Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 3rd quarter performance

Committee: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)

Date of Meeting: 28 Feb 2012

Summary

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) presented the 2011/12 Third quarter expenditure and performance report  to the Committee. The key areas of focus were to reduce the cost of basic foodstuffs, as well as the cost of living, to create employment and increase the number of participants in the DAFF sectors through support for smallholders and processors, improving the income and conditions of farm workers, foresters and fishers and lastly, to enhance use of natural resources. In each of these categories, the Department highlighted its successes and challenges.
The Department officials acknowledged continuing challenges in sustainability of funded projects, disease outbreaks, escalating operational costs of marine research and patrol vessels, but said that there were plans to address them. Notable successes included the jobs created through various projects. 279 of the Department’s own employees were trained. Over R11.4 million was distributed through MAFISA loans, and there had been 2 983 jobs created through the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme, over 200 through land care programmes and 1 107 through the Fisheries Programme . Farmers were trained in marketing skills. 23 cooperatives were established. Over 10 000 smallholder producers were supported for food production, and almost 3 500 received various types of training, broken down by province, whilst the three Sector Education and Training Authorities provided training to another 1 025. Household gardens were set up and starter packs and seeds were distributed. One Agripark was launched in Gauteng and 49 boreholes were drilled. All Departmental planning focused on the Zero Hunger Campaign. The numbers of inspections and licences were outlined, and the results of surveys into animal health and disease were also set out. Special attention was paid in this quarter to Forestry and Natural Resources Management, with creation of 269 jobs in wattle jungle conversion, and planting and distribution of trees and rehabilitation of land. Successes in Fisheries Management were also outlined, including the creation of Working for Fisheries programme, and a report on development of the Small Scale Fisheries Policy had been submitted to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). Spending by the end of the quarter was at 70.1%.

Members asked why the Marine Coastal management was focusing on Western Cape and why the harbours were preferring this province as well. They noted that small-boat fishermen were assigned to non-productive areas and questioned fronting. They queried the appointment process and the number of vacancies in the Department, and noted that several targets seemed to overlap across departments. They were concerned about disease outbreaks, calling for more details, and disaster relief payments reaching intended beneficiaries. Although the training of 148 extension officers was welcomed, they said that the number must increase, and noted concerns about the underspending. Further questions on beneficiaries of the MAFISA funding, allocation of tractors, the position of boreholes and creation of more jobs, particularly through removal of alien plants, were to be answered in writing.

 


Minutes

Chairperson’s Opening Remarks
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson. He noted that the previous meeting had been postponed because the Minister and Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF or the Department) had not been available, and noted also that documents were delivered late to Members.

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 3rd Quarter Performance Report
Mr Langa Zita, Director General, DAFF, tabled and took Members through the 3rd Quarter Organisational and Performance Report. He noted that the key areas of focus were to reduce the cost of basic foodstuffs, as well as the cost of living, to create employment and increase the number of participants in the DAFF sectors through support for smallholders and processors, to improve the income and conditions of farm workers, foresters and fishers, and to enhance use of natural resources. There had been successes across all programmes.

Mr Jacob Hlatshwayo, Chief Financial Officer, DAFF went through the programmes. Under Programme 1: Administration he noted that the Employee Performance Management and Development System was successfully rolled-out and a total of 279 employees were trained. Of these, 103 were trained on short courses and 176 on accredited courses. 533 employees participated in screening tests, including HIV. R11 480 186 worth of MAFISA loans had been disbursed to 876 clients during this period. There was creation of 2 138 temporary and 845 permanent jobs, resulting in a total of 2 983 jobs, through the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP).

In respect of the programme dealing with economic development, trade and marketing, Mr Hlatshwayo noted that a concept document was approved for the establishment and institutionalization of Grain Value Chains networks. 92 farmers were trained in marketing skills, and 23 co-operatives had been established in various provinces, as part of implementing the India, Brazil and South Africa(IBSA) agreement. The DAFF participated in the IBSA Summit (18 October 2011), Joint Working Committee (12-13 October 2011) and Foot and Mouth disease Workshop (23-25 November 2011). There had been a programme of action developed for Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS), during the working Ministerial meeting on Agriculture and Agrarian Development in China on 28 October 2011.

Mr Zita described actions taken under the programme for Food Security and Agrarian Reform. 10 199  smallholder producers were identified for support with a breakdown, by province, in Free State (131), Limpopo (6 318), KZN (82), Mpumalanga (1 816), Western Cape (229), Gauteng (53) North West (857), Eastern Cape (614) and Northern Cape (99). 3 402 producers received training in various programmes including production of beef, goat, sheep, pig, vegetable and poultry, as well as training on animal health and management of piggeries. The distribution of trainees by provinces was: Eastern Cape (1200), Western Cape (280), North West (90), Limpopo (100), Gauteng (42), Free State (150), KwaZulu Natal (800), Northern Cape (320) and Mpumalanga (120), whilst there were also 300 trained from the Red Meat Abattoirs Association. In this sector there were three line-function Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs): namely the AgriSETA, Fibre Processing & Manufacturing (FP&M) SETA & FoodBev SETA, who provided training to 1 025 beneficiaries.

