South African Stud Book on animal recording and identification system: briefing; minutes and reports: consideration and adoption

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

23 November 2010
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

South African Stud Book assured Members that it had no hidden agenda and presented a plan to improve animal recording and genetic evaluation in South Africa. South African Stud Book explained the current state of animal recording. It was proposed that the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System should be “relocated” to the Agricultural Research Council while being “housed” at South African Studbook to reduce operating costs. There would be consolidation of registration, a South African Stud Book activity, with registration and recording at the Agricultural Research Council to establish a One Stop Shop. The South African Studbook plan would entail net funding by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of R15.6 million for 2009/10. The plan would entail four schemes. There would be a separate contract for the Kaonaftso ya Dikgomo scheme. There would also be a separate contract for the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System. The advantages would be more effectiveness, elimination of duplication, the assurance of data integrity, the reliability of the animal recording system, and the increased accessibility of the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System. The establishment of an advisory board would provide all stakeholders with a voice. There would be greater accountability to all stakeholders. All South African data would be captured on the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System. Schemes would be expanded to include more farmers who were poor in resources and also include commercial farmers. There would be a greater role for provincial departments of agriculture, and an improvement in the generation of wealth and alleviation of poverty.  

Members applauded the South African Stud Book delegation for a well-prepared presentation, and asked for clarity on livestock registration and the performance registration system, whether all breeders needed Government support, why some breeders had left South African Stud Book, if South African Stud Book had been involved in helping emerging framers, and if rural wool farmers received any help from South African Stud Book. Members also asked if there was a contract for the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System, how the horse race industry was organised, if rural wool growers and poultry farmers received any aid from South African Stud Book, and asked for a strategy, in writing, of how the breeding societies planned to form partnerships in order to build bridges between the different stakeholders. The Chairperson observed that the model was proposed was a public-private partnership but there were other models that could be used - record keeping was an important issue in South Africa. He asked why South African Stud Book’s report was marked confidential, and said that the allegations of the Agricultural Research Council were serious. He requested that South African Stud Book submit a written submission “because words alone would not suffice”. The South African Stud Book had already worked with the Agricultural Research Council. All that was needed was to establish what the glitches were, fix them and make the relationship official.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries interacted with Members on the Department’s written responses on progress on retaining of extension officers, on the development of fire management plans, and the progress on a forensic audit on the effective use of regular television programming on AgriTV.

The Chairperson stressed the need for Members to sit together and get a sense of direction for the following year. The responses from the Department had been too short and summarised. Members said that communal land needed to be developed and transformed into productive land, outputs must be measurable, and that the Committee must look at work done - not plans and ambitions. Members emphasised the need to know the locations where progress was made, observed that extension officers were pillars in the sector and that there should be more support for emerging farmers, and noted that there were no national insurance schemes against disasters: a national insurance system would be a solution - it had worked in other countries. There must be a system of reporting back on implementation. The Department must be firm on monitoring provinces.

Shortage of time prevented consideration and adoption of all outstanding minutes. Members were asked to send corrections by email.


Meeting report

South African Stud Book. Presentation
Mr Carel Nel, President, South African Stud Book (SA Stud Book), introduced Dr Pierre van Rooyen, General Manager, SA Stud Book, who assured Members that SA Stud Book had no hidden agenda.

Dr Van Rooyen explained the current state of animal recording. Livestock contributed 53% to the gross domestic product (GDP) from agriculture in South Africa. Seven million head of cattle were in the hands of black farmers. However, most livestock was produced in semi-arid areas, which required continued investment in innovation and strategies for improving adaptability and thus productivity. Recording and genetic evaluation facilitated the identification of more productive animals, which could enhance the national animal improvement programme. 

Dr Van Rooyen presented SA Stud Book’s plan to improve animal recording and genetic evaluation in South Africa. It was proposed that the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System (INTERGIS) should be “relocated” to the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) (slide [11]) while being “housed” at SA Studbook  (slide [12]) to reduce operating costs. There would be consolidation of registration, a South African Stud Book activity, with registration and recording at the Agricultural Research Council to establish a One Stop Shop. The South African Studbook plan would entail net funding by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of R15.6 million for 2009/10. The plan would entail four schemes. There would be a separate contract for the Kaonaftso ya Dikgomo scheme. There would also be a separate contract for the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System. The advantages would be more effectiveness, elimination of duplication, the assurance of data integrity, the reliability of the animal recording system, and the increased accessibility of the INTERGIS. The establishment of an advisory board would provide all stakeholders with a voice. There would be greater accountability to all stakeholders. All South African data would be captured on the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System. Schemes would be expanded to include more farmers who were poor in resources and also include commercial farmers. There would be a greater role for provincial departments of agriculture, and an improvement in the generation of wealth and alleviation of poverty. 

Dr Van Rooyen explained that a new entity, Newco, would be separate from SA Stud Book, but SA Stud Book would manage the finances and the administration of Newco.

