The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) briefed the Committee on its fourth quarter performance for the 2010/11 financial year. The Department firstly outlined its key achievements in each programme, and then highlighted the challenges, most of which were centred in the Economic Development, Trade and Marketing branch. These included limited public and private investment in storage facilities to support struggling smallholder farmers, and limited public and private investment in processing support for smallholder farmers. DAFF was also still grappling with the transition of the three functions into the new Department, although it was making headway. The expenditure report was then presented, showing the spending by month, programme and category. Overall, the Department had achieved R3. 8 billion (97.4%) of the budget of R3.9 billion. There was thus underspending of R1.23 million (2.6%). In this particular quarter, the expenditure across all programmes had averaged 20%, instead of 25%. Certain transfers had been withheld under the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme and Ilima Letsema, and there were rollovers.Several Committee Members were critical of the presentations. Firstly, they complained that the briefing document had only reached them on the morning of the meeting, leaving them no time to prepare. It also showed errors and inconsistencies. The financial statements gave the figures only, with no supporting explanations or notes. The full Report was a thick document that would take several days to study and digest. Overall, Members commented that the quality of this public document was unacceptable.
Members were also critical of the broad scope of the presentation and the general lack of detail. Amongst the matters that they raised as needing further clarity was the definition and groupings of farmers, those to whom support had been given, and details of spending. Questions were also raised with regard to tractors that were not being utilised, as well as questionable procurement procedures and embezzlement of funds that had not been accounted for. Finally, the Department admitted that it would provide further written reports. Food security was also called into question, and the Department was challenged to start a long term twenty to thirty year plan, taking projections on demographics into account, and noting that food security would only be achieved if programmes to persuade people to farm were successful. Members also demanded details of the foot and mouth disease, and avian flu outbreaks, broken fences, drought and flood reports, none of which were mentioned in the Report. The Department assured Members that these matters had arisen in the fourth quarter and would be included in the next report. Members were particularly concerned to know how much had been paid out, and to whom, as they had received reports that commercial farmers were not being assisted and had had to lay off workers. Colleges of agriculture and their validity were also questioned, as members required more detail which was not provided in the report. There was an appeal by Members that the Department must interact with the Committee on a more regular basis, and provide sufficient information for the Committee to do proper oversight.
Election of Acting Chairperson
An apology from the Committee Chairperson, Mr M Johnson (ANC) was given. In accordance with Parliamentary rules, Ms N Twala (ANC), was elected to chair the meeting.
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) 4th quarter performance report
Mr Sipho Ntombela, Acting Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries gave an apology for the absence of the Director General. He then tabled the Organisational Performance Report (the Report) of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry an Fisheries (DAFF or the Department) for the fourth quarter of the 2010/2011 financial year.
He noted that his presentation was a summarised version of the full Report. He firstly gave an overview, dealing with the performance in the 4th quarter of 2010/11 against the planned deliverables of Part 5 of the strategic plan which had previously been presented to the Committee. The Report focused on progress made and meeting of targets, and also outlined any remedial action required.
Mr S Abram (ANC) interrupted at this point to note that the Committee Members had only received the document on the morning of the meeting. This was of concern, as he would not be able to make the type of contribution to the meeting that he wished, having been unable to read through the document, do research and a thorough preparation for the meeting. He asked that the Department must send briefing documents at least ten days prior to a scheduled meeting. He expressed his disappointment at the late arrival of the documents. Arrangements had been made with the Department in the past to send documents to Members at least 10 days in advance. This arrangement had not been adhered to, and it was unacceptable.
The Acting Chairperson asked other Members to confirm that they too had only received their documents that morning.
Mr N Du Toit (DA) confirmed that it the documents had been received on that morning. He had specifically checked his inbox on Thursday, but nothing had been received.
Mr L Tolo (Cope) agreed with both Mr Du Toit and Mr Abram.
