Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Third Quarterly Expenditure and Performance

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

24 January 2011
Chairperson: Mr L Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department reported back on the training of extension officers, the consultative meetings aimed at integrating extension service activities in the forestry sector, and the funding by external bursaries to develop extension and advisory skills in the forestry and fisheries sector. It was noted that financial resources to fight veld and forest fires remained a challenge, but the Department was trying to ensure that resources were made available and was training Fire Protection Associations. In regard to tariffs, a policy framework had been submitted to the Minister of Trade and Industry and the Department had arranged that applications for tariff impositions should be shared with it before a final decision was made by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti). The Department had also forged associations with the Department of Higher Education and Training in regard to the National Agricultural Education and Training Strategy, transformation of twelve colleges of agriculture into National Agricultural Training Institutes, drafting of a Bill to deal with this and the programmes to be offered. In regard to fisheries, the Department had identified, was negotiating for release of State land that could be suitable for establishing Aquaculture Development Zones. Issues around failed farms were discussed with Land Bank and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, and curatorship models were proposed, including transfer of non-performing production loans from Land Bank to the Department. The Department was finalising performance review processes for identification and future plans of black economic empowerment in the fisheries sector. An economic study was being done to review the threshold for Exempted Micro Enterprises and Qualifying Small Enterprises. The Department was drafting regulations for, and would give a separate presentation to the Committee on, game farmers, indicating that, contrary to perceptions, they were not always depriving agricultural farmers of land. Finally, the Department was reviewing its funding models and was hoping to set up a one-stop development fund by April 2011.

The Department then briefed the Committee on the key achievements of each of its seven programmes in the third quarter of 2010. Most of the objectives had been achieved, except where the necessary frameworks had not yet been put in place. He reported on the developments in regard to the West Coast Rock Lobster applications and cases. There had been some reporting challenges. The Department was busy with plans for the 2011/12 financial year.

Members asked for a full report on issues not yet covered fully, suggested that distance learning should be introduced and urged that all the legal implications around conversion of fishing rights must be carefully examined.
The sale of rights was questioned, and Members also asked that agricultural sustainability required to be examined holistically, with farmers being encouraged to raise issues. The Chairperson was concerned about the apparently slow progress on the AgriBEE Charter. Members also urged that firm decisions must be made on policing coastlines properly, as the current situation was inadequate, enquired about the job opportunities and the status of the tractor project, felt that cooperatives should be encouraged, enquired about the trade agreements, and what attention was given to eradication of alien plants. They also said that MAFISA was unable to assist blacklisted emerging farmers and other methods must be found, asked about the agricultural colleges, and noted the situation around irrigation schemes.


Meeting report

Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries briefings:
Matters outstanding from 2010
Mr Langa Zita, Director General, Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (the Department or DAFF) addressed the Committee on some outstanding issues questioned in 2010.

In regard to extension officers, he noted that they were trained on different short skills training courses. 1 585 extension officers were trained in technical skills and 1 133 in ICT skills.
748 extension officers were registered in support of the Extension Recovery Plan.

Mr Zita noted that regular consultative meetings were held with Forestry to integrate extension service activities to the forestry sector. In addition, the external bursary scheme of DAFF had increased its scope to fund the production of forestry and fisheries extension and advisory skills.

Financial resources to fight veld and forest fires remained a challenge. DAFF was working in association with the Working for Fire programme to ensure that resources were available to fight both veld and mountain fires when necessary. The Department would focus also on training Fire Protection Associations to ensure that minor veld and forest fires did not run out of control and destroy the ecosystem.

The Tariff Policy Framework that the Department had prepared was formally submitted to the Minister of Trade and Industry in February 2010, and some of the principles contained were incorporated into the National Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP2) of that Department. DAFF and the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) had agreed that any application in respect of tariffs on agricultural products must be shared with DAFF before a final decision was made, to try to ensure that the sector was adequately shielded from subsidised imports.

Mr Zita noted that the business relationship that DAFF has forged with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) regarding the National Agricultural Education and Training Strategy was defined by cooperation in the implementation of the strategy, in order to address acute problems of skills in the agricultural sector. In terms of this, the strategy was being reviewed to incorporate Forestry and Fisheries skills requirements. Secondly, there was also cooperation in the transformation of the twelve Colleges of Agriculture into National Agricultural Training Institutes. A Bill on Agricultural Training Institutes was being developed and would provide the legal backing for transformation of these colleges. The institutes would offer targeted formal training programmes aimed at young people, who would opt for various agricultural enterprises, including farming, as careers of choice. These institutes would offer degree programmes in a franchise relationship with established universities.

Mr Zita then outlined that in its efforts to make the fisheries sector a sustainable option for small-scale fishermen, DAFF had conducted a study to identify State land that might be suitable for the establishment of the Aquaculture Development Zones. Based on the findings of the study, the custodians of the land were identified, and now DAFF was negotiating with them to make the land available in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.