Discussion
The Chairperson said the model that was proposed was a public-private partnership (PPP); there were other models that could be used - record keeping was an important issue in South Africa (SA).

Mr L Bosman (DA) applauded the SA Stud Book delegation for a well-prepared presentation. He asked for clarity on livestock registration and the performance registration system; and whether all the breeders in SA needed support from Government. He also asked for more information regarding inclusiveness on Newco.

Mr S Abram (ANC) asked what the root causes were when some breeders left SA Stud Book. He also asked what SA Stud Book’s response was if the ARC had capacity problems; having been involved in the seed/animal industry for long he asked if SA Stud Book had been involved in helping emerging framers.

Ms N Twala (ANC) asked if SA Stud Book helped emerging farmers, especially from the previously disadvantaged regions. She also asked for an explanation of what “Intergis” and “blup” were.

Ms R Nyalungu (ANC) asked if rural wool farmers received any help from SA Stud Book.

The Chairperson asked why SA Studbook’s report was marked private and confidential.

Dr Van Rooyen replied that the document was no longer private and confidential. He said livestock registration was done by registered registration societies. INTERGIS was a national database that was used in measuring performance. He did not want to speculate on why other breeders had left SA Stud Book. He said that the system used at that stage was outdated and breeding societies got frustrated because they wanted new technology. He mentioned that of the eight who had left, two had rejoined SA Stud Book. Regarding the allegations made by the ARC, he said that they were not true and there was an investigation conducted to prove that.

The Chairperson intervened and said that this issue of allegations made by the ARC was serious. He asked Dr Van Rooyen not to dwell much on it and try to give justifications. The Chairperson requested that SA Stud Book submit a written submission about the matter because words alone would not suffice.

Dr Van Rooyen continued and said that Stud Book SA is involved with government to help emerging farmers.

Mr J Stretton, Chairperson, National Small Stock Improvement Scheme, said that the National Wool Growers Association had launched a scheme to improve farming in previously disadvantaged areas. He said that performance tested rams were introduced and as a result wool production and profitability had improved dramatically.

Mr H Cronje, Chairperson, ARC Advisory Committee, replied that INTERGIS was an integrated genetic system, a computerised programme that included best linear unbiased performance programme (blup) figures. A blup was a best linear unbiased performance programme that predicted what an animal would breed for you.

Mr D Serapelwane, member of SA Stud Book said that he was an example of how Stud Book SA helped emerging farmers. He started out as a satellite breed but he was now a breeder on his own.

Mr Bosman asked whether there was a contract for INTERGIS.

Ms Nyalungu asked how the horse race industry was organised.

Mr Abram said there was a need for partnerships in order to build bridges between the different stakeholders. He asked for a strategy, in writing, of how the breeding societies plan to do it.

Mr L Gaehler (UDM) asked if rural wool growers and poultry farmers received any aid from SA Stud Book.

Dr Van Rooyen said that there were other breeding societies who used INTERGIS as a performance measure; there was a contract with INTERGIS which was renewed annually although the ARC was behind in payments. He said he did not know that the system used by breeders involved in horseracing and SA Stud Book was not involved. He said that there was a pig and poultry scheme for assisting farmers; SA Stud Book was involved in helping cattle farmers in remote areas.

The Chairperson asked Stud Book SA to assist Members in their constituencies; there would be further engagements with the ARC. The Committee expressed appreciation of the work done by the ARC.

Mr Nel said that there was a lot of goodwill and ability; the plan that SA Stud Book proposed was completely inclusive. He asked the Committee to convince the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to accept the plan. He said the next plan would be complete privatisation if this plan was not approved.

The Chairperson intervened and asked Mr Nel to give his concluding remarks.

Mr Nel said that SA Studbook did not want to privatise and was seeking Government support.

The Chairperson said that SA Stud Book had already worked with the ARC. All that was needed was to establish what the glitches were, fix them and make the relationship official.

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Outstanding matters from Committee interaction the Department in 2010
The Chairperson stressed the need for Members to sit together and get a sense of direction for the following year. The responses from the Department had been too short and summarised.

Mr Peter Thabethe, Acting Deputy Director-General, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said that more detailed documents were available dealing with the status of the fresh fruit, the development of sustainable wildlife and Tariff Policy.

Progress on retaining of extension officers and expanding the concept to the forestry and fishery sectors, 15 Feb 2010
The Chairperson emphasised the importance of the effectiveness of extension officers and asked for feedback about their training.

Mr Bosman said that extension officers were the only means of communications between the farmers and the Department and there must be clear lines of communications for reporting back and forth. There were no reporting systems and there must be improvement. He asked if there is any delivery of the computers that were promised. He emphasised that extension officers needed training because it would not help to just have unused resources.  He suggested that, after receiving training, extension officers must enter into learnerships in order to get hands-on experience.

