There would be attempts to minimise negative impacts of high food prices on the poor and vulnerable.

The Minister touched upon the inclusion of fisheries, noting the major challenges and pledging to promote the conservation and sustainable utilisation of our natural resources. She also pledged that in this sector, as with the others, work with the stakeholders would always include the communities affected.


Q: The Minister was asked to clarify her statement in the budget vote speech that there was about R90 million that had been set aside to increase land production. The journalist wanted to know how land production would be increased using these funds.

A: The Minister responded that there was more than R99 million that was intended to mitigate high production costs and high input cost in the sector. The five priorities of the ruling party as spelt out in its election manifesto included land as well as agrarian reform and food security. As the President had indicated, there was a drive to move the South Africa economy from a net importer to one which could export food. For instance, in the fertiliser industry the inputs pushed up the cost of fertiliser. This money would be used in the entire spread of the value chain and the Department sought ways of finding how it could impact on the value chain, not only for emerging farmers but also for commercial farmers. The Department had realised that if it only made interventions for emerging, and not also for commercial farmers, then it would fail to turn around agricultural production. This required improving the qualitative output of South Africa's agricultural products.

Q: A journalist asked the Minister how she intended to deal with land that was not used productively by beneficiaries of land reform and how her Department would use the legal system. Another journalist asked, in relation to the same issue, whether it was not an inherent contradiction that the communities who stood to benefit from land reform and were expected to contribute to increased food production could nevertheless return to subsistence farming.

A: The Minister responded that there had been a court ruling against the “use-it-or-lose-it” strategy, unless the State could prove that it had made some interventions in terms of assistance for the emerging farmer to produce efficiently. This was an important ruling because it was now incumbent on the State to prove that it had assisted the farmer, be it through technology, through skills development or scientific research. It placed the onus on the State to prove that it had assisted the emerging farmer. The ruling could in fact revolutionise the opportunities that could be made available to emerging farmers. That was why joint ventures were necessary, because the State on its own would not be able to provide the assistance required by emerging farmers. There were three types of emerging farmers. The first would be the person who was really a subsistence farmer, merely wanted to have backyard food production and was not really interested in becoming a commercial farmer. The second category would be the intermediary farmer, who could sufficiently farm on communal land and on commonage. The third category would be the emerging farmer who wanted to become a commercial farmer. In this instance the government sought to have joint ventures between the emerging farmer and the commercial farmer, in which they were not allowed to present the land as collateral. Land had thus been provided by the State through its land programmes and the law did not allow such land to be used as collateral against borrowing. Communities could therefore not offer their land as collateral and so the land would be put in a trust, and then a parallel structure was set up to run it as a viable commercial entity.  It was a land use management company in which shareholding was offered. The State bought into the company in the form of equity, which was held through any development agency. The State’s equity holding, in the form of shares, would be warehoused until the company or the emerging farmer was capable of taking over. The idea was that at the end of the day there would be an exit strategy for the commercial farmer, at a time when the emerging farmer had incrementally developed his skills or had skills transferred, and at that stage the emerging farmer would then have the opportunity to be the majority shareholder. The Department was also looking at restructured debt for farmers who had lost their land, by making it possible for the State to exercise the right of first refusal, then returning the land to the State (since the Land Bank was a State institution) instead of liquidating the farm. The State could then recoup the farm and ensure that it remained in the hand of black capital. This would ensure that there was no weakening of the stream of land that came into the hands of black people, otherwise it would be defeating its own policy of trying to get 30% of the land in the hands of black people. If the State were simply to repossess farms this would further curtail the ability of black farmers to own land.

Q: A journalist asked the Minister how the Department was dealing with the issue of marine life poaching.

A: The Minister responded that the Department had been engaging with a number of fishing stakeholders and fishing communities. The Department had held meetings with them, and was still engaging them intensively on a daily basis. The Minister had highly experienced and capable experts in her office who had been taken on board to advise her on fishing communities on a day-to-day basis. There were meetings held with stakeholders to determine how fishing could be conducted in a sustainable way and how fishing communities could be provided with alternative economic industries such as agriculture, tourism, construction, food processing and other business services. Communities would continue poaching if they were not provided with an alternative livelihood. The Minister would engage in a vociferous Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) in those areas, to determine if there were alternative agricultural crops that could cope with the acidity of the land, and experts were currently carrying out analysis of the soil and environment. Monitoring provided only one opportunity for addressing poaching. The alternative opportunity was to provide sustainable jobs for those communities in place of the poaching to ensure that there were alternatives for economic survival.

