Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Minister's Budget Speech
18 Apr 2011
Budget Vote Speech by the Honourable Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, MP Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
19 Apr 2011
Honourable Deputy Minister
Good morning to you all and thank you for attending this debate!
In discussing the outlook of the global economy, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring meetings have warned of uncertainty. The surge in food prices is the biggest threat to the world’s poor, pushing 44 million people into poverty over the past year. The world is risking losing a generation due to the impact of food prices on the world’s poor.
While the world economy has grown exponentially during the past 50 years, it is clear that designing appropriate poverty alleviation tools remains a challenge. It is also clear that the gap between the haves and have-nots continues to grow.
It means the world has not learned from the warnings of the past, such as the words of Mahatma Gandhi who declared poverty “a worst form of violence”.
Our very own former President Nelson Mandela once said that, “massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our time – times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation – that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils”.
Our government has heeded the call and is paying particular attention on poverty alleviation.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has been mandated by the Honourable President Jacob Zuma to deliver on a number of government priorities, in line with the New Growth Path.
I hereby wish to account to this house today as follows:
In global terms, our 2011/12 budget of 4.719 billion rand allocates 890 million rand to agricultural production, health and food safety, 1.2 billion to food security and agrarian reform, 190 million rand to trade promotion and market access, as well as 770 million rand to our forestry branch, and 324 million to fisheries management.
I am pleased to record that only 16.5% of our budget goes towards administration.
We have allocated 124 million rand for interventions towards addressing water reticulation, refurbishment and installation of irrigation systems and other sub-surface drainage canals in agricultural areas across the country, and the funds available for agrarian reform include an allocation of 57 million rand to land care projects, one billion rand to the Comprehensive Agriculture Support programme (CASP) and another 400 million rand for the Ilima / Letsema Campaign.
Of this amount, about one third will support the extension recovery plan, ensuring that we have enough adequately trained and resourced extension officers throughout the country. In addition, 50 million rand will be spent to revitalise colleges of agriculture; and 672 million rand for on and off-farm infrastructure.
Honourable speaker, in total we have received over 700 million rand more this year than in the 2010/11 financial year – a 17.9% increase, which I am sure you will agree reflects government’s seriousness about the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.
Our over-arching responsibility is towards Outcome 7 of this government, which relates to the achievement of “vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities, with food security for all”. Short as it may be, this statement is loaded with enormous implementation challenges.
We have seen food shortages and where rising food prices have sparked unprecedented uprisings in some parts of the world. Alleviating poverty by increasing the productive capacity of some of the poorest parts of the country is one of the most effective ways of mitigating the effects of high global food prices, and we are striving to do just that.
We are not alone in this: Africa as a whole has some 47% of its arable land uncultivated, and a recent Harvard study shows that the continent could increase food production by at least 1.5% a year. So, we all have a lot of work to do.
Speaker, in all our efforts, we are guided by broader government policy documents such as the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) and the New Growth Path (NGP) Framework, both of which have identified the agricultural sector as one of the sectors in which there is significant potential to create jobs.
The New Growth Path targets opportunities for 300 000 households in agricultural smallholder schemes, plus a further 145 000 jobs in agro-processing by 2020. In the medium-term, we have committed to creating 130 000 jobs in agriculture, forestry and fisheries by 2014, and to establish 50 000 commercially-oriented smallholder farmers. Honourable members, we are determined to meet these targets.
Where are these new smallholders meant to be established? The short answer is, everywhere. But practically speaking, we envisage focussing our energies in two types of areas.
Firstly in the former homelands, where there is a large concentration of subsistence producers, with over 3 million hectares of under-utilised arable land. Much of this land is under the control of traditional leaders, such as Chief Tyali from the Eastern Cape, who is with us today.
Secondly we will seek to establish and support smallholders on land acquired through land reform, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform.
We are in the process of launching a plan for smallholder farmers to improve access to finance, to markets and market infrastructure, as well as to water resources; on improving extension and technical support, including access to mechanised services; and locates these initiatives within the context of a sustainable agro-ecological approach to agriculture.
One significant aspect of improving access to markets is what we call the “Zero Hunger Plan”, modelled on a similarly named Brazilian programme which uses government’s procurement systems to purchase food from smallholders, which is made available for free or at subsidised rates to those in our communities who are hungry.
Government buys an enormous amount of food each and every day, and these purchases need to be strategically targeted to support the emerging sectors.
We are committed to attain a socially transformed and equitable sector, while at the same time increasing production and competitiveness to ensure profitability, and ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources.