DAFF, in collaboration with Land Bank and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) had also identified and addressed issues around failed farms. Assessments were done on these farms. A Curatorship Model was proposed, to deal primarily with the distressed emerging farmers who were clients of the Land Bank. This model gave the affected farmers the choice to enter into new agreements with the Land Bank, and allow the Bank to transfer control of the land to DRDLR, whilst allowing the farmers to access and use the land for farming purposes. The Curatorship Model was also proposing the transference of the non-performing production loans of the Land Bank, amounting to R24 million, to DAFF for an equivalent cash injection from DAFF.

Mr Zita noted that it was important for DAFF to obtain a comprehensive picture of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) status of major role players, and it would then brief the Committee on the findings. To this end, the Department was currently finalising the Performance Review process to assess BEE status of all major role players within the fishing industry, and would then take decisions on the best way to address transformation within that fishing industry, including the development of a BEE Charter for the Fishing Sector.

Mr Zita reported on the commissioning of the economic study to review the threshold for Exempted Micro Enterprises and Qualifying Small Enterprises. The AgriBEE Charter Council members agreed to appoint the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) to undertake this study. The Department of Trade and Industry advised the Charter Council that the proposed draft Sector Codes should be communicated to the DAFF Minister, who would then make an application to the dti.

Mr Zita reported back on regulations planned to address game farmers who were perceived as depriving agricultural farmers of land. It was felt that wildlife ranching was often the best production option in marginal areas where vegetation and access to water made it impossible to farm livestock without harming the environment. DAFF had developed a wildlife ranching policy, but this was taking many years to be finalised. There was still a lack of clarity about several aspects of wildlife ranching, what it included and what advantages it had over conventional animal agriculture. Therefore DAFF would give a presentation to the Committee to clarify matters and show how stockowners and keepers could be enabled to enter this sector.

In order to make funding more broadly accessible to farmers, the Department was reviewing its funding model by including a number of options and addressing how to assist seasonal farmers. It was planning to ensure market access for farmers, provide technical support through extension officers, and start developing an integrated funding model, in the form of a one-stop development fund to address the different funding needs of farmers. A model has already been conceptualised and drafted. The Department was calling upon National Treasury and stakeholders for input. The proposed fund should be functional by April 2011.

Key achievements of the Department for the Third Quarter 2010 briefing
Mr Zita outlined the key achievements of the Department for the Third Quarter of 2010, in each of the seven programmes. In respect of Programme 1: Administration, he reported that:
-
Reduction of vacancy rate was achieved by 11%, which exceeded the set targets;
- 75% of performance agreements were submitted, which was 5% over the target;
- 65% of employees had been trained against specified competencies, which achieved the target;
- 96% migration of fisheries users had been recorded;
- 92% of server migration had been achieved;
- The MAFISA funding had been 21.3% of the annual target of  2600;
- The Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) managed to reach 5.4% of the set target and 9.1% were reached by llima/Letsema programmes;
- 125 stakeholders were located within three developmental categories, of commercial, small holding and subsistence.

In regard to Programme 2:
Policy, Planning and Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr Zita reported that:
Delivery Outcome Agreements had been signed by all participating Ministers and the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency would be facilitating its second data forum meetings;
In respect of MAFISA, the Governance and Operational Policy Committee
(GOPC) inputs had been made to the framework and it would be tabled at DEXCO in the fourth quarter;
The Departmental Strategic & Operational Planning (SOP) Framework had been approved by DEXCO, and this document was in the process of being edited and designed;
The Departmental Service Delivery Improvement Plan (SDIP) was signed by the Director General and submitted to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).


Mr Zita outlined the achievements in Programme 3:
Economic Development, Trade and Marketing, summarising that the Department had submitted a feasibility report on the establishment of fresh produce collating facilities to the Industrial Development Corporation, Landbank, and dti for European Union funding, and to provincial Development Corporations for possible funding. It had also undertaken work on the European Union (EU) and Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)  negotiations and the TDCA Review, in an attempt to increase DAFF market access. The review process on the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and EFTAs (free trade agreements) had also started, and would be used to try and obtain additional market access. Mr Zita noted that all work undertaken in these different multi-and bi-lateral negotiations were aimed at increasing market access for  processed products. In addition, agreements were signed with Egypt, Congo Brazzaville and Kenya. Sixteen sustainable rural cooperatives had been established.

In respect of
Programme 4: Food Security and Agrarian Reform, Mr Zita reported on the figures for monitoring of  DAFF supported projects by Land settlement, which included 342 CASP projects and
192 projects geo-referenced. In respect of State farms supported by DAFF, 51 in total were supported, five had had renewed leases, caretakership or transfer and 46 were visited for Monitoring and Evaluation purposes. 7 218 community members had received training, and he outlined the figures for those trained by the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA) AgriSETA and FoodBevSETA, CASP and FIETA.