Mr Zita then dealt with the establishment of food gardens under this programme, noting that 5 409 household gardens (5 110 in Gauteng, 226 in Limpopo and 73 in North West), 39 community gardens (20 in Gauteng and 19 in Limpopo) and 58 institutional gardens (23 in Gauteng and 35 in Limpopo) were established. 30 902 starter packs were distributed (8 500 each in Western Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal, with 5 110 in Gauteng and 292 in North West). 53 families received free seeds packs in North West and one Food Park had been established in Seshego (Limpopo). One Agripark was launched in Gauteng. 49 boreholes were drilled during the quarter. There had been training of 148 Extension Officers in Extension Suite Online, and 818 extension officers were registered for qualification upgrading. There had been development of the draft Food Security Policy, and consultations had taken place at different places, Submissions had been made for presentation to the Intergovernmental Ministerial Committee. All Departmental planning had a focus on implementation of the Zero Hunger Campaign.

Mr Zita then described the actions taken under the programme for Agriculture, Production, Health, Food and Safety. The DAFF had conducted 43 899 inspections at the ports of entry, 20 746 Identification marks were registered, 12 export facilities were audited, 397 new Food Business Operator Codes were allocated, and 273 187 export/VI1 documents/certificates were issued. There had also been the issuing of 10 776 veterinary import permits during the period October to December 2011. 97 Reproduction Operators were registered. Mr Zita noted that the outbreak of avian flu was still a problem, and
35 366 birds had been slaughtered for disease control purposes, with their owners being paid a total of R47 million. A nationwide survey into Contagious Equine Metritis indicated that a total of 19 stallions were affected. They were put under quarantine and treated. A notice amending the export standards and requirements for canned fruit was published in the Government Gazette on 23 December 2011. There had been issue of 280 418 temporary import permits for animals for purposes of  feedlot/ slaughter/pasture/resale/shows, and 422 permanent import permits were issued. 747 agro-chemicals were processed and registered, and these were divided into 23 stock remedies, 85 Agric remedies, 142 fertilizers, 116 Pest Control Operators, 262 farm feeds, 19 advertisements, 51 import permits and 42 free sale certificates, with 7 pack sizes. Ten new taxa were declared as plants and amended regulations for plant breeder’s rights were published in the Government Gazette of 18 November 2011. 31 certificates were issued under the Plant Breeders Rights Act within agreed standards, whilst 47 import and 34 export permits of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were  also issued.

Mr Zita noted that in this period, special attention was given to Forestry and Natural Resources management. He noted the statistics for creation of 269 jobs in this quarter, through wattle jungle conversion (of which 104 were in Eastern Cape, 14 in Limpopo and Mpumalanga plantations, 101 were in Western Cape and 50 in KwaZulu Natal). This totaled 1 209 wattle jungle conversion jobs  created from the beginning of the financial year. 345 jobs were created on other forestry operations, and 1 329 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs were created through LandCare. 11 593 trees were planted (600 in Eastern Cape, 6 050 in Western Cape, and 4 943 in North West), while  4 499 trees were distributed, to Limpopo and Mpumalanga (2 399), and Western Cape (2 100). In all, 695 761 trees had been planted since the beginning of the financial year. Almost 101 hectares of indigenous forests and woodlands were rehabilitated, 3 704 ha were rehabilitated through enforcement of the Communal Land Rights Act (CLARA)and 1 085 hectares through Land Care projects. 183 forestry growers were supported in terms of training, licenses, funding, technical assistance and environmental impact assessments, and 8 000 seedlings were supplied to growers in the Limpopo/Mpumalanga regions.

Mr Zita then moved on to describe successes in Fisheries Management. He noted that the Marine Fish Farmers Association has been established and approved by the Minister. A Fishermen’s Heritage project had been established to develop a fish processing plant in Kleinmond, where recruitment of beneficiaries, clearing of the site and training were continuing. Two new fish processing projects had been initiated  in Port Nolloth and Elandsbaai. Eight Working For Fisheries Programmes (WFFP) were fully operational, with another two having concluded their planning and moved to recruitment of beneficiary stage. Six further projects were being planned. 1 017 jobs and 82 644 total person days of work were created through Working for Fisheries Programme along the Eastern Cape Coastline, Western Cape & Northern Cape coastline, Kwazulu Natal coastline, and at fishing harbours. These jobs were found in monitoring of Fisheries Catch data, maintenance, cleaning, patrol, safety and control in the  fishing harbours. There had been development of processing facilities and deployment of military veterans to enhance the enforcement capacity of DAFF. The consultation process for development of a Small-Scale Fisheries Policy had been completed and a report was submitted to National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC), Approval was granted to appoint a service provider to develop an implementation plan.