Honourable members, I would like to signal upfront that the agriculture sector’s ambitious job creation plans will require the active involvement and contribution of the private sector.
We intend to encourage our major supermarket chains to accommodate smallholder suppliers to a greater extent than they currently do. This is not a punitive measure, but rather the promotion of a win-win scenario that can be modelled on real-life examples from South Africa and elsewhere.
We will also look to the private sector to assist us to address the logistical challenges that will confront us as we open up opportunities for smallholder farmers to supply our urban markets around the country.
We intend to build on the numerous praiseworthy initiatives of our various commodity organisations in improving support to smallholders and linking them to markets. We also intend to capitalise on the ingenuity and initiative of our banking sector in order to improve smallholders’ access to affordable and appropriate financial services.
We will require new marketing infrastructure to serve the needs of smallholders, and we will depend to a large degree on the private sector for its expertise and capacity in this area. Similarly, we look to the private sector for assistance in improving access to affordable agricultural inputs to serve the needs of the full spectrum of subsistence, smallholder, and large-scale commercial farmers.
Let me here commend the international funders which have stepped in to ensure that rural sector entrepreneurs have access to funds to cater for their production requirements and future investments; but in future, I believe these resources can and should be found inside the country.
Of utmost importance, is the need to improve the flow of information and ideas between government and the private sector with a view to identifying new and better opportunities in which we can invest.
All of the above partnerships are expected to contribute towards rural job creation, and the promotion of sustainable economic livelihoods for communities.
Floods and flood relief
For the agricultural sector, good rains hold a promise for a bumper harvest, but too much rain can spell disaster, as was the case earlier this year when continuous downpours led to flooding along the Vaal and Orange rivers, washing away crops, livestock and infrastructure, and, most regrettably, leading to the loss of human life.
We responded swiftly and decisively; our farmers and rural communities deserve nothing less. We assisted flood-stricken farmers to recover from severe losses and rebuild their farms and lives. The department has been allocated just over R200 million rand over the next three years for flood relief, and we will continue to focus on rehabilitating the production infrastructure destroyed by flooding. We have already finalised our rehabilitation plan for each province and are in consultation with National Treasury to secure any additional resources required.
Allow me now, Honourable Speaker, to deal with each of the three components of my department in turn, beginning with the agricultural sector.
It is true to say that the 20th Century saw substantive shifts in the structure of agriculture and agricultural production in South Africa. The agricultural production environment in our country is dualistic and has the following primary features:
- Commercial agriculture is made up of less than 40 000 farming units. Most (if not all) commercial farms are already farmed to capacity, and these farms generally seek to employ ‘best practices’, including the optimal utilisation of fertilizers, pesticides, crop rotation, grazing rotation and inoculations.
- By contrast, according to the Labour Force Survey, the number of black people practicing agriculture at some scale increased from 3.5 million to 4.5 million, mostly within the former homelands. Most of these are subsistence or small-scale farmers, and farming methods are well below optimal.
The sector however continues to wrestle with entrenched inequalities. We are well aware that our country needs profitable and productive commercial farms, and that more than 50% of commercial farmers are small businesses with an annual turnover of less than R300 000 per annum. However since the concept of traceability of products has become more stringent in many international markets, commercial farmers should be assisted to adhere to strict regulations regarding the breeding and certifying of parentage.
The only way that the production potential on some commercial livestock farms can be improved is to make use of superior genetic material.
Furthermore, our compliance as a country with strict sanitary and phyto- sanitary regulations must be safeguarded, and government policies should seek to enhance the export status of commodities and eventually the export earnings of the country.
Moreover, I am convinced that we need a comprehensive partnership with the commercial agriculture sector to promote and create greater food security, create jobs and contribute positively to the country’s economy. However, if we wish to farm harmoniously with smallholder farmers, the ability of these smallholder farmers to farm commercially must be facilitated by the State.
Honourable Speaker, we have in our midst this morning Mr Pitso Sekhoto, one of our successful black commercial farmers. He does stock, milk, crop and fruit production on his farm in Senekal in the eastern Free State, which we visited in January this year during its harvest. Honourable Speaker, I am proud to say that Mr Sekhoto quit a thriving business enterprise in Pretoria and opted to become a boer. He has given, I repeat, he has given his workers a shareholding of his farm and there’s harmony and peace, and ultimately productivity - on his farm. I am sure we all agree that we need many more commercial black farmers like Ntate Pitso Sekhoto. We must demystify the notion that blacks are not interested in commercial farming. The more black boere we have, the better for the agriculture sector.
