Meeting SummaryThe Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries presented its strategic Plan 2012/13-2016/17 to the Portfolio Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs, describing the aims of each of the six programmes. The Department aimed to increase access to financial services by smallholder and subsistence producers through a comprehensive funding facility and deployment of members to commodity groups and district municipalities. The key output for these programmes would be access to the MAFISA fund, the comprehensive agriculture support programme (CASP), support through Ilima/Letsema, and efficient stakeholder service delivery. The Department would continue with implementation of plant and animal production strategies, react to outbreaks of disease and pests, and facilitate access to diverse indigenous genetic resources for increased agricultural production. In the area of food security, it was intended to improve support mechanisms for food production, coordinate support and draft legislation and policies. The programme on economic trade hoped to enhance intra-Africa and international trade in agriculture and forestry products. Programme 5 would coordinate climate change plans, facilitate implementation of the Forestry Sector Charter and create 12 000 jobs through refurbishment of plantations. Fisheries Management would enforce policies on certain species, but empower more small producers. Challenges in the Department were described as lack of guaranteed markets, anticompetitive behavior, and the relatively small contribution of black cattle farmers to the meat industry. The question of tractors was an ongoing concern and the Department would be seeking support from the Committee for its request for funding for 3 000 tractors. The Department was doing better in addressing the challenges and the Competition Commission was addressing anti-competitive behaviour.
Members asked for more information on work with municipalities, the youth strategies, and questioned some of the targets, including those in agro-processing, irrigation schemes, use of land in Northern Cape, and fish farming. Members wondered why other countries in a similar stage of development appeared to be successful in helping smallholder farmers, and why South Africa was not able to follow the examples of China and India, and, in a question linked to this, why it was not using these international partnerships to actively open up more markets. Members wanted more substantiation on the challenges of helping poor farmers, assistance to those affected by floods in 2010, what was being done to address the points raised by the Auditor-General, and creation of jobs, given the decrease in the economic development budget. They also asked if agricultural colleges would be able to achieve better transformation in the sector, enquired about fencing projects, internal vacancy filling, use of external consultants, and the fisheries sector activities. They noted the inadequate extension services, raised concerns about aquaculture figures, and about the continuing problem of stock theft in the rural areas, as well as noting the unhappiness of people on the ground about the contribution of this department. Written responses were requested to the questions.
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Strategic Plan 2012/13-2016/17
Mr Langa Zita, Director General, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, presented the Strategic Plan for the period 2012/13-2016/17.Mr Zita outlined the strategy of his Department (the Department or DAFF) under each of the programmes, and described the key priorities of each programme.
Under Programme 1: Administration, Mr Zita noted that the Department would increase access to financial services by smallholder and subsistence producers through comprehensive funding facility and deployment of members to commodity groups and district municipalities. The key output for these programmes would be access to the MAFISA fund, the comprehensive agriculture support programme (CASP), support through Ilima/Letsema, and efficient stakeholder service delivery.
Programme 2: Agriculture, Production, Health and Food Security, concentrated on implementing plant and animal production strategies to increase production, improve early detections and reaction time to outbreaks of animal and plant diseases and pests, and facilitate access to diverse indigenous genetic resources for increased agricultural production.
Programme 3: Food Security and Agrarian Reform programme strategic interventions were summarised as drafting a Food Security Bill to improve support mechanisms for food production by subsistence and smallholder producers, coordinating comprehensive support to smallholder producers and improving livelihoods of vulnerable groups. Most of this would be done by creation of policies within the Department.
Programme 4: Economic Development, Trade and Marketing aimed to ensure the development and implementation of sector charters and strategies, facilitate the enhancement of intra-Africa and international trade in agriculture and forestry products, and ensure the coordination and implementation of signed agreements and development of new agreements. The budget figures for this programme were also presented (see attached presentation for details).
The strategic interventions of Programme 5: Forestry and Natural Resource Management were given as coordinating the development, implementation and monitoring of climate change adaptation plans, facilitating the implementation of the Forestry Sector Charter, and facilitating the creation of 12 000 jobs through refurbishment of category B and C plantations. The budget figures were outlined.
Mr Zita noted that under Programme 6: Fisheries Management, the Department would coordinate and improve enforcement efforts on hake, abalone, squid, West Coast lobster and line fish. It intended to broaden access to the industry through empowerment of small producers, improving competitiveness and investment in fisheries infrastructure.