The Acting Chairperson agreed with Mr Abram that there was a long-standing arrangement that the Department should send documents to Committee Members at least ten days prior to meetings.
Dr Mono Mashaba, Chief Director: Operating Systems, DAFF, replied that the documents had been delivered on Wednesday, 15 June 2011.
The Acting Chairperson noted that the late delivery of documents was very serious, as Members had to perform oversight over the Department and, without sight of the documents, would be unable to engage meaningfully and perform their oversight duty adequately .
Mr Abram responded to Dr Mashaba’s claim that the documents had been delivered on Wednesday, by saying that when he had left late on Wednesday there had been no documents in his pigeon hole.
The Acting Chairperson noted all of the issues raised and responded that corrective action would be taken.
Mr Sipho Ntombela noted all of the concerns raised by members. He then continued with the presentation.
The Department had been redesigned in order to accommodate both forestry and fisheries functions which had been transferred into the Ministry. There were seven branches or programmes in the Department. There was currently misalignment between the functional branches and the budget structure of the Department, due to the redesign and the addition of the forestry and fisheries functions. It was currently trying to work to create harmony between the functional branches and their budget structure.
The Department’s seven programmes were outlined as: Administration, Policy Planning and Monitoring and Evaluation; Economic Development, Trade and Marketing, Food Security and Agrarian Reform, Agricultural Production Health and Food Safety; Forestry and Resources Management and Marine Fisheries and Coastal Management. Key achievements would be highlighted in each of these programmes.
Programme 1: Administration was a support programme to the whole Department. The Human Resources Management (HRM) had three broad functions which had been merged and therefore the HRM policies had to be harmonised for efficiency. Fourteen of these Human Resource policies were submitted to the Internal Governance and Operational Policy Committee, meaning that 90% of this target had been met.
He noted that the Micro-Agricultural Financial Institutions of South Africa (MAFISA) retailing institutions disbursed 3 910 loans, exceeding the original target by 50%. In relation to the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme, (CASP), the set target had been 2 600 farmers and a total of 3 473 subsistence farmers had been supported through Ilima Letsema.
The migration of servers into one server in pursuance of the amalgamation of functions into the new Department had also been 100% completed, and this included phases 1 and 2 of Forestry. In relation to performance agreements for senior managers, close to 80% of performance agreements had been submitted for this quarter.
Mr Ntombela then outlined programme 2’s achievements. The Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) reporting framework was approved by the Executive Committee of the Department and was published on the Departmental intranet. The strategic operational plan framework was also approved by the Executive Committee and was also published. The strategic plan for the Department for the years 2011/12 up to 2014/15 was tabled in Parliament. The service delivery improvement plan was completed and published as an annexure to the strategic plan for 2011/12 and 2014/15.
Programme 3: Economic Development Trade and Marketing had completed a feasibility report on the establishment of fresh produce and storage facilities was completed. Funding proposals were sent to Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Landbank, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and the Employment Creation Fund (ECF) for possible funding. In terms of agricultural exports, 43% (based on preliminary data from 2010) was exported to markets other than the European Union (EU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC). 57%( based on preliminary data for 2010) of agricultural exports were exported to the EU and SADC, which were the country’s biggest export destinations to date. 52% of exports were processed products for 2010. 39 rural cooperatives for Fisheries and Forestry were established for the period under review.