Let us be clear on one matter - criminality on farms and in the fishing and forestry industries is a threat to food security, and to long-term economic growth and stability. Illegal evictions, farm murders, attacks and exploitation of vulnerable workers are the ills that require all of us to act in unison and without apology.
We have noted with appreciation the tough stance adopted by the Minister of Police during his recent visit to Vryheid, during which he gave the police a 30-day deadline to deal decisively with outstanding cases of stock theft and farm murders.
We have also noted with delight the deployment of 67 new vehicles for rural police flying squads. We believe that these developments, together with other efforts, will lead to the prevention of some of the worst crimes committed on farms.
But equally important is the conditions of service on the farms. We are convinced that, at the centre of some of the crimes committed on the farms, the trigger was dissatisfaction around conditions of service. We will therefore continue to work with organised agriculture to foster good relations between farm owners and their workers.
In the fishing industry poaching is a major global concern, and the invasion of forest land, and ensuing hostilities coupled with the theft of timber and non-timber forest products, continue to plague the forestry subsector. We are working on a concerted effort that will address and curb these criminal activities in the fisheries and forestry subsectors.
I have informed the public about the occurrence of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) cases in northern KwaZulu-Natal and now recently an outbreak of Avian Influenza (AI), commonly known as Avian Flu, on five farms in the Oudtshoorn area, in the Western Cape The good news is that as a result intensive investigations and surveillance conducted in both areas,. For FMD, to date, over 64 000 cattle have been vaccinated. And for both diseases we are in control of the situation. There is no need for concern.
Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Bill
In order to address these animal sicknesses we require extensive veterinary services, and there is a need for additional professionals. As a result we intend bringing to this house, amendments to the Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Act of 1982, with a view to introducing a period of compulsory community service for veterinarians. Early indications are that the profession will support this, and the legislation will help considerably in offsetting the current shortage of state veterinarians. Community service will provide a minimum of 100 jobs each year.
Honourable Speaker, the Constitution designates Agriculture as a concurrent competency. The department works closely with all provincial agriculture departments, and should indicate that almost one third of the budget for 2011/12 is in fact destined for provincial departments, mainly via conditional grants that help fund our collective interventions to support small-scale farmers and land reform beneficiaries.
In addition, another fifth of the budget goes to support the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), which also support provincial efforts.
Together, then, more than half of the money allocated for 2011/12 will take the form of transfers to provincial government or other entities, or subscription fees to international institutions and subsidies to universities, technikons and not-for-profit institutions.
The remainder will cover the salaries of our 7099 approved posts, and the costs of the goods and services we rely upon to do our work. It will buy-in specialist services or commission research, keep our computers operating, and so forth. A very small sum will go to capital expenditure so as to maintain our buildings and replace obsolete equipment.
We have recently completed the restructuring of our branches and directorates and are now well placed to harness our synergies, achieve efficiency, and yet still accommodate the real-world complexities of our sector.
Extension and advisory support services
Honourable Speaker, in terms of extension and advisory support to our farmers, including the beneficiaries of land and agrarian reform, the Department has over the past three years implemented an extension and advisory service revitalisation programme to the value of 555 million rand.
During this year, the department will also conduct a comprehensive audit of the Extension Recovery Plan to establish the extent to which the targets were met and the outcomes achieved.
Education and training
Honourable members, the department has completed a comprehensive audit of South Africa’s 12 colleges of agriculture, in preparation for transforming them into National Agricultural Training Institutes. In this financial year, we will use some of the budget from the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme in order to improve the infrastructure of these institutions and revitalise their laboratories, and will work towards the promulgation of an Agricultural Training Institute Bill to give effect to the changes. The institutes will further benefit from the generosity of the Royal Government of the Netherlands and the Federal Republic of Germany.
Transformation of the sector
Honourable members, we are honoured today to have in our midst people who toil through all seasons to ensure there is food security. I therefore welcome the representatives of our three sectors – Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Together with our social partners, we opened a crucial dialogue on workers in the farming, forestry and fisheries sector during the Vulnerable Workers’ Summit held in July 2010.
Through this, the sector got a better understanding of the conditions under which this important segment lives, and agreed on the centrality of these workers in the continued and future growth of these sectors. Ongoing dialogue will continue addressing the living and working conditions of farm, forestry and fishery workers, with specific reference to health and land tenure issues.
The collaboration of Agriculture South Africa (Agri SA), National African Farmers Union (NAFU) and (TAUSA) Transvaal Agricultural Union - the three key agricultural unions - has helped to unlock the potential of the agricultural sector, and provided evidence that working together we can do more!