Q: A journalist asked whether there was any way to turn around the quota system, since there were complaints that big companies had all the quotas and that this was not conducive for the production of cheap fish.

A: The Minister responded that the quota system definitely required evaluation and review and a panel would be set up to look at the manner in which the quotas had been allocated, as well as the opportunities that would arise once they had been revised if there was a need for such a revision. As soon as this panel reported back to the Minister she would be able to take decisions on an informed basis. She was a politician and not a commercial farmer. The long term plans that the Department had around the quota system were to ensure that quotas were not only located in the Western Cape, but also in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. These discussions also looked at fishing quotas for the entire African continent. The Department also sought to improve the aqua-culture industry, in line with agriculture, and could become an important alternative to fishing quotas.

Q: A journalist asked whether there were any long term plans to de-commodify food production in general. There had been a major meeting of agriculturalists, economists and civil society on the side lines of the World Economic Forum last week, calling for food basket zones to be set up in areas on the African continent where there was good soil and good rainfall. This food would then be traded internally at lower prices to reduce the reliance on food imports.

A: The Minister said that there was ongoing debate on a local and regional level on this issue in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as the African Union (AU). The Minister would be in Libya at the end of the month to continue South Africa’s active participation in the debate. The State supported this debate but had not yet taken a decision until it was satisfied that such an intervention was necessary and implementable.

Q: A journalist commented that the Minister's predecessor had a particularly abrasive relationship with organised agriculture, often insisting that they were all rather brutal to their workers. Without commercial agriculture the plans that the Minister had put forward in the budget speech would not work. The journalist asked how the Minister would proceed with these plans.

A: The Minister responded that the Ministry and Department aimed to develop relationships and partnerships with organised agriculture in recognition of the fact that without organised agriculture there could not be a turn around strategy. The Department engaged with commercial farmers on a regular basis, and the joint ventures sought could only happen as a result of the goodwill of those in commercial agriculture and the co-operation of emerging farmers. There was an attempt to bring the three agricultural unions together so that they could have a closer troika working with the Minister. It was also important to understand that commercial agriculture opportunities need not be undermined and were not necessarily a negative growth opportunity but an expansion of the country's agricultural sector. Opportunities for exporting agricultural inputs to those other countries would arise. Instead of reducing the opportunities available to organised agriculture, the Department wanted to find a fine balance that would suit both commercial farmers and increase opportunities for emerging black farmers. It was undesirable to have a reductionist approach that failed to take into account the needs of organised agriculture to expand their businesses.

The Minister also stated that not all of organised agriculture abused their farm workers and therefore sweeping accusations should not be made. There were cases where there was a large scale abuse of farm workers and it was incumbent on the Department to address this abuse. It was also incumbent on the Department of Labour to analyse and evaluate where there were problems around issues of salaries and where basic incomes were compromised. Punitive measures would be implemented if basic incomes were compromised. The Departments would also look at issues such as security of tenure of the farm workers who, in many instances, eked out a miserable living. The Department would clamp down on any human rights abuses of farm workers. The Department's concern was to look at how to develop “agri-villages”  - areas of sustainable livelihood that would help to curb rural-urban migration as a result of economic hardships and poverty. This would allow farm workers alternative living and working conditions. The Department would have to look at providing basic water and sanitation services in line with the Millennium Development Goals for the farm workers.

Q: A journalist asked whether serious consideration could be given to marijuana as a crop with multi billion rand economic benefits.

A: The Minister responded that the policy on Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) did not only affect marijuana but also other medicinal plants. The Department was working with traditional leaders and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to look at IKS such as essential oil extraction and other practices that had been in existence for generations in South African communities. She did say that some of the practices had been criminalised.

Q: A journalist asked the Minister what her approach was to increasing certain agricultural input tariffs, since in the past it had been said that the Department of Agriculture did not have enough negotiating power in this regard.

A: The Minister noted that her Department was engaging with the European Union, in close co-operation also with the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) to look at solutions. The Department was concerned about the Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland agreement that compromised South Africa by allowing in cheap goods through these countries. A technical Cabinet Committee had been set up, which was meeting regularly.

Q: A journalist asked the Minister whether the Department was looking at any pilot projects in terms of alternative crop farming for fishing communities who relied on marine life poaching for their economic survival.

A: The Minister responded that the Department would not enter into a project until an Environmental Impact Analysis had been conducted, and a due diligence with Industrial Development Corporation. The Department was wary of rushing headlong into any project since there had been too many failed projects in the past

Q: A journalist referred to the three groupings of the beneficiaries of land reform indicated by the Minister, and asked what the percentages were, seen against the target of 30%, for distribution to previously disadvantaged persons.