Mr Ntombela said that the Agricultural Broad-based Economic Empowerment (AgriBEE) Fund Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between DAFF and the Landbank was signed by both parties, and it was expected that the disbursement of funds would resume in the first quarter of the 2011/12 financial year. In addition to this, a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deal in the vineyard industry between historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs and the existing white owner of a wine distillery was facilitated in
The Food Security and Agrarian Reform Programme had completed a draft food security implementation plan, and completed its draft Zero Hunger Strategy Plan. A total of 1 388 projects had been monitored for the period under review. 973 youth had received training in various skills at colleges of agriculture. A further 7 250 youth received training at universities and technikons. At the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) course level, 604 attended AgriSETA courses, 770 attended FoodBev, 705 attended FIETA, 800 attended CASP and a further 40 community members (38 being previously disadvantaged) were trained at GADI College. He outlined that there were currently four colleges of agriculture, being
Moving on to the Agriculture Production, Health and Food Safety programme, Mr Ntombela said that the Gariep Aquaculture facility construction was completed in the
In the branch dealing with Forestry and Resources Management, 492 green jobs were created via the Forestry Livelihood Strategy, of which 292 were in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) and 200 in
In the Marine Fisheries and Coastal Management Programme, Mr Ntombela noted that the Hake Recovery Strategy yielded good results and there were definite signs that the stocks were increasing, albeit at a slower rate. The latest standardised indices showed an overall increase on both the South and West coasts. 2.2% of rights holders in the hake sector were investigated, 5.3% in the squid sector were investigated and 1.3% in the line fish sector.
Mr Du Toit interjected to ask whether the figures quoted in the presentation were in metric tonnes.
This was confirmed.
Mr Ntombela then outlined the constraints faced by the Department, and said that most were centred in the Economic Development, Trade and Marketing branch. Firstly, there was limited public and private investment in storage facilities to support struggling small holder farmers, who experienced limited or no storage infrastructure in the agricultural and forestry sector. Secondly, there had been limited public and private investment in processing support for smallholder farmers who experienced limited or no access to processing facilities. These challenges had merely been highlighted, but the Department was dealing with it.
In conclusion, Mr Ntombela explained that the 2010/11 had been one of the most challenging for the Department as it was still dealing with the transition. This was not being proffered as an excuse, but was a real challenge. In addition, the current structure was not aligned to parts 4 and 5 of the 2010/11 strategic plan. However, despite these challenges, the Department had shown major progress overall and a great improvement towards achieving its set targets.
Mr Ntombela briefly outlined the Department’s future, saying that the planning processes were completed, and implementation of plans for the 2011/12 financial year commenced on 1 April 2011. The planning process had been aligned to the Presidential outcomes 4, 7 and 10. The Department was working on aligning and standardising all monitoring and evaluation responsibilities, including reporting and verification within the Department and the provincial Departments of Agriculture and all State owned enterprises (SOEs). The Department was currently also working with Provincial Departments of Agriculture to improve quality on performance of information.
Mr Johan Venter, Acting Chief Financial Officer, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, presented the financial statements. He explained that the benchmark for the quarter was 25% spending. The expenditure was tabled per programme. and per month, as well as the total spending for this quarter, measured against benchmarks for each programme (see attached presentation for full details).
He summarised the spending as follows:
Programme 1: Administration: R116, 5 million (24.4%).
Programme 2 Production of Resources Management: R106, 1 million (24%)
Programme 3: Agricultural Support Services: R 162.3 million (9.3%), Mr Venter explained that there had been under performance in the provinces in terms of the Division of Revenue relating to CASP, and therefore funds had been withheld, with the approval of National Treasury (NT).
Programme 4: Trade and Agricultural Development: R 11,9 million (12.3%) Programme 4 had also been under spending due to non-completion of a project of registering small holder farmers. The R19.5 million was to be rolled over to the next financial year.
Programme 5: Food Safety and Bio Security Programme: 31.7% spending due to the combating of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Limpopo, as well as the finalisation of the classical swine fever (CSF) claims that emanated from the previous financial year in the
Programme 6: Forestry had a spending of R173 million (33%) and he explained that a payment had been made during this quarter to Sanparks.
Programme 7: Fisheries spent R106 million (35.2%), and he explained that the salaries had exceeded the amount budgeted.
Mr Venter noted that in total, the spending in this quarter amounted to R792.2 million, or 20%.