I am glad to report that the Forestry Charter Council has made progress, and the Forestry Charter has been gazetted as a section 9 code, meaning that it is legally binding to all forestry sector players.
The Fisheries Sector Charter is being developed and will be implemented in the medium term to ensure the achievement of transformation imperatives within the fishing sector. I trust that the Agriculture Charter will be gazetted shortly.
The forestry sector
Honourable members, South Africa is a signatory to the international protocols and agreements on global climate change and natural resource protection such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Convention on Biological Diversity.
We are therefore privileged to be the host country for the Conference of Parties 17 (COP 17) of the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change later this year, although this compels us to invest more resources and efforts towards the effective and sustainable management of our natural resources.
Forestry’s goal is to ensure that forestry and associated industries growth, improvement and capitalisation of new opportunities, whilst contributing to prosperity and the quality of life in rural South Africa.
I can record that small growers are expanding as an alternative source of secured fibre for the forestry industry, and today there are 37 independent small growers and 47 community woodlots, covering a total area of just under 1 000 hectares. However ownership in the forestry industry remains highly skewed, with the majority of forestry plantations owned by a handful of grower-processor multinational corporations. There is a rapid development of black ownership and management in the form of out-grower timber schemes, but the percentage of plantation land owned by independent small and medium growers is one of the lowest in the world. I am however pleased to note that some large companies have established projects to support small growers, such as SAPPIs Project Grow and MONDIs Khulanathi.
In the next financial year, there is an allocation of some 300 million rand to support sustainability measures, and a budget of 550 million rand has been allocated for sustainable management of the country’s forestry resources.
The department will also enhance job creation efforts by pursuing re-afforestation, confirming small-scale forestry grants, and conducting resource assessments, all within a value-chain approach. The current use of 10 percent of land by commercial forestry should be maintained and production enhanced by research and technological advancements.
Honourable members, we have the honour of hosting the International Wildfire Conference in May this year, and in addition we will host the World Forestry Congress in 2012. Hosting these events enhances South Africa’s position in Africa and the world.
The main challenge in fisheries is to create a balance between maximising the social and economic potential of the fisheries sector while protecting the integrity of the country’s marine and coastal ecosystem.
South Africa has a well established fishery sector, comprising two components: wild capture fisheries and an aquaculture component, which is under development. Each of these requires specific research and management interventions.
I am pleased to announce that our increasingly scarce sea resources, under huge international threat, will be better protected by having declared 9% of our coastline as prohibited zones, and up to 3% of our offshore zone as no-fishing areas. The department will soon finalise and implement the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy, which will include extension services being implemented in the small-scale fisheries sector.
We will also support investment in community entities to jointly take responsibility for sustainably managing the fisheries resources and to address the depletion of critical fisheries stocks.
For example, to improve income and sustainable livelihoods, particularly of small-scale fishers, the department re-opened the abalone fishery during July 2010 on a trial basis. We have created a platform to advance a multi-agency approach towards curbing the scourge of poaching by deploying adequate resources at identified hot-spot areas.
With the support of communities and all law enforcement agencies, I am pleased to report that since the re-opening of the abalone fishery we have seized 25 boats and 20 vehicles used in the crime of abalone poaching, while over 240 arrests were made. In one operation with South African Revenue Service (SARS) and South African Police Service (SAPS) an abalone syndicate was infiltrated, resulting in seven arrests, the closure of three illegal abalone drying facilities, and the confiscation of motor vehicles! Other major cases include the successful return of two 12-metre containers from Hong Kong with a total of 55 640 units of dried abalone worth 38 million rand.
The department has launched an anti-poaching project in the Western Cape, funded through the working for fisheries programme. This has enabled us to deploy 60 military veterans in the Overberg region to assist in curbing illegal activities.
South Africa needs to look to alternatives such as aquaculture, to relieve the pressure on wild fish stocks while taking advantage of the growing domestic and foreign demand for fish. Obviously, promoting aquaculture means also that we can spread the economic opportunities related to meeting this demand to areas not traditionally associated with the fishing industry. The department has finalised the National Aquaculture Strategy and will soon be sending it to Cabinet for approval.
Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICS)
South Africa is privileged and excited to be associating with Brazil, Russia, India and China. From a South African agriculture, forestry and fisheries perspective, the significance of joining the BRICS is the improved access for our exports that it potentially represents to the massive and growing domestic markets of our BRICS partners.
