Meeting SummaryThe Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) updated the Committee on three programmes being managed by that Department. The Micro Agriculture Finance Institute of South Africa (MAFISA) had allocated R470 million to various institutions, and R260 million had been transferred to date. Two institutions, the Mpumalanga Agricultural Development Corporation and the Gauteng Economic Propeller had disbursed so little of their funds that their agreements had been terminated and the Department had requested that funds be returned. The
The first and second quarter reports for the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) showed that a total of R1 billion had been allocated for the 2011/2012 financial year. This was spread across all nine provinces, but provinces were also encouraged to share their funding with other provincial entities where possible. The funds were spent on various grants, projects, training programmes and agricultural colleges.
A report on the Ilima/Letsema project showed that funding was paid out, at 25% of budget per quarter, but only two provinces, the Free State and Western Cape had spent the full amount, although it was explained that this was because their planting took place at different times of the year, and it was expected that expenditure in the provinces who were only planting now would increase in the next quarters.
Members requested information on the reasons for slow fund disbursement and on the criteria used in choosing the recipients of grants. Questions were asked on low job creation in Kwazulu Natal, the efficacy of agricultural colleges, and the timeframe given for institutions to return funds to the Department. Information on the MAFISA projects and the nature of follow up given to all projects was requested. Members expressed concern that there did not appear to be adequate monitoring by the Department. The Department was asked to provide answers in writing by 25 November.
The Department of Water Affairs then gave its Blue and Green Drop Reports, noting that this system was introduced to improve and incentivise drinking water and waste water management, by building and rewarding excellence. Targeted risk-based regulation was introduced to increase monitoring and reduce risk. Blue Drop certification was given if a 95% score was achieved across a number of different categories. 914 water supply systems had been assessed in 2011 and the national weighted average score had improved.
MAFISA, Ilima-Letsema and CASP programme updates: 1st and 2nd quarter 2011/12 programme reports: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries presentation
Micro Agriculture Finance Institute of South Africa (MAFISA) performance report
Mr Jacob Hlatshwayo, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, began the presentation with a breakdown of the Micro Agriculture Finance Institute of South Africa (MAFISA) expenditure as at 31 October 2011 on intermediary entities.
He noted that in the first and second quarters of the 2011/12 financial year, R470 million was allocated to these institutions, but only R260 million had been transferred thus far. R100 million had been allocated to the Mpumalanga Agricultural Development Corporation (MADC/MEGA) and R50 million had been transferred, but thus far only R4.3 million of that had been disbursed. The Gauteng Economic Propeller had received R10 million of its allocated R30 million and had not yet disbursed even R1 million. Both institutions had been challenged due to merger processes and lack of capacity.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF or the Department) had had a series of meetings with both institutions and had been promised that performance would improve. The agreements made it clear that if the Department was not happy with the performance of an institution, funds would be recalled. This had eventually been the course of action taken and the agreements had been terminated. Letters had been sent requesting the return of funds. Kaapagri, another low disbursement performer would also be asked to return funds. The agreement with Sugar Association of South Africa (SASA) was new and therefore its low distribution figure (it had disbursed R4.1 million of R20 million) was of less concern.
The disbursement per province was listed, showing that the
Mr Hlatshwayo outlined the challenges for the Department. These included the fragmentation of support offered to different intermediaries. The proposed solution was to focus on integrated support so that every application received would be assessed, to check if the institution was already receiving funds from another area of government. Infrastructure also presented challenges, and better integration would also be developed in this area. The challenge of skills and knowledge would receive particular focus through a mentorship programme for training farmers. The challenge of capacity loss within institutions was seen to be beyond the Department’s control.
Weather and climate risk was another area that Mr Hlatshwayo wished to highlight in particular to the Committee.
Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) performance report
Ms Elder Mtshiza, Project Co-ordinator, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, presented the first and second quarterly reports for the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP). She began with the disbursement schedule. There was a total of just over R1 billion allocated across the nine provinces, of which the
Expenditure trends as at the end of September 2011 revealed that
The reporting template for farmers supported by CASP in each province had been altered, so as to establish whether support was going to new farmers or farmers who had previously received grants. The figures from Kwazulu Natal did not yet contain this information. No information on gender was given either, and this had been raised with the province.
Ilima/Letsema project report
Ms Mtshiza then gave the second part of her presentation, which focussed on the Ilima/ Letsema project. 25% of allocated funds had been paid out during each quarter. Because of the production cycle of seasons, many provinces were struggling to spend their full funds and only two provinces had managed to spend the total of 50% they had received so far. These were the
She noted that the provinces were not being precise in predicting their quarter-by-quarter financial needs.
A total of 4 021 farmers had been supported through Ilima/Letsema.
CASP would provide eleven agricultural colleges in seven provinces with infrastructural improvements, retraining of staff and governance strengthening.
Lessons taken from high performance provinces had been compiled in a standard operational procedure for all grants and financial support. This had been adopted by Treasury and circulated to all the provinces in an effort to push them toward best practice.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for the presentation. Due to time constraints, the Committee asked that the Department respond to questions in writing.
Ms N Magadla (ANC, KwaZulu Natal) asked whose duty it was to capacitate the MAFISA projects.
Ms Magadla asked why there were no jobs created through CASP in Kwazulu Natal. Farmers there apparently had complained about the effectiveness of CASP.