He then set out the expenditure for the quarter by economic classification (see attached presentation for details). He noted that the interest on rent figures related to payments made under finance leases, which included cars and photocopiers. Rent on land related to forestry land rented in
He concluded that the Department had spent R3. 8 billion (97.4%) of the budget of R3.9 billion. There was thus underspending of R1.23 million (2.6%)
The Acting Chairperson thanked Mr Venter for his presentation but noted that the document handed out contained only figures, and not the explanations, which made it difficult to understand, particularly since Mr Venter had also gone through this document very fast. It would have been helpful to include notes, at the very least, in the document. She also reiterated that he Committee had not been given a chance to prepare on this in advance owing to the late arrival of the documents.
Mr S Abram (ANC) thanked the presenters but noted that detail was lacking. The report contained no clear definition of smallholder or subsistence farmers. Various terms were used in the Report, but not defined for the purpose of meaningful engagement.
Mr Abram asked what the Ilima Letsema programme was. He questioned whether recipients under this particular programme had received their money on time. He mentioned that the Committee had received reports that some people had only received their seed in March, although it should have bee planted in the previous October.
Mr Abram also noted that the Committee had visited some of the flood ravaged areas, and asked if any assistance was being given to the farmers affected by the flood. If so, he asked who they were and what level of assistance was offered. Some reports had suggested that only “emerging farmers” were being helped. If this was true, then he wanted to know how exactly an “emerging farmer” was defined, how long she or he would be regarded as “emerging” and when graduation to the next level was deemed to happen. The reports suggested that commercial farmers had not received assistance in flooded areas, and, because of this, were likely to have to retrench their labourers, meaning that unemployment would rise. Commercial farmers also needed assistance, as this would help the economy.
Mr Ntombela thanked the Members for their questions and replied that some would require full details, and perhaps a formal briefing. This applied to questions on the Ilima Letsema and the Zero Hunger Strategy Report. Questions around the impact on exports would be addressed in a written report, which would also include details of what the various programmes were achieving on the ground.
Mr Peter Thabetha, Acting Director General, DAFF, also suggested that a detailed report be written and presented to the Committee, and the Department would be happy to comply with any deadlines that the Committee wished to propose.
Mr Abram noted that the Organisational Performance Report was a public document, which may be used by people other than Parliamentarians, and it was unacceptable for it to have so many errors. He also felt that the overall document was not neatly presented.
Mr Ntombela apologised, but repeated that what he had presented today was a summary of the full Report and powerpoint presentation.
Mr L Bosman (DA) agreed with the previous comments by other Members about the lack of focus and clarity and thought that Members would have difficulty, because of time constraints, in getting all the answers they needed.
Mr Bosman asked that the Department should highlight more issues in the sector, as this had not been fully discussed.
Mr Bosman asked for the status in regard to the foot and mouth disease, and the country’s export status. He noted that the borders had been closed to game, but that this information had reached him not from the Department, but the press.
Mr N Du Toit (DA) also asked what the status was on the foot and mouth disease, and did not understand how a serious outbreak was not reported to the Committee. Mr du Toit also enquired into the state of the country’s fences, asking if these fences were only down in KZN and
Mr Bosman also asked what was happening in regard to avian flu, since
Dr Bothle Modisane, Chief Director, DAFF, acknowledged that fences were important, that the state of the fences was undesirable, and that the Department was concerned about it. He explained that the fences had been fixed but that they had been vandalised by criminals. The DAFF had to call in the Defence Force to patrol, as security forces were being shot at. However, he noted that the KZN outbreaks of disease could not be attributed either to the state of the fences, or to imports from
Dr Modisane added that the avian flu situation was slightly better, although
Mr Du Toit asked why the foot and mouth disease was being attributed to internal movement and not to the broken fences. He asked for proof that it was indeed internal movement, rather than the broken fences, causing the problem, and also for proof that the disease was not coming from
Dr Modisane explained that the foot and mouth disease virus had been isolated in transported buffalo. The virus had indeed been diagnosed in
Mr Bosman was concerned that there had been no timely feedback on the floods, which had already occurred in January, yet no report-backs were given.