Moreover, South Africa shares a common aggravation with the unbalanced trade environment created by the enormous farmer subsidy systems that remain in place in Europe and North America, thus joining BRICS helps us add our voice to this urgent call for an international trade system that is fairer to all of our farmers.
Expanding trade and development cooperation with Africa
Together with the Trade and Industry, the department is in the process of introducing an Export Expansion Programme whose purpose will be to boost South African exports to regional and international markets. The programme will pay particular attention to boosting export markets for beneficiated agro-based products.
At the same time, South Africa renews its commitment to playing its part in development co-operation activities with our African brothers and sisters, not least through active participation in promoting trade and investment processes led by the African Union and New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
Honourable Members, in this budget vote, I reiterate the need to strengthen collaboration among stakeholders, cooperation with all spheres of government and other relevant social partners in our quest to offer a better life for all. I also emphasise our expressed excitement about the new opportunities presented through our participation in the various global economic blocs, which will invigorate our production capacity, while stimulating job creation and alleviating poverty.
We undertake all this in the firm belief that working together we can do more.
Honourable Members, I wish to thank the Director-General, Mr Langa Zita, his senior management and the entire staff of the department for their support, particularly in reshaping the new structure and repositioning it for effective and improved service delivery.
I extend my gratitude to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, the Honourable Mlungisi Johnson, and other members of the committee. I wish to also thank the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Land and Environment, the Honourable Daphne Qikani, and the members of the Select Committee.
My appreciation is extended to the many industries related to agriculture, forestry and fisheries for their readiness to engage and to contribute positively to the government’s call for food security and job creation, particularly in the face of the global recession and other adverse socio-economic influences affecting our country.
I would also like to thank the Deputy Minister; Dr Pieter Mulder, for his interventions to ensure the integration of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries subsectors, particularly in support of the African development agenda.
Lastly, but by no means least, a special word of thanks goes the family and caregivers of my children whose support allows me the opportunity to serve my country.
Honourable Speaker and honourable members, I have pleasure in presenting to you the budget of R4, 719 billion for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for the financial year 2011/12, for your consideration and approval.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
19 Apr 2011
National Council of Provinces budget vote speech (Vote 25) delivered by Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson MP Minister: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
15 Jun 2011
The honourable Chairperson of the NCOP
Chairperson of the Select Committee: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Members of the National Council of Provinces, and of the Executive Councils in the provinces
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
Greetings to you all and thanks for your interest and attendance.
I stand here before you as a servant of the South African citizenry just after our very successful local government elections. This is another step towards the strengthening our democracy, as President Jacob Zuma indicated at the official declaration of the election results at the Independent Electoral Commission’s election centre in Tshwane. In another step on that same road, we have today assembled in this house to give an account to the citizenry of what we have done, and to ask their approval, through you their elected representatives, for what we intend doing in this financial year.
Before I outline these plans let me recognise and salute the youth of this country – the youth that fought for our freedom from apartheid, the youth that continues that struggle under the changed terrain of democracy. It has been said that we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. As the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, I say to the youth of today: we will endeavour to protect the environment in every way we can, so that you will have fertile ground to till and to plant.
We will continue to run programmes which will benefit the youth as they take their rightful place on the land, and at sea. And in return, we ask only that you use it wisely, that you reap its benefits, and that you leave it in even better shape for future generations.
Honourable chairperson, this department has been allocated 4.719 billion rand to address the many challenges which this sector faces – challenges which this ANC government inherited from the apartheid government in1994, and which it has been endeavouring to overcome for over a decade and a half. Major allocations within this budget include 890 million rand for agricultural production, 1.2 billion for food security and agricultural reform, 190 million to trade promotion and market access, R770 million for forestry and natural resource management and R324 million for fisheries management.
The introduction of Presidential Outcomes and the signing of Performance Agreements by Ministers and Premiers have highlighted the need to align our efforts in order to ensure that the agenda of a better life for all is fulfilled.
In line with this new approach, I have signed a Performance Agreement with the President, focused on Outcome 7 (vibrant equitable and sustainable rural communities and food security for all) and Outcome 10 (protect and enhance our environmental assets and natural resources). Each of these Outcomes has a set of related outputs, for which the department has determined annual targets.
At the end of the year we will be able to measure the impact that these outcomes have had on the lives of our people, especially the rural poor.
New Growth Path
Honourable members, as guided by the broader government policy on the New Growth Path (NGP) the agricultural sector has been identified as one of the sectors that has a significant potential to create jobs. The NGP targets job opportunities for 300 000 households in agriculture smallholder schemes, plus a further 145 000 jobs in agro-processing, which will in turn have the potential to upgrade conditions for 660 000 farm workers by 2020. The department has committed to creating 130 000 jobs in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors by 2014.