A: The Minister responded that the Land Affairs portfolio was no longer with the Department of Agriculture although there was a symbiotic relationship through which the relevant departments were working together for an integrated rural development strategy. The Departments were not singling out a particular group for development in a project but were focusing on entire communities. She did not have specific statistics.

Q: A journalist asked about the allocation of R22 million for youth skills development in the field of Agriculture. There were about 290 young people who were set to receive bursaries towards scarce skills. The journalist wanted to know what the criteria would be for the granting of the bursaries.

A: The Minister responded that the youth would be given opportunities in agriculture through agricultural colleges and various faculties at different universities. The Department was working with the Ministries of Basic Education and Higher Education to resuscitate agricultural colleges. The bursaries and the internships were done in conjunction with other Departments.

The briefing was adjourned.

Budget Vote 23
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Delivered by Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

“Working together, we can do more”

Honourable Speaker
Deputy Minister of the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Dr Pieter Mulder
Chairperson of Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Mr Lulu Johnson
Members of Parliament
Members of Executive Councils from the Provinces responsible for Agriculture
Heads of Department
Government officials
Distinguished guests
Colleagues and Friends
Ladies and Gentlemen

Honourable Members

I am both honoured and humbled to be part of a developmental State that is committed to working with its people to do more and create a better life. South Africans will find that this Government is not only caring and hard working, but also has concrete implementation plans for the work we have been tasked with by the electorate.

We are starting our term at a time when the world is in recession. Our country has already begun to feel the pinch of the forecasted contraction of the economy by between -0.7% and -5.2%. Our primary concern is over job losses during this period and the challenge of creating sustainable jobs.
Last month, the economist Mike Schussler remarked that it might be the first time since the 1800s that the agricultural sector is bigger than the mining sector. It is argued that it is more likely that the agricultural sector will create more jobs out of every R1 million of investment than any other sector.

Other sectors have already suffered huge job losses. It is now becoming the task of agriculture, forestry and fisheries to create jobs, and contribute to poverty alleviation.

 As much as agriculture is seemingly better-off in the global economic crisis it is by no means shielded from its effects. For the first time in five years agricultural imports have exceed exports. This is not only unacceptable but further vindicates our resolve to support local food production in communities, by communities for communities.

Honourable Members, the components of Forestry and Fisheries will be smoothly integrated into the new Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. In this regard, we have embarked on processes to re-align the structures, budgets, human resources, programmes, activities and delivery channels.

The ruling party’s Election Manifesto points out that: “Rural development and agrarian reform is integral to the struggle to create a better life for all. … (Because it is in these areas) where the majority of our people … continue to live in conditions of degradation and poverty. This must change”.
President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address correctly accounts for the status quo as it obtains to these rural areas, because it is true that: “Unemployment in rural areas is disproportionately high …”. The rural masses represent the majority of this Department’s stakeholders. We have arrived at a point where we must listen to their voices.

These pronouncements go further than merely saying we must change their conditions of abject poverty and degradation. They task all of us in Government to translate these policy statements into practical programmes that are written up in measurable business plans. That is why we are proud to announce the Programme that gives strategic expression to this, namely the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme.

It must become an implementable programme. It must be aimed at eradicating unemployment, poverty, hunger and divisions in measurable terms. We have promised, and are now implementing, a Comprehensive Rural Development Programme.

The vision of the CRDP is about enabling rural people to play a meaningful role in an inclusive economy, thereby dealing effectively with rural poverty through productive use and management of natural resources at their disposal. To do this we adopted a three-pronged strategy of Agrarian Transformation; Rural Development; and Land Reform.

Our Department will lead the Agrarian Transformation programme of the CRDP, which will be driven by the Provincial Departments of Agriculture and local authorities will manage projects. We have already started to introduce pilot projects in Giyani in Limpopo and Riemvasmaak in the Northern Cape, which have been selected on the basis of the levels of poverty, state of readiness and the level of participation by communities.

The lessons that will be drawn from these pilots will inform the design and implementation in other identified areas.

Honourable Speaker

We will ensure that we increase production and massify the results of the commodity strategies on livestock, grain, fruit and cotton. In these areas we are providing leadership and support in the establishment of viable livestock and crop enterprises with market linkages and specific job targets.