Mr Bosman enquired about loans that had been given to farmers, and what the repayment rate was. He would not like to see the Department ‘giving money away’. He enquired if there was any oversight. He also questioned whether the farmers were indeed producing, as his feedback from people on the ground seemed at odds with what the Department had reported. One service provider, who had been back to the farm, had nothing to plant. Furthermore, there seemed to be corruption, as he had heard of fictitious invoices for alleged sales of goods to fictitious people. Mr Bosman wanted to know whether the Department was wasting money, and said he needed this response in writing.
Mr Bosman then questioned the exports on page 10, which did not appear to make sense. He asked what type of targets the Department was setting, and if they were sustainable, pointing out that sustainability was only achieved once a profit was being turned.
Mr Bosman also questioned the draft food security policy as well as the hunger strategy, commenting that they seemed to lack detail and definition.
Mr du Toit said that the thick document presented to the Committee was not useful, as the Committee would have needed at least two weeks to read through it.
Mr Siphiwe Mkhize, Director, DAFF, answered all the comments on the structure of the Report, by saying that the Department, in compiling the report, had followed National Treasury guidelines.
Mr du Toit asked for clarity with regard to specification of the hake mentioned, asking whether it was deep water hake or line hake. He stated that it was impossible for 2.2% of rights holders to be represented in the hake sector, as there were only a few big companies and he presumed that it must apply to line hake.
Mr du Toit also wanted to get a report on provincial spending. He noted that there was plenty of money being spent in the provinces, but questioned whether there were sufficient controls.
Mr Venter responded on the questions relating to the financial report. He explained that when the Department presented again in September, all the information would be in that report, and this would include all the reporting on the flooding, and about the proposals that had been submitted to the National Treasury for funding.
Mr du Toit noted that there was a forensic report on Fisheries, but nothing had been said by the Minister, and he asked if the Committee could get access to this report, since the Committee could not perform an oversight duty properly if it was not being kept informed.
Mr Wickness Rooifontein, Chief Financial Officer for Fisheries, DAFF, agreed that more detail would be included in the September Annual Report presentation, including all the challenges and achievements. The operational issues such as assistance given to fishermen would also be addressed in that report.
Ms M Pilusa-Mosoane (ANC) referred to page 12 and asked what kind of skills the youth were getting, since there was no clarity, and also asked for the names of these colleges so the Committee could do oversight.
Mr Mokutule Kgelebole, Acting Deputy Director General, DAFF, explained that there were12 colleges of agriculture in the country. All were functional and relevant to the needs of the country. The only two provinces without colleges were
He expanded that the Department did not only see its oversight responsibilities as extending to the universities alone, also but also to universities of technology, and it would monitor enrolments, race and gender statistics and levels of study, including getting numbers on graduations at the various levels, and other comprehensive reports on all these universities and technikons. In addition the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) were signing off annual skills plans, and the Department monitored their skills training.
He added that the colleges operating in the rural areas were encouraged to engage in rural wealth creation. The Department also continued to influence colleges of agriculture to configure their curricula so that they also came up with training programmes for people to run centres, so that they could create wealth for themselves.
Ms Pilusa-Mosoane also asked for clarification on the figure of R7 250 on page 12, asking how the Department had arrived at this figure.
Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) noted that R450 million had been spent on tractors. He enquired how much had been made out of production from arable land. He also noted that the tractors were not used to benefit all people and were only used for certain crops during the season, whilst for the rest of the time they were apparently locked away, and asked why.
Mr Mkhize explained that only KZN and
Mr Cebekhulu followed up, asking why the tractors were not being used in KZN, as people were asked to fill in forms and land had been prepared for utilisation, but the tractors were not being used.
Mr Bosman noted that the fraud in
Mr Cebekhulu wanted to know what the Department was doing to address drought.
Mr Tolo mentioned that the country would soon face a problem as people did not know how to grow their own food.