In addition, the department aims to establish 50 000 commercially-orientated smallholder farmers focusing on homelands, where there is a large concentration of subsistence producers including supporting smallholders on land acquired through land reform in partnership with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
In committing to these targets, I trust that all provinces appreciate their obligations towards achieving them, using the funds made available to them.
Honourable members, I am pleased to record that only 16.5% of our budget goes towards administration – the rest is for delivery. We have a number of major programmes which are contained in our strategic plan, but I would like to highlight a few of these.
Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP)
One of these is the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme - known as CASP – which seeks to support smallholder farmers - both subsistence and commercial - as well as the beneficiaries of land reform programmes. I can report that over 5 000 jobs were created in the 2010/11 financial year as a result of the support interventions of CASP, including programmes on state land managed by the department.
In pursuit of Outcome 7, we will increase our support to new and existing smallholder farmers, working in close collaboration with the provinces to achieve our targets.
Fifteen thousand smallholder farmers have been targeted for the 2011/12 financial year, and it must be noted honourable members that this is inclusive of support that will be provided to small-scale foresters and fishers.
For this CASP programme a grant of over 1 billion rand has been allocated to the nine provinces, which will be paid out in tranches, depending on progress. By now the provinces will have received the initial 10% of their allocation, which will be followed by a further 20% next month, and the remaining allocations in October and January next year.
In addition, as part of our support to smallholder farmers, a Smallholder Development Plan will be developed this year to strengthen coordination with provinces in regard to the support of 15 000 smallholder farmers. Collaboration with our sister Department of Rural Development and Land Reform in regard to land ownership and land use remains critical in elevating farmers from subsistence to smallholder level and from smallholder to commercial level.
A second major initiative is that of Illima/Letsema, which is aimed at encouraging self-sufficiency and the eradication of hunger. The President has set an example for all of us by assisting rural women to plant and weed their crops, and I trust that all of us will follow his example.
A budget of R400 million has been earmarked for this and each province will receive a share, as follows: KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape 60 million rand each; Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo 40 million rand each, Free State 52 million rand, Gauteng 20 million, and the Western Cape 48 million rand.
Subsistence farmers’ support
Food security at household level has been negatively affected by the general economic meltdown that we have experienced over the past years.
We are pleased to note that according to StatsSA food prices have decreased marginally, with red meat down by 0.3%, fish by 0.9% and fruit at 1.5%. But we also know that these shifts are small and probably not sustainable, and continued support to subsistence farmers is essential.
In order to increase our capacity to assess vulnerability and to target our interventions, our department has initiated a partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and together with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), it has set up a National Vulnerability Assessment Committee for
The implementation of the Zero Hunger Campaign is gaining momentum.
This campaign will focus primarily on increasing production, and it will be underpinned by the implementation of the Food Purchase Programme and the facilitation of contract production. The Zero Hunger Campaign is geared towards assisting smallholder farmers to produce more as well as increase access to markets in order to generate income. At the centre of this hunger eradication strategy will be the creation of self-employment opportunities.
We will also ensure that sustainable production technologies are introduced, and that we strengthen the integration of activities at both household and community levels.
We will continue to distribute seeds and seedlings to more households, but we have realised that distribution alone will not assist in terms of increasing the household income or sustainably impacting on other livelihood factors. In pursuance of attaining these goals, the Livelihood Zoning process which seeks to understand coping systems in our communities, has been initiated in the
Honourable members, the LandCare Programme continues to perform a significant role in reversing soil and land degradation through support provided to community initiatives. This programme contributes significantly to green job creation, poverty eradication, food security and a better life for all.
In the last financial year, projects related to the use of water by the farming sector were funded. This was an intervention to install sub-surface drainage and irrigation systems through the building of dams, drilling of boreholes and the refurbishment of irrigation systems. Some initiatives also involved the installation of irrigation systems for household food security and small-scale farmers on land ranging from 2 to 5 hectares.
During the 2010/11 financial year the programme directly and indirectly benefited 28 161 land users. A total of 66 272 hectares were rehabilitated in all provinces through the construction of soil conservation works, rangeland utilisation and protection works and the eradication of declared weeds and invasive plants. The Junior LandCare Initiative, focusing on enhancing an ethic of natural resources stewardship, reached 22 166 young people, and in total 14 815 green jobs were created through rehabilitation works related to soil, water and veld management.