We will also be addressing food production at household level by providing training to household members to establish vegetable-tunnels for household food production. More importantly we will be aggressively providing market linkages for the emerging farmers and further provide marketing infrastructure and agro-processing facilities for these rural communities.

The Agricultural Research Council and other state-owned enterprises will provide technical assistance to the pilot projects. It will also initiate research projects aimed at adapting technologies to rural areas to promote sustainability and profitability of existing enterprises.

We will encourage investors and Development Finance Institutions like the National Development Agency, the Industrial Development Corporation, the Independent Development Trust, the Development Bank of South Africa and the Land Bank to fund some of these initiatives.

Ons glo dat ons, deur die Allesomvattende Plattelandse Ontwikkelingsplan, ‘n soliede fondasie gebou het vir betekenisvolle verandering in die landbou sektor. Ons sal, tesame met hierdie gemeenskappe, ‘n volledige besigheidsmodel ontwikkel wat mense sal inspireer om of op die platteland te bly of terug te trek na die voedsel produserende gebiede.

Hierdie program sal die voordele van grootskaalse ekonomiese en sosiale infrastruktuur ontwikkeling egalig oor die Suid Afrikaanse hinterland versprei.

Die mees pertinente punt hier, Agbare Lede, is dat ons geen program of projek gaan aanpak sonder om dit deeglik na te vors en te verpak in ‘n haalbare besigheidsplan nie. En selfs meer belangrik, ons gaan geen beplanning doen rondom die ontwikkeling van die platteland sonder die mense van die platteland nie.
Hierdie regering is geskoei op die wil van die mense.

That is why we will emphasise the axiom of nothing about our people, without our people.

Honourable Members

We will broaden and strengthen our partnerships with organised agriculture, and those components that still need to be organised, including subsistence and new farmers as well as cooperatives in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

The latter includes 450 cooperatives ranging from producer input supply, live-stock and commodity groups. We will increase this number by one hundred, based on a needs analysis, by the end of the financial year. There are also 400 self-help groups that are based on savings mobilisation for the purpose of enterprise development.

We have allocated R150 million for this financial year for expanding the Mafisa scheme. We have already accredited 10 financial institutions ranging from agricultural companies, development financial institutions, and rural financial cooperatives to on-lend Mafisa funds to end users.

Mafisa has committed a total of R545 million to financial intermediaries for funding to emerging and new farmers.

The Khula­-Mafisa initiative has managed to leverage R116 million from commercial banks to provide funding to those emerging farmers who are able to repay loans but may not necessarily have sufficient collateral.

We will increase accredited outlets to two per province for increased access to finance.

This Government remains committed to the strengthening of its support to commercial agriculture, because it has a critical role to play in economic growth, job creation, food security and the transformation of the industry.

Together we will accelerate land reform, increase the number of black entrepreneurs in agri-business, raise agricultural production, promote trade and provide access to support services to target groups.

Honourable Speaker,

This Department will redouble its efforts to give practical expression to its constitutional mandate of food security by creating an environment in which adequate food is available for all. An environment in which hunger no longer thrives. And an environment in which mal-nutrition is eradicated. 

We will review the existing food security programmes to take into consideration other interventions that are based on social development and welfare, education and health programmes. We must produce good, nutritious food where people live. We must do this in a sustainable and cost-effective way.

We will, through working with rural communities, develop programmes that are based on sound agro-ecology principles so that we leave to those who may come after us, soil that remains full of nutrients and the capacity to produce good food.

Our food security programmes will, over time, evolve to bear the fruits of food sovereignty, where people are able to grow food in a sustainable and self-sufficient way.

Ons moet die logika volg dat goeie gesonde kos net uit goeie gesonde landbou grond kan groei.

Honourable Speaker

Through both internal and external training programmes, we will increase targeted training, research and extension support for the sector. During this financial year, we will train 2 000 land reform beneficiaries as well as conduct and publish research documents to assist especially the emerging sector with vital production information.
In total, we will train 1 000 extension officers and recruit another 1 000 over the MTEF period, which means 1 000 sustainable and decent jobs for extension officers. 


As part of the agrarian transformation drive we will consolidate the offerings of all the national funding schemes, including Agri-BEE, Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme, Ilima/Letsema and Land Care, into a single national facility, a virtual "one-stop shop", for the funding of projects and rural businesses. This is an important part of the alignment of agricultural support services under the Department linked to land reform processes.

The current allocation for the CASP is R715 million, for Illima/Letsema it is R50 million, for Agri-BEE it is R100 million and for Land Care it is R48 million. The total allocation for development support through the new funding facility is almost one billion Rand.