Mr Bosman asked why the Department did not yet have a strategic plan for food security. He pointed out that the international press were quoted as saying that governments were sleepwalking through the food security problem and that this country was no different. He noted that there was no map showing under-utilised land, to address food security concerns.
Mr Bosman drew the Department’s attention to page 10 of the document and pointed out that the calculations did not make any sense. He asked how agricultural colleges could be rural wealth creation.
Mr Abram felt that none of his questions had been addressed properly. He pointed out that some farmers were on the verge of bankruptcy. He asked why the Committee was not receiving any reports, saying that these had been requested for a considerable time.
Mr Abram also said that the Committee had asked “umpteen times” for reports on small holder farmers and subsistence farmers but had never received them. He pointed out that tax payers needed to know how their money was being spent.
Mr Thabetha explained that there were only three categories of farmers: subsistence, small holders and commercial farmers. The concept of an emerging farmer had long ago been abandoned.
Mr Abram was very concerned about the lack of proper answers on tractors, and asked why it did not simply admit that the procurement process for the tractors had been compromised.
Mr Mkhize admitted that that had been a compromise, and this was the reason for putting the tractor programme on hold. There would be 85 tractors per province as soon as the loopholes had been closed. The tractor programme would be addressed in the next quarterly report.
Mr Abram requested a full report from the Department on the procurement processes for the tractors. He asked for exact figures as to how much money was actually lost by government. The report would also have to include measures to be implemented to prevent a recurrence.
Mr Abram also noted that R100 million appeared to have vanished from the AgriBEE fund. He pointed out that although charges had been brought against individuals, this only accounted for R40 million and wanted to know what happened to the other R80 million.
Mr Abram said he wanted to know exactly how the money allocated to the Department was being spent, and if the projects were “real”. He received regular interaction from people on the ground, an said that this the kind of accountability that he wanted also from the Department.
Mr Abram reiterated that he needed to know on whom the money was spent.
Mr Abram complained that slide 6, mentioning research solutions on wheat production, was not detailed enough. He wanted clarity exactly how much this was costing, and how many people were fed.
Mr Abram noted that the reports may have been drawn along guidelines but, in regard to the comment about National Treasury, this Committee needed detailed reports with clear outcomes.
Mr Ntombela agreed that the formats for the reports had been prescribed and would be adhered to especially with regards to more detailed information.
Mr Tolo addressed the Acting Chairperson, saying that not all Committee Members were being allotted equal time allocations to bring across their point.
Mr Du Toit asked the Department if it would be willing to prepare a twenty to thirty year strategy, showing figures and percentages, as the demographic projections for sub-Saharan
Mr Thabeta explained that the Planning Commission was currently finalising its report and that a long term plan required additional funding.
Mr Bosman mentioned that there was a compulsory Grapefruit marketing levy, which was only applicable to
Mr Abram noted that part of promoting South Africans into farming meant that the country should become less dependent on imports.
The Acting Chairperson requested an expenditure report.
Mr Venter explained that the Performance Audit Report would be included in the Annual Report in September. This would be a full report on expenditure for 2011/12.
The Acting Chairperson responded that she had understood that the Committee would be receiving a full expenditure report, which would assist the Committee with the Budget Review process.
Mr Venter explained that the figures would not change but would be final.
Mr Abram noted that quarterly reports showed trends and therefore these expenditure trends could be traced.
Mr Abram then asked for a date on which the Committee could meet again with the Department.
Dr Mashaba admitted that the Department had room for improvement. He suggested that the Department could provide the further responses required by 8 July.
Mr Venter noted that if the Department had a clearer picture of what the Committee required, it could improve its reporting.
The Acting Chairperson thanked all for a fruitful meeting, and hoped that the quality of reporting could improve.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Organisational Performance Report Quarter 4 Report 2010/2011
- Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Expenditure & Performance Trends Quarter 4 – 2010/11 presentation
- Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 4th quarter 2010/11 Report presentation
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