As part of the LandCare programme for 2011/12, an estimated 15 000 job opportunities will be created through the rehabilitation and land utilisation activities under the LandCare programme.
An amount of 57.7 million rand has been earmarked for the LandCare programme in this financial year, and all provinces will receive a share of this.
Colleges of Agriculture
The department is in the process of transforming the Colleges of Agriculture into national Agricultural Training Institutes (ATIs) and has completed a comprehensive audit of these institutions. The audit conducted looked comprehensively at the state of infrastructure at these institutions, the academic and skills training programmes offered, their accreditation status, the governance structures in place and the financial and logistical systems in place. The criteria used in the audit to assess these areas were informed by the approved norms and standards for ATIs.
For the 2011/12 financial year, R50 million has been made available to the 12 Colleges of Agriculture, which will be utilised to address the gaps identified through the audit. This financial year more focus will be on infrastructure improvement including revitalisation of computer laboratories at these institutions.
The department has received R20 million funding through a partnership with the Netherlands Institute for
This project will strengthen the capacity of these colleges as centres of excellence, especially in the provision of training for smallholder producers in the country. We have also enlisted the technical assistance of the Federal Republic of Germany in the development of a national strategy on relevant vocational training to be incorporated as part of the curricula of these colleges.
In this financial year we will accelerate work towards the promulgation of the Agricultural Training Institute Bill, which will prescribe a national model of governance for these colleges.
Extension and advisory services
Honourable members we have, over the past three years, implemented an extension and advisory service revitalisation programme to the value of 555,5 million rand. In order to improve the ratio of extension officers-to-farmers, 691 new extension and advisory officers were recruited. By the end of this financial year, more than 1000 extension and advisory officers shall have been recruited.
To ensure that these officers are visible on the ground and are accountable, a farmer’s Green Book has been instituted as a tool to be used by the farmer to record the visits by an extension officer. To date the
Over the past three years, extension officers have been provided with information and communication technology equipment including cellular telephones, 3G cards, laptops, cameras and a GPS. This is in recognition of the fact that extension officers are supposed to be reservoirs of appropriate information needed by the farmer.
Furthermore, in order to ensure access to appropriate information the department has facilitated the adoption of the powerful state of the art “Extension suite on-line” in all nine provinces. This computerised system enables an extension officer a link to access relevant information on the spot as and when it is needed by the farmer.
In terms of training, a total of 1 149 extension officers are registered for qualifications upgrade in line with the approved norms and standards, and a total of 5 110 extension officers were trained in technical, generic and ICT short skills training programmes.
As we step into the 2011/12 financial year, focus will be on the further development of appropriate policies for extension and advisory services. These include a national policy on extension and advisory services, a Performance Monitoring Framework, and the establishment of a Professional Body.
Climate change and disaster management
Honourable chairperson, we know that this country will host COP17 later this year in
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are central to this agenda, since these sectors are simultaneously a major producer of greenhouse gases, as well as being seriously impacted upon by climate change. We are therefore focusing on bringing to the table of COP 17 proposals for adaptation strategies, to reduce the carbon footprint of these industries, as well as mitigation strategies to protect our food producers from the worst effects of climate change.
While food security and food availability is not yet a problem in
To this end, we have embarked on a mechanisation strategy. The programme aims at stimulating production by smallholders, with a special focus on rural areas and the former homelands. To date, 170 tractors with implements were transferred to
Over 500 permanent jobs have been created through this initiative, together with several indirect jobs along the value chain. In this financial year we will roll out the project to the remaining seven provinces and in doing so we will be building on the lessons learned from
Commercial farming sector
Honourable chair, in relation to agriculture, let me address the commercial farmers of this country. We have attempted to create a climate in which commercial farming enterprises continue to thrive. We need this sector to make their contribution to the economy, and to play their part in job creation and labour absorption. Some farmers have been quite outspoken about the situation, but I am pleased to note that the Agriculture Business Chamber, an independent body, reported last week that its agri-business confidence index has reached its highest level in three years.
It is currently 13% up from the previous quarter, and 43% higher than the same quarter last year, so we must be getting something right in the eyes of most commercial producers. I will continue to engage all legitimate farmers organisations to ensure that we work together in confronting the remaining challenges for the sector, and give notice that I intend setting up a permanent Consultative Forum in order to facilitate this partnership.
Honourable chairperson, my portfolio is not just about farmers and farming. We also have responsibility for two other crucial sectors of the economy – forestry and fisheries.