The Department had given input into the review of the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination, and had also provided vegetable starter packs in 16 houses for victims of gender-based violence, as identified by the Ministry for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities.

Mr Zita noted that two colleges, GADI and Elsenburg, were considering operating centres of rural wealth creation. He reported that in support of National Extension, 222 Community members (of whom 212 were previously disadvantaged, received training. A draft plan had been developed for the implementation of Zero Hunger in South Africa. 5000 households were supported via provision of seeds and seedlings, for nutrition security. A pilot report on Integrated Phase Classification for Gauteng had been produced.

In respect of Programme 5: Agriculture Production, Health and Food Safety, Mr Zita identified he following achievements:
Trainin
g of animal surveyors in the Comprehensive Provincial Breed Survey, and completion of the survey in all districts identified in the sample frame, with an average of 41 surveyors being employed per district;
Finalisation of the national milk production strategy, for internal discussion;
Completion of b
aseline studies for milk, poultry and pig producers, and publication of an article on the  pedigree livestock breeders to highlight the importance of this sector in providing affordable seed stock to, in particular, the emergent production sector;
Cultivar harvesting in 20 of the 22 localities;

Crop sequencing trial completion;
Assessment of 15 cultivars in pursuance of studies on the effect of late maturity alpha amylase in wheat;
Advisory services on good production practices to about 480 farmers and 85 extension officers, over a wide range of crops;
Publication of regulations on wheat and potatoes on
12 November 2010.

Mr Zita reported on achievements in
Programme 6: Forestry and Resources Management, which included:
Creation of
58 jobs in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) and conversion of 2 000 hectares through wattle jungle conversion, and creation of 70 jobs through rehabilitation programmes;
Production of the f
inal draft of the Sawlog Strategy, to be tabled at the Forestry Function Management Committee (FFMC), Forestry Branch and DEXCO in Quarter 4;
Development and approval of the Small Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) framework and strategy by FFMC;
Approval by FFMA of the Afforestation Strategy, and adoption of protocols;
Approval of the
Fuel Wood Strategy by FFMC;
Development of terms of reference for transport infrastructure requirements and advertisement of tenders;
Development of partnerships to fund Forestry Development projects;
Endorsement of the d
raft strategy by the Forestry Branch, which was to be presented in the Fourth Quarter;
Licensing of
12 962 for afforestation, including applications for Genus exchange;
Registration of four
Fire Protection Associations (FPAs);
Creation of 4410 job opportunities through Land Care;
Adoption of 147 commercial farmers on 40 134 hectares, of 525
Smallholder farmers, on 78 544 hectares, of 868 Subsistence farmers on 20 281 hectares;
Presentation of the
Policy Framework on Irrigation in South Africa

Finally, Mr Zita outlined the achievements in
Programme 7: Marine Fisheries and Coastal Management. These included:
Finalisation of three Section
21 applications for the transfer of rights, with three being received;
Implementation of a Security and Community project at five harbours;
Re-activation of three previously dormant Harbour User Committees;
Initiation, in conjunction with the Department of Public Works (DPW) of four priority slipway maintenance contracts;
Implementation of about 40% of the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) recommendations;
Improvement of communication with laboratories on turnaround and reporting;
Random sampling being carried out;
Reduction of the turnaround time for ASP testing;
Running of the Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrophotometer (LCMS), which was screening with the library of biotoxins provided by international experts. Four DAFF officials had received training on the instrument;
Two meetings of the Abalone Scientific Working Group (SWG) to update data, and refine research strategy;
Carrying out of Diving surveys (FIAS) in Zones A & D and Robben Island;
Sampling of commercial catches and of confiscated product, as well as ranched product from Port Nolloth;
Review of the status of resources and catch recommendations were approved.

Mr Zita also set out that permit conditions for West Coast Rock Lobster were reviewed and improved for 2010/11. The details about the decrease in the recreational limits, investigation of rights holders, and institution of proceedings were outlined. There had been one case finalized, where a fine of R10 000 was imposed R190 000 forfeited to the State

Mr Zita concluded that the Department had shown major progress and improvement towards achieving its set targets. Most programmes indicated that the deliverables would be achieved as planned, although in some the approved structures had yet to be implemented. However, non-completion of confirmation of annual performance plans for the year under review had resulted in major reporting challenges. The Department was currently attending to the planning process for the 2011/12 financial-year.

Discussion on matters outstanding from 2010
Ms M Mosoana (ANC) suggested the Department should write a full report on issues that were not properly covered for submission to the Committee.