The CASP will be funded to the tune of R2.5 billion over the medium term expenditure framework period. This support to new and emerging farmers will be both targeted and comprehensive.

This will support our efforts to promote massive production of food, feed and fibre; to create decent jobs and generate sustainable incomes; and to create a sense of shared development and dignity among especially rural women, the aged and the youth.
We have, together with industry stakeholders, launched the Agri-BEE Charter Council to monitor and report on broad-based black economic empowerment initiatives. We are committed to improve and increase the number of black commercial enterprises.

Honourable Members,

Improved agro-logistics has the potential to improve bulk agriculture cargo, improve efficiency of food movement with the cost efficiency manifesting itself in the reduced cost of food processes. We will continue to work with our colleagues to revitalise the rural railway branch lines as a measure to increase the mobility of agricultural cargo from road back to rail to complete this work in this term of government.

Furthermore, we will facilitate the establishment of agricultural marketing infrastructure for land and agrarian reform beneficiaries and improve the efficiency of agricultural logistics for all commodity value chains. This will include systematic efforts in irrigation projects such as Mokolo River augmentation, the Vaalharts/Taung and Makathini irrigation schemes.

Honourable Speaker,

Today, young people are faced with different, but equally difficult challenges they faced in 1976. They face a lack of opportunities, disease, hunger, and a shortage of skills.
Today our response must be to do more than merely absorb raw data like the Labour Force Survey of Statistics South Africa, which indicates that more than thirty three per cent of youth are unemployed.

Today it is time for us to say this number is too high. That, in the words of President Jacob Zuma when he said that, “… we shall not rest, and we dare not falter …” in our bid to bring meaningful, tangible and sustainable change to all our people, including our youth. 

Together we can, must and will do more to make the youth an integral part of a new, more inclusive economy.
We will achieve this by exposing young people to hands-on experience in the field of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries through the envisaged National Youth Service for Agriculture. This will be done by providing strong linkages with the bursary scheme, internships and mentorships linked to incubator programs. 

The department will avail more than R22 million for this initiative. About 290 young people will receive support in the form of bursaries towards scarce skills, while an additional 183 graduates will benefit from internships.

Also, about 265 young people will undergo mentorship training through incubator programmes in partnership with institutions like Perishable Products Export Control Board, the National Wool Growers Association and other participating institutions. 

In total, 938 young people will benefit through targeted skills development initiatives. We will continue to strengthen small and medium sized enterprises through partnerships with other Government Departments to ensure that agro-processing is brought closer to the production areas.

Within the next quarter, we will look into a possibility of signing an Agreement with the DTI to ensure that there is alignment of agricultural production and agro-processing cooperation.

This will include the promotion of youth entrepreneurship involvement through agro-processing grants. More than R99 million was set aside to increase agricultural production. In the next six months, both the DTI and the DAFF will identify an area of investment to develop and promote community-based production models on fruits, essential oils and agro-processing.

We will further work with our rural communities to design innovative models for the creation of sustainable economic opportunities in agro-ecology for SMMEs and cooperatives, in the context of the CRDP. We will focus on local production to replace imports so that we minimise the carbon footprint of the sector.
Honourable Members, none of us can ignore the global drive towards natural resource management and sustainable development practices that will ensure a more secure future for our children.

We will have to consider the effects of agriculture on climate change as well as the effects of climate change on agriculture. We know that agriculture is one of the many Green House Gas emitters and therefore we must begin to quantify what the situation in South Africa is.

We need to develop appropriate responses and invest in cleaner production methodologies, create green job opportunities, promote innovation and apply scientific technology in the production processes. Our Government’s Plans agree that investments in employment, economic and development opportunities must focus on industries and facilities that are designed to mitigate the effects of climate change.

We will look at the financing mechanisms specified in the Kyoto Protocol, and devise specific projects that will generate carbon finance through, for instance, the Clean Development Mechanism, as a new form of foreign direct investment.

Honourable Speaker, allow me to restate the importance of the local agricultural sector. The developed countries continue to subsidise their agriculture. Our response must be to protect ours from unfair global competition while also stimulating increased production.
And as part of our duty to protect public health, it is a priority to ensure that our animals and plants are disease free. We are also improving our inspection services at all South African border posts, in preparation for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. We have for instance increased the number of sniffer dogs and their handlers for the detection of prohibited agricultural substances.

This programme is already in full operation at the O.R. Tambo International Airport and has now been expanded to Cape Town International Air­port, and soon also at Durban International Airport.