May I remind you that the United Nations General Assembly has declared the year 2011 to be the international year of forests. The multiple benefits of trees are experienced by all of daily.
Forestry currently creates thousands of jobs in rural areas, including the contribution of the private sector. I am confident that many more jobs can be created in re-afforestation, saw-milling, charcoal production, timber, coppicing, working on fire and the working for forestry programmes.
In this financial year we have allocated 451.6 million rand to the Forestry Branch, which will be used to pursue the desired outcomes. I am also proud to announce that the United Nations has afforded
This sector has been a challenging and complex one, with huge financial interests involved, and the inevitable crime and corruption which accompanies these interests. We have dramatically increased our capacity to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and the department has launched an anti-poaching project in this province (Western Cape), funded through the Working for Fisheries Programme.
This has enabled us to deploy 60 military veterans in the Overberg region to serve as the “eyes and ears” of the government.
Since re-opening the abalone fishery in July 2010, I am pleased to report that with the support of communities and law enforcement agencies 25 boats and 20 vehicles used in abalone poaching were seized and 240 arrests were made. I have also been advised that after many years of decline through poaching, our West Coast Rock Lobster stocks are showing signs of recovery.
With the help of the security cluster of departments, we are indeed making inroads against the international syndicates who seek to plunder our precious marine resources.
The fishing sector is made up of large-scale operators as well as small-scale, artisanal or even recreational fishermen and women.
In our efforts to both regulate and support the latter, the department has finalised the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy.
Through this we will support investment in community entities to take joint responsibility for sustainably managing the fisheries resources and to address the depletion of critical fisheries stocks.
Honourable chairperson, fish farming (properly called aquaculture) is a growing source of food in many countries, and we must be a part of this global trend. We have therefore developed the national Aquaculture Development Programme and Strategic Framework which is aimed at creating jobs and wealth, as well as increasing productivity and sustainability in the Fisheries and Aquaculture sectors.
The department has initiated an Aquaculture and Rural Livelihoods (ARL) programme which is formulated to assist in developing provincial aquaculture strategic plans, revitalising state hatcheries, and the training of aquaculture extension officers. We have initiated a regional capacity building programme for state veterinarians at Rhodes University on Aquatic Animal Diseases Diagnostics and Management, with the help of the International Animal Health Organisation.
But we have not stopped at the level of policy. We are an action- oriented department! We recently launched a state- owned abalone hatchery costing R15 million, through which 200 jobs will be created. In collaboration with the Chinese government we are finalising the Gariep Dam Aquaculture Demonstration Centre (ADC) in the Free State.
A financial commitment of R6 million has been made for the construction phase of the project, and another R40 million has been committed by the Chinese government.
The development of the Qolora Aquaculture Development Zone (ADZ) in the Eastern Cape has been proposed to facilitate growth of the sub-sector. This area is situated approximately 60km from East London, and the department has this year committed R20 million for this project.
Also in the Eastern Cape, the area of Hamburg has been identified as a specific location where intervention is required. The department has invested R10 million towards the revitalisation of an oyster farm in the area and the establishment of a Kob fish-farming project, which is expected to produce up to ten tons of fish a year.
The local community will benefit through transfer of technology, skills development and the creation of approximately 60 direct jobs.
The department has submitted a proposal to the Western Cape Provincial Department of Human Settlements to facilitate the development of the Silwerstroom Strand Aquaculture Development Zone. Consultation with the custodian of the land has taken place and a Letter of Consent has been obtained. The department is now commissioning an Environmental Impact Assessment as a final stage before implementation.
I hope that in the brief time available I have given honourable members a sense of what has been done, and what is to be done.
Our intentions are elaborated in the Operational Plan of the department, and I invite anyone with an interest in the agriculture, forestry or fisheries sectors to consider this. Our department does not farm, fish or grow trees; our task is to assist those who do so, to ensure they do so in a supportive environment, and to use these sectors to pursue the overall priorities of government, especially poverty alleviation and job creation. I therefore invite the honourable members to approve the policy and budget for the coming year.
Honourable chairperson, in conclusion, let me indicate that I have asked my Deputy, the Honourable Pieter Mulder, to take responsibility for overseeing the work of our many statutory bodies and agencies in the sector, and I thank him for his support in this regard.
I would also like to thank the members of the Select Committee, other Members of Parliament, MECs of Agriculture, my DG Langa Zita, my staff in the department and the ministry as well as the provincial heads of department, for their ongoing advice and support.
Ke a leboga, baie dankie, enkosi kakhulu, thank you.
Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
15 Jun 2011
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