Mr D Du Toit (DA) suggested that, in respect of Agricultural Institutes, the Department should try to introduce distance learning for students, which could then be monitored by extension officers.

Mr du Toit suggested that the Department must be careful, when converting individual fishing rights into collectives, that whatever was done was really effective, and suggested that the legal issues around rights must be thoroughly examined. He urged that the Committee and Department should not put “a colour label” on the issue of black medium-sized companies selling rights to large white companies, but instead the straightforward facts should be presented so the Committee could draw guidelines.

Mr Zita explained that in regard to sale issues, he had requested a mini summit where people could openly air their requests around fishery matters, so that they did not blame DAFF. He said that in reality there were white companies working with DAFF to solve these problems, and who were making submissions.

Mr L Bosman (DA) commented that DAFF should try to promote sustainability of agriculture and legislate a framework to allow people to farm profitably. He urged that agricultural issues should be looked at holistically, and farmers should be given space to raise issues affecting them. He welcomed the idea of putting agricultural colleges under the auspices of the Department of Higher Education and Training as it had the capacity to run colleges, which DAFF did not have.

Mr Mkhululi Mankazana, Deputy Director-General: Sector Services and Partnerships, DAFF, responded that the Department had provided tools to capacitate extension officers, but unfortunately the Department did not have control over extension officers, as this lay with the provinces, and they had been asked to compile a database of extension officers. The qualifications for extension officers had been approved and submitted to universities, who still needed time to phase in those qualifications.

Mr L Zita added that the Department was planning to open a hotline that would enable a smallholder to advise Head Office in Pretoria of lack of service by an extension officer. Extension officers should stay where their clients were located, although they tended to stay far away from their work locations, and it would not be easy to persuade them to stay in rural areas.

The Chairperson enquired about progress on the AgriBEE Charter, saying he was worried about the apparent lack of action.

Mr Zita replied that the AgriBEE Council was proposing changes to the Charter, and outstanding issues related to the threshold and the proposals to lower it, which was why a study had been commissioned.

Discussion around key achievements
Mr Du Toit suggested that Mr Zita should make a firm decision as to what was needed to police the coastline properly, and catch the poachers. A business plan should then be submitted to the Committee, who could take the matter forward. It was intolerable that the Eastern Cape should have only one policeman patrolling its coastline.

Mr Richard Seleke, Acting Deputy Director General: Fisheries, DAFF, explained the Department had developed a strategy draft document, but this needed to be finalised. DAFF was fostering relations with other security agencies. In Western Cape, DAFF had piloted an Anti-Poaching Project, using military veterans, in which some success was recorded, and this was planned to be extended to Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Ms Mosoane wanted to know if the 4 410 job opportunities were created through Land Care. She further enquired about the status of the project that delivered tractors to the provinces.

Mr Zita explained that although there were clear indications as to how many jobs would be created by the Department, this was not yet for publication. He reported that tractors were delivered to Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, and this programme would be rolled out to other provinces.

Ms N Twala (ANC) enquired about those provinces that had cooperatives and whether the Department was encouraging people, through campaigns, to form cooperatives.

Mr du Toit urged Mr Zita not to underestimate the issue of cooperatives, saying that these had previously proven to be successful in South Africa.

Mr Zita replied that there was a lot of as yet unexplored potential in cooperatives. His interaction with Rhodes University students had highlighted that African peasants were protected by cooperatives against global adverse effects.

Mr Bosman said the Committee would like to know more about the trade agreements and how they were structured.

Mr Zita stated that these agreements were a generalised trade relationship, not relating to any specific markets, to enable trade with countries. The agreements with Egypt related to meat. A comprehensive report would be tabled to the Committee on trade plans.

Ms Mosoane commented that the Department did not appear to be concerned enough about eradication of non-indigenous plants.

Mr Zita responded that perhaps this was not fully reported and said that some alien plants were actually useful, for instance for the building of furniture. However, criteria had been developed, as appropriate, for removal of alien plants and there was a possibility of job creation through these programmes.

Ms Mosoane was concerned that MAFISA had a limited ability to help emerging farmers, as it indicated that most of them were blacklisted, which was also the reason why they had not been assisted until now.

Mr Zita replied that developmental institutions would be approached to help farmers who were blacklisted.

Chairperson asked about the status of the agricultural colleges.

Mr Zita explained that a senior Departmental member had been given the task of looking at ways to improve and strengthen these colleges.

Mr Zita then commented on irrigation schemes, saying that although there was no budget for them, some in Lusikisiki had been funded through MAFISA. Provinces had been advised to prioritise irrigation schemes in former homelands, with the aim of revitalising them However, there was also ongoing work on irrigation schemes in rural areas. The Department was also working on a water catchment strategy for smallholders, although there were challenges in that Departmental engineers were more used to working on large projects.

The meeting was adjourned.


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