The DAFF will manage communicable diseases, improve on production quality to ensure enhanced food safety and finalise the strategy for food safety within 2009 to ensure a Food Recall System is in place for 2010.  South Africa will provide adequate, healthy and safe food for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Within SADC, the department will continue to promote regional integration, inter-African trade, sanitary and phyto-sanitory measures, food security, humanitarian assistance, development of early warning and risk management systems. 

We are also involved in the promotion of food security and improving agricultural production to minimise the negative impact of high food prices and the global financial crisis on the poor and vulnerable, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

At the level of South-South co-operation, we are responsible for the implementation of the India, Brazil and South Africa mandate within the agricultural sector. In the Agriculture Working Group of IBSA we work to strengthen research and capacity building, particularly of veterinary services, agri-engineering, animal production and animal health, agricultural trade and poverty reduction.

There are a number of projects underway with Argentina, China, India and Thailand, strengthening our relations with these countries. We will work tirelessly to create a better South Africa, on a better continent, in a better more just world.

Honourable Members,

With the new mandate we will make a significant contribution to eradicate poverty through the Forestry Livelihoods Programme. We will focus on basic needs, saving of cash resources, and a safety-net. We know that firewood, building poles, medicinal plants, and edible fruits are all critical to the livelihoods of the rural poor.

We will develop human resources through the forestry sector skills development initiatives and promote employment through commercial forestry activities like afforestation and downstream activities. The integration of forestry programmes into the provincial and municipal development plans will assist the Million Trees Programme. Government and its partners this year aspire to exceed the 1.8 million trees they planted last year.
We will actively pursue the afforestation targets of 10 000 hectares and the implementation of the Forest Enterprise programme. The focus will remain on encouraging co-operatives, simplifying and streamlining the regulatory environment, training and extension, supporting the implementation of rural credit and offering incentives for new entrants.

Honourable Speaker

The department’s mandate was further extended to include fisheries. Declining fish stocks, increasing competition over access to shrinking resources and rapidly rising costs are major challenges that need to be managed effectively. In 2009, we will continue to promote the conservation and sustainable utilisation of our natural resources.      

We will work with all stakeholders, especially coastal communities, to ensure a more equitable dispensation in which the traditions, skills and cultures of fisher communities are retained for posterity.

Honourable Members, the Budget of R2.79 billion will be re-prioritised to ensure that the Department delivers tangible results in the CRDP.

We are neither fooled into thinking that new configuration of Government will be without growing pains, nor are we intimidated by the enormity of the tasks associated with the successes that we must and will achieve in this department.

Hierdie pad is die verkose pad. Dis ‘n wel-deurdagte pad. Wat ook al vir ons voorlê, en hoe lank die pad ook al mag wees; dit is ‘n pad wat ons aanpak met geesdrif en toegewydheid, en met die alom teenwoordige bewustheid dat ons mense hulle drome en wense aan hierdie regering toevertrou het. Hierdie breë uitleg wat ons vandag aan u voorhou, Agbare Lede, is ons manier van bevestig dat elke reis begin met die eerste tree.

Honourable Speaker, allow me to pay tribute to the former Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, the late comrade Dirk Du Toit. His tireless efforts to bring meaningful change to rural communities are well documented.

As we salute this compatriot let us honour his memory by picking up the spear he carried when he was alive. Let us carry it with the same compassion, commitment and quiet confidence.

It is with sadness that I have to announce the untimely passing away of the Deputy Director General for Corporate and Financial Services, Tommy Marais, last night. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues.
Honourable Members

Allow me to thank the former Minister of Agriculture, comrade Lulu Xingwana, as she hands over the baton.
I look forward to working with the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Honourable Pieter Mulder, as well as with the Chairpersons and Members of the various parliamentary committees. I am also looking forward to work with all the stakeholders in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.

I would like to thank the Director General and the entire staff component of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Directors General of the Departments that are relinquishing the units of Forestry and Fisheries, the provincial departments of agriculture and the state-owned entities for their participation in work of the Department.

I hope that honourable Members will mentor, monitor and evaluate the impact of government programmes in their constituencies in every nook and cranny of our beautiful country. Your oversight will justify and vindicate the confidence of our people in this government. We will not be satisfied with anything less.

We want to reinforce the message that we have worked with the people of South Africa in crafting these exciting programmes before the elections. Now, we will work with them in implementing these programmes, so that “working together, we can do more”. Deur saam te werk kan ons meer doen.

Baie dankie. Kea leboga. Siyabonga. Nkosi kakhulu. I thank you.


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