Mr N du Toit (DA) added that extension officers must be connected to the farmers. He said that there was a need for transformation which was hand-in-hand with production and that the long term food security problem needed a solution. He said communal land needed to be developed and transformed into productive land.

Ms Twala said that the report did not specify the number of increasing extension officers.

The Chairperson said that outputs must be measurable.

Mr Thabethe admitted that there had been countless complaints about extension officers and the Department had not responded fully. It was only in the last two years that something was done about extension officers; he admitted that there was a challenge of capacity at the level of extension. He said that problems persisted in the previously disadvantaged areas whereby extension officers had insufficient qualifications. The Department considered different kinds of extensions, namely reorganising, privatisation and nationalisation. The Department was reorganising by equipping extension officers with skills and resources. The Department had a target of having fully completed the re-organisation by 2012. Extension officers had to improve their studies, soft skills, project management and experience. If this programme failed then the next step would be privatisation.

Dr Kgabi Mogajane, Deputy Director General: Production and Resource Management, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, added that a review of the colleges and curriculum was planned. The current two-year training provided inadequate skills and needed to be complemented with technical skills.

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee look at work done, not plans and ambitions.

Mr Du Toit asked if the statistics provided in the report were divided into provinces/regions. He emphasised the need to know the locations where progress was made.

Mr Thabethe replied that perhaps the report needed to be rephrased and also there was a need to check whether the skills acquired were used.

Mr Bosman said that the Agricultural Development Corporation worked well as extension. He said there was no progress on the ground.

The Chairperson said it was clear that extension officers were pillars in the sector and a serious call needed to be made to support emerging farmers.

Progress on development of fire management plan, 23 February 2010
The Chairperson gave the analogy of a small farmer whose farm burned and thus he could not afford to repay the Land Bank.

Mr Bosman said that there were no national insurance schemes for such incidents; small farmers became vulnerable after a disaster and at times did not recover if there was no insurance.

Mr Thabethe replied that disaster management units were established at municipal but nothing was done at provincial and national levels to date.

Ms Nyalungu asked if the Department funded the municipal disaster units. If not, from where did they receive money?

Mr Thabethe replied that the Department received reports from the units, then asked the National Treasury for funds, and then dispersed the funds. The reason why reimbursement was slow was that in essence the units did not have a budget and the Department knew that provinces took long to disperse funds to the municipal level.

Mr Bosman said that Bills and Acts were of no use if they were not implemented fully. He said that a national insurance system would be a solution; it had worked in other countries

The Chairperson asked about food security in the event of a disaster.

Mr Thabethe said that the challenge was the long compensation procedures that need to be followed.

Mr Bosman said that the provinces were not well capacitated.

Mr Du Toit said that if the Department gave out money to a province there must be a task team formed in order to follow through.

The Chairperson asked if there were any plans for an insurance scheme.

Dr Mogajane admitted that the Department had failed to follow through and stressed that some provinces did better than others.

Ms Nyalungu said that there appeared to be no monitoring.

The Chairperson asked what the experiences were with non-performing provinces.

Mr Thabethe replied that it was only recently that the Department had a monitoring programme. He made an example of a province, North West, which had received funds three years previously but had not dispersed them to date, up to a point whereby the Department had to recall the funds.

The Chairperson asked what the role of the Committee was, and who was going to be deployed to join the Department and go to North West and reimburse the deserving farmers. 

Mr Bosman suggested that the Committee oversee the Department, which was its mandate.

Mr Thabethe said that the Department would appreciate support from the Committee.

The Chairperson asked the Committee to raise its views on whether a follow up was needed.

Mr Du Toit stressed the need for following through after funds had been given to provinces.

The Chairperson said that the issue was one of oversight; North West was just one example of a province that needed aid from the Committee.

Mr Thabethe would give a summary to the Committee on performance of each province. The problems were mostly administrative and not political, and resulted from the lengthy procedures that had to be followed.

The Chairperson said he was not interested in bureaucratic red tape; the deserving farmers needed assistance.

Progress on forensic audit on effective use of regular television programming with sufficient viewer numbers
The Chairperson said that the programmes broadcast on AgriTV should be useful and attract interest; the Department should try to get them shown during peak times.

Mr Thabethe said that an investigation was conducted and submitted to the Minister.

Ms Twala asked if the Department had any deadlines.

Mr Thabethe replied that there was no commitment yet.

The Chairperson asked Mr Thabethe to contact the Committee the following day, giving them a definite deadline.

Mr Bosman said that there must be a system of reporting back on issues of implementation.

Mr Thabethe said that the Department was already in communication with the National Treasury on the problem of under-spending by provinces and there was a proposal that money must be injected straight into the Land Bank, which should then disperse the funds.

The Chairperson observed that the Department must be firm on monitoring provinces.

Consideration of minutes
Because of a shortage of time, the Chairperson asked Members to send their concerns about outstanding minutes by email.

The meeting was adjourned.
 



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