The Committee discussed its draft report on the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Budget Vote no.25. It was noted that the provinces were warned about Rift Valley Fever; however some provinces did not react timeously. It was agreed that the report should reflect this reality. The report was adopted with amendments. Members also deliberated on nominations to the Agricultural Research Council. They wondered what their role would be since they were not permitted, by law, to shortlist the nominated candidates. The Committee decided it would try to make its recommendations through the selected panel that would report to the Minister. It was suggested that since the Committee did not play any part in the recommendations, they did not have to meet to discuss the nominees. This would be discussed at the following meeting.
Adoption of Committee Report on the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Budget Vote
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had already looked at the report in a previous meeting and had agreed to fine tune some of the issues contained in it. As there were sufficient Members present, the Committee would discuss the report page by page and proceed to either adopt or reject the report.
Mr N Du Toit (DA) referred to the Recommendations in the report and asked what the comment “to promote commercial production by graduating subsistence farmers” meant. A subsistence farmer by definition used a very small area of land. In order to promote them to commercial production, there had to be a minimum area in order to make the farm viable. The Committee did not have to change the statement. However, he did not know how he would be able to explain the statement to people. He also thought that the Committee should elaborate on the recommendation to follow up on land reform. There was also a recommendation to assist households in improving food production and resource management. Did this mean that households would be producing food in their backyards?
Ms M Mabuza (ANC) explained that the recommendation to assist households meant that every family should have a garden in the front or back of their houses. If each family could have this, then food would not be so expensive as all families would be producing food in their own gardens. The recommendation looking at graduating subsistence farmers meant that all “small” farmers should be assisted to grow food products. Growing meant graduating.
In addition, Ms Mabuza expressed concern that this was the Committee's fifth or sixth meeting to discuss the report. The discussions kept taking the Committee back and forth and it seemed that the report would never be submitted. The Chairperson had said in previous meetings that if anyone had a problem with the report then they should say something during the recess.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee was supposed to adopt the report. The Committee had agreed that they may not be able to deal with the substance of a number of issues contained in the report. Members also agreed that the report had its own limitations. However, the Committee had to clear up a few small errors as well as some issues concerning the substance of some points in the report. The Committee focused on the recommendations contained in the report in its last session. This was why the report now elaborated on the recommendations.
On the recommendation concerning graduating subsistence farmers, he noted that subsistence could refer to hand-to-mouth farmers. The point should actually talk about small scale farmers. He suggested that the recommendation be amended to say “small scale” instead of “subsistence” farmers.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee agreed to the amendment.
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Minor amendments were made.
Mr Du Toit addressed the challenges concerning the Onderstepoort Biological Product (OBP). One of the challenges stated that “the outbreak of the Rift Valley Fever demonstrated that provinces failed to budget for such eventualities that compounded the problem”. However, he argued that it was not a question of budget but a failure by provinces to react and implement certain precautions. Therefore, the word “budget” was used incorrectly and the sentence should be redrafted.
Ms R Nyalungu (ANC) believed that the word “budget” was correctly used as the provinces did not have the funds for a disaster such as Rift Valley Fever.
Mr S Abram (ANC) commented that the provinces were warned about Rift Valley Fever. Some provinces did not react timeously. The sentence should be redrafted to read that “the outbreak of Rift Valley Fever demonstrated that some provinces failed to act timeously and this compounded the problem”. This was more accurate.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee approved the amendment as proposed by Mr Abram.
Ms Mabuza noted that a decision was made in Pretoria to submit this report three days before the budget debate. The debate would be taking place the following day. There was no way the report would be tabled in the ATC by the next day.
The Chairperson stated that there was a procedure where late reports could be fast-tracked. The report would be tabled in the ATC the following day. The Committee was still on course.
Ms N Phaliso (ANC) moved to adopt the report with the amendments made.
The report was adopted with amendments.
Other matters: Discussion on Agricultural Research Council Nominations
The Chairperson asked if all the Members had submitted their nominations for the Agricultural Research Council (ARC).
Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) replied that he had not yet submitted his nominations. He was waiting for the formal notice that asked for the nominations. He also needed to know how and where to submit his nominations to.
Ms Mahdiyah Koff, Committee Secretary, replied that Members had to submit their nominations to her and she would forward them to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The Department would take it from there.
The Chairperson stated that, in this case, the law did not allow the Committee to shortlist the nominations. The nominations would be submitted to a selection panel that would then make its recommendations to the Minister. The Committee could not make its recommendations. However, Members had agreed that they should impress upon the Minister that the Committee be allowed the opportunity to say through the selection panel who they thought should be recommended. The nomination process for the ARC was announced in the ATC a few weeks ago. The Committee Secretary should have circulated the notice.
Mr Abram mentioned that that he had submitted two nominations to the Committee Secretary. He was unsure whether it had been received.
The Chairperson stated that he did not know who the nominees were. Some nominations were sent straight to the Department. The Committee would meet again to hear the nominations.
Ms Mabuza wondered what the Committee's role would be in the selection of the ARC other than making nominations. If the Committee could not recommend or suggest to the Minister who should be nominated then there was no point in the Committee meeting to discuss the nominations.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee did not have to meet. However, he thought it would be good for the Committee to familiarise itself with the nominations.
Ms Mabuza thought that the Committee did not need to meet.
Mr Du Toit added that he could not speak for his colleague, Mr L Bosman (DA) as he was not there at the meeting. Therefore, he could not comment on the suggestion.
The Chairperson told Mr Du Toit that the Committee had to operate as a collective; he could not just say that he could not speak for Mr Bosman.
Mr Du Toit answered that the topic was not on the agenda. If it was, he would have discussed it with Mr Bosman before the meeting.
Ms Mabuza warned that the Committee should not set the precedent that certain topics could not be discussed or decided upon if certain Members were not present at the meeting.
The Chairperson added that the Committee should work in a collective approach, whether certain Members were there or not. Members had to have an understanding on how to conduct themselves in a meeting. He suggested that the Committee discuss the issue the following day.
The meeting was adjourned.
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