Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Budget Review and Recommendation Report 2011

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

17 October 2011
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries met to discuss the Budget Review and Recommendation Report for year 2011. Members agreed to go through the document but not discuss the specifics line by line; instead the Committee chose to listen to the comments of Members to add to the observations and recommendations.

Members commented on the lack of coordination between the national, provinces and municipalities. They further indicated the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) was working in isolation and not involving other role players in its activities Hence it would be difficult for it to achieve its goals. Moreover, DAFF was not clear on what it would like to achieve in years to come. Lastly, it was noted that more money should be pumped into research in order to get information on what needed to be done and that DAFF should protect or enhance projects that had been successful over the years instead of letting them die and creating new ones in untested territories.

Meeting report

Budget Review and Recommendations Report
The Chairperson commented that the new vision in the Report was different from the old one. The Integrated Growth Development Plan (IGDP) should talk more to a serious alignment and it was not clear if the new vision was aligned with it. It was not clear what the Department intended to achieve in three years’ time. It was not clear on what it was striving to achieve.

Mr N du Toit (DA) highlighted that the conclusion section of the Report was missing timeframes on things to be achieved. We need to know who was being targeted, and to bear in mind that space and resources were limited. We need to build plans and models, and find solutions.

Mr S Abram (ANC) said the Department would find it difficult to achieve its goals because its house was not in order. No report has been given on the filling of vacancies. The Department can have best plans, but implementation would not work unless all agriculture role players were taken on board. For example, DAFF was conducting a research project on smallholder farmers but the Committee was not aware of that. DAFF was failing to interact with its various stakeholders in agriculture. So, there was no point for DAFF to come up with fancy plans if it was failing to involve other sectors within the agricultural industry. It was clear DAFF was not willing to create a healthy environment for growth within the agriculture sector.

Mr L Gaehler (UDM) suggested that the Committee should consider two things. First, the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) needed more funding because it appeared that there was not enough research being done. Second, there was a lack of coordination between national, provincial and municipalities. This was such a big issue. It could be addressed if enough research was done. As a result, government was trying to do things for the people without involving the people. The trouble started because at provincial level things were done differently. Each province had its own dynamics. So emphasis should be put on research to inform issues that needed to be addressed.

Mr Abram added that during the oversight visit of the Committee it came to light that there was lack of coordination between provincial departments of DAFF. DAFF should explain how funds were allocated and monitored because sometimes provincial committees on agriculture refused to meet a member who came from the national Agriculture Committee especially when the member wanted to know about the projects they were busy with.

The Chairperson found it baffling that enhancements of something that existed and worked well was not happening but instead DAFF was starting something new in an untested area. He cited the collapsed Ram Project in the Eastern Cape [to improve the genetic pool of communal sheep]. The project was started in the 1990s but now it had stopped. Consequently, wool was going to become a scarce commodity yet the Eastern Cape was the centre of wool. DAFF should protect what was good, and collaboration should kick in on matters like these. Another issue was that 11% of dry arable land was not in use in South Africa. So research should inform one about what to plant or invest in that land.

Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) remarked that during the oversight visit by the Committee it came to their attention that certain land was restored to farmers. The focus now should be on what possibly should be farmed on that land. Lack of coordination between national and provincial departments was resulting in people occupying land illegally and using farms inappropriately.

Finally, Mr Abram said that there was research done by the Department of Agriculture many years ago to identify land that could potentially be put under “irrigation”. These reports are collecting dust in the Department. This information was vital for the future of the country. Secondly, with regard to the Ram Project – When they could not get any help from the Department of Agriculture, they went and spoke to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform who gave them money, which allowed the project to continue. He warned the Department to be careful. He had to turn to the Department of Rural Development as well when he needed help with that project in the Free State. When the Department gloated about what they were doing, it was not reflected in the Members own experiences of what happened on the ground. The Ram Project was an agriculture project in the Eastern Cape, but they had to go to the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to be assisted. The Department had to tell the Committee what it was doing. As far as he was concerned, there were too many vacancies in the Department. He hoped that the President would decide, very soon, to take agriculture and move it to rural development.

The meeting was adjourned.


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