Mr G Mokgoro (ANC,
The Chairperson agreed but noted that the practicalities of time placed this constraint at this meeting.
Mr D Worth (DA,
Mr M Makhubela (COPE,
Mr Makhubela asked what criteria were used for the division of funds. It was indicated that this was done in accordance with the size of province, but he questioned what would be the situation if a bigger province had more projects than a smaller one.
Mr Makhubela noted that last year
Mr Makhubela asked for further clarity on the figures given for
Mr Mokgoro commented that little information had been given on the MAFISA projects. He asked if business plans were drawn, and noted that if so, then the expenditure would have to follow the business plans.
Mr Mokgoro commented that the terminology in the presentation on Ilima/Letsema was confusing. He asked if the money was assigned to projects, and they were left to spend that money as they chose, or whether there was ongoing monitoring. He also asked if there was training and skills transfer to ensure that tasks could be implemented, and the funds could be spent. He asked if there was any assessment done of the financial management skills of those assisted. He also asked what crops were being planted, if there was necessary equipment provided for ploughing, and if irrigation was used or whether farmers simply waited for rain, in which case this would pose the risk of projects collapsing in times of drought.
Mr Mokgoro asked if there were still agricultural colleges in
The Chairperson asked what the timeframe was for the institutions with which agreements had been terminated, to return the funds as requested.
The Chairperson asked for an update regarding an irrigation matter in the
The Chairperson concluded that the Committee would need to meet with the Department again. The Committee was not happy with the monitoring of projects by the DAFF, and commented that it wanted to see more improvements during oversight visits. The Department was asked to respond to the questions by 25 November.
Department of Water Affairs presentations on Green Drop and Blue Drop reports
Mr Leonardo Manus, Director: Water Services Regulation, Department of Water Affairs, noted that the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) had introduced an alternative regulation approach for both drinking water and waste water, in order to improve the quality of water services. These were the world-renowned Blue Drop (drinking water management) and Green Drop (waste water management) Certification Programme. They formed part of an incentive-based regulation approach. They were introduced in 2008 when it was decided that a paradigm shift was necessary in the Department because previous regulations had yielded limited success. Traditionally, regulations until then had covered only compliance monitoring and enforcement, in line with international standards, but it was decided that the particular challenges in
Targeted risk-based regulation had also been introduced, to ensure that risks in the quality of drinking water were reduced, and that this was monitored in an ongoing process. The Department aimed for excellence as an accepted norm. The Blue Drop status could only be achieved once excellent quality had been achieved. This would ensure sustainable improvement in waste-water and drinking water management. Public confidence in drinking water would also be improved with access to credible information. The Blue Drop certification would be given only to drinking water management systems that achieved a score of 95% in the categories of Drinking Water Quality (DWQ) Compliance, Water Safety Planning, DWQ Monitoring Programme, Asset Management, Process Control Skills, Analysis Credibility, Submission of Results and Publication of Performance. All DWQ information was available on the Blue Drop website, and this was also accessible by cell phone.
For the 2011 Blue Drop report, 914 water supply systems were assessed, in comparison with 787 in 2010, and 402 in 2009. The number of Blue Drop certified systems had increased from 25 in 2009 to 66 in 2011. The national (weighted average) Blue Drop score had increased from 51.4% in 2009 to 72.9% in 2011, indicating that the regulation programme was stimulating progress. The compliance records of drinking water quality had also improved.
Water Safety Planning was a new concept introduced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure that all possible risks were managed to ensure the continued supply of safe drinking water.
The National Blue Drop comparative analysis showed that
In closing, Mr Manus presented the top ten performing municipalities for both Blue Drop and Green Drop, (see attached presentation) and noted that, despite challenges, the Department wished to remain focussed on the excellent progress.
Mr Worth thanked the Department of Water Affairs and asked if the Waste Management Act, which had recently been passed, would be of help in this process.
Mr Manus answered that the Waste Management Act dealt with solid waste. The Green Drop programme dealt with liquid sewerage waste, so this did not apply.
Mr Makhubela commented that there had been complaints about water quality in Hartebees, and asked how this area had been rated.
Mr Manus responded that the 2011 Blue Drop Report would give the exact rating for Hartebees. However, he was aware that it had not scored well and there were major problems that needed to be improved.
Mr Makhubela asked how often the water at different systems was tested.
Mr Manus answered that Blue Drop certification was awarded for two years, but was checked annually. Quality reports had to be submitted monthly, through selected laboratories. That information was available to all people in
Mr Mokgoro asked what the reasons could be that prevented some municipalities not reaching Blue Drop status, and what were the reasons, asking if this related mostly to lack of equipment, inadequate skills or negligence.
Mr Manus answered that some systems missed out on getting a Blue Drop award not necessarily because of the quality of their water, but because of inadequate management systems.
Mr Mokgoro asked what consumers could do to protect themselves and their families when they were not sure of the water quality.
Mr Manus answered that the trouble was that drinking water could look perfectly clean but not be. The Department had to stay abreast of the information supplied by laboratories. Should quality be breached, the Department would issue notices to residences that they should boil their water. Boiling water before drinking could ensure that families and communities were safeguarded.
Mr Mokgoro asked how the Department engaged with municipalities that had not yet reached Blue Drop status.
This question was not answered.
The meeting was adjourned.
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