Mr Hlatshwayo presented the detailed report on expenditure. He pointed out the instances of over and under spending across the programmes (see attached presentation), and said that by the end of the third quarter the overall expenditure was at 70.1%. He noted that the Programme 2 payments of conditional grants to provinces were paid at 25% of the appropriated amount and Programme 3 payments for conditional grants were paid at 35% of the appropriated amount. In Programme 4 he highlighted a once-off payment to the Land and Agricultural Bank of South Africa (Landbank). He noted that the Programme 5 funds for prevention and mitigation of disaster risks were committed for the latter part of the financial year, after promulgation of the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE).

Mr Zita briefly outlined the continuing challenges as the sustainability of funded projects, the necessity for stakeholder engagements, the control of disease outbreaks, intergovernmental relations and the escalated operational costs of research and patrol vessels, which were compromising sufficient focus on other fisheries responsibilities.

Discussion
Ms M Phaliso (ANC) asked why the Marine Coastal management was not reaching out to other provinces and was focusing mainly on the Western Cape. She enquired why disadvantaged small-boat fisherman tended to be assigned to areas that were not productive. She also questioned fronting where large vessels would conduct joint ventures with small-boat fishermen.

Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries agreed that a number of
Marine Coastal Management functions needed to move to Pretoria and that Western Cape was to be treated as any other province. She acknowledged that there had been reports and instances of fronting and stated that companies who were involved in this would be blacklisted and the DAFF would not deal with them again.

Ms Sue Middleton Acting Deputy Director General: Fisheries Management, DAFF, noted that commercial fishing rights were due to expire in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively. At that stage, the DAFF would review the general fishing policy. Public input was needed and the Department would then be addressing issues of monopoly and fronting. This would be an ideal opportunity to correct some of the wrongs of the past.

Ms A Steyn (DA) raised questions about unfilled vacancies, saying that too often the people who were hired were not sufficiently knowledgeable.

Minister Joemat-Pettersson explained that a number of posts were still awaiting approval from Cabinet and it was not easy to find available Deputy Ministers for panel interviews for certain level  posts. It took about two months to get qualifications of candidates evaluated, and during this period, high calibre candidates would tend to be lost because they had been offered other posts. Although the Department had created quite a number of jobs, the challenge was to sustain them.

Ms Steyn queried the apparent overlapping of targets between the DAFF and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
 

The Minister noted that it was necessary to try to address the duplication of functions, not least because where overlaps existed, each department tried to pass responsibility on to the other.

Ms Steyn raised concerns about quarantine methods used, the spread of foot and mouth disease and the fact that some of the funding did not seem to reach the intended targets.

The Minister noted, in respect of disaster relief funding, that although government was providing relief to farmers affected by disasters, farmers would be encouraged to take out their own insurance, because government could not be responsible for everything.

Mr Mike Modisane, Chief Director: Animal Production, DAFF, noted that the DAFF had managed to contain the foot and mouth outbreak, but there was ongoing testing to ascertain the extent of the outbreak. There were no traces now found of this disease in Kwazulu Natal. The “red line fence” would be moved by 15 km, on the Mozambique border. Surveillance was being carried out in Northern Kwazulu Natal.

Mr L Van Dalen (DA) questioned why the Department wanted eight more harbours, in light of its failure to manage the twelve existing harbours. He asked if the DAFF would consider moving responsibility for these to municipalities or provinces. He commented that there was lack of safety in some harbours.

Ms Middleton noted that there were only twelve proclaimed harbours in the country, and all were in Western Cape. The other eight harbours would benefit the other provinces.

Minister Joemat-Pettersson said that some provincial departments were behaving as if they were dealing with the province alone, without taking national priorities into account. She said that the relationship between the police and navy was important. Monitoring was now done through a satellite.

Mr van Dalen asked about small scale farming.

Ms M Pilusa-Mosoane (ANC) welcomed the training of 148 extension officers, but still felt that this number had to be increased. She was concerned with underspendig in the Department.

Minister Joemat-Pettersson responded by noting that it was halfway through the five-year term and short and long term goals were being prioritised. She noted that there was progress in new legislation, and agreed that some further urgency was needed.

Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) enquired as to the enterprises that had benefited from the Mafisa fund.

Mr Cebekhulu asked for statistics on allocation of tractors to subsistence farmers, and also wanted to know more about boreholes that had been drilled for subsistence farmers.

Mr Mkhululi Mankazana, Deputy Director-General: Food Security and Agrarian Reform, DAFF explained that there were detailed reports available with mapping, details and names.

Mr B Bhanga (COPE) said the Department needed to implement projects with more speed and create more jobs.

Mr Bhanga began to voice unhappiness with an apparently contradictory message that had been conveyed by Mr Pieter Mulder, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Members raised points of order that this had nothing to do with the current presentation.

The Chairperson noted the need for a separate Fisheries branch. He also thought that more attention was needed to removing alien plants that were consuming a lot of water, noting that the DAFF could use volunteers to remove the plants, and they could then be used to produce biomass.

Ms Steyn noted that questions about finance had not been answered, but the Chairperson noted that time constraints prevented further discussion, and asked for answers to be forwarded in writing.

The meeting
was adjourned.