Challenges faced by the Department included lack of guaranteed markets and anticompetitive behaviour. It was noted that although 40% of cattle farmers were black, only 5% of them contributed to the meat industry. Another issue was that the DAFF needed to provide 3 000 tractors to smallholder farmers, and thus requested the Committee’s support when requesting funds from National Treasury. Mr Zita, however, noted that the Department was better able to address the challenges. He also noted that the Competition Commission was doing work on anti-competitive behaviour in the sector.
Mr Zita then stated that South Africa, as the leading economy in Africa, would take the lead in mobilising other African countries to combat animal diseases. He also said irrigation infrastructure would be revitalized, since there were a lot of irrigation schemes in former homelands but the whole infrastructure needed overhauling.
Ms N Magadla (ANC, KwaZulu Natal) asked why the Department was not working with municipalities. She wanted clarity on the Department’s youth employment strategy. She also wanted to hear of the target for the jobs in agro-processing. She wondered why only two irrigation schemes had been revitalised.
Mr J Gunda (ID, Northern Cape) wanted to know why there was massive unused land in the Northern Cape close to Upington. He asked why some plans appeared to achieve success in some parts of the country, but were failing in other provinces. He questioned why only R74.1 million budget was allocated for the whole Country in rural development, and asked for a substantiation of what the real challenges were in helping poor farmers, asking why it was apparently not implementing plans of helping smallholder farmers. He said that smallholder farmers in India and China appeared to be successful, that South Africa was part of BRICS yet did not appear to be able to achieve the same.
Mr Gunda also questioned what the Department raised a question about farmers affected by the floods in 2010, he wanted what the Department was doing to help people affected.
Mr D Worth (DA, Free State) wanted to know why the Department had only three new fish farms under the fisheries management when, in the Medium Term budget, ten new farms were mentioned.
Ms B Mabe (ANC, Gauteng) wanted to know about internal audit processes and risk assessment plans to improve performance, to answer problems highlighted by the Auditor General. She also noted the budget shortfall and asked how the Department planned to raise funding for its programmes.
Mr O De Beer (COPE, Western Cape) asked whether Agricultural Colleges could transform the sector from its predominantly white male-dominated status.
Mr de Beer also asked about the budget escalation in drill and fit boreholes and the Lesotho fencing project. He noted the Department’s mandate to create jobs and wondered why its allocation for economic development was decreasing.
Mr De Beer asked about the vacancy rate, and enquired whether the Department would outsource the function of recruiting these candidates. He questioned the use of external consultants instead of internalising such functions.
Mr De Beer wanted to know why factories were closing in the Fisheries Management sector, what was being done about businesses being liquidated. He questioned the Minister’s statement said the fishing sector was the most transformed sector.
Mr G Mokgoro (ANC, Northern Cape) asked whether the Director General went into the field or relied on feedback from Managers. He questioned whether the good aims set out in the presentation could be achieved in practice. He noted the inadequate extension services, and questioned why there did not seem to be “young stars” in the Department.
Mr Mokgoro, referring to earlier comments on BRICS, wondered why the Department had not created more markets through this cooperation, and why no guaranteed markets yet existed.
Mr Mokgoro raised concerns about aquaculture figures, and asked whether there were plans to inform the figures, and, if so, the status of the plan and where the projections might be put into practice. He also enquired if there were plans informing the figure of 145 000 jobs to be created through agro-processing.
Mr Mokgoro also noted that there was a continuing problem of stock theft in the rural areas, as well as break-through of fencing by animals, because of poor quality of that fencing.
The Chairperson wanted to know the Department was doing follow up on its programmes, and said that the situation on the ground was desperate in some areas. She noted that people in a community in Umzimkhulu area were complaining about CASP implementation and felt that there was lack of action by the Department. She noted the specific reference to the Masibambisane project.
The Chairperson noted that there were time constraints and asked that further questions be submitted by Members before Friday. She also requested written responses from the Department.
Mr Zita noted that he could give quick answers to some of the questions. In respect of tractors, he noted that the tractors for the Masibambisane project came from DAFF. The Department was engaging with National Treasury to acquire 3 000 tractors, but this would be an expensive exercise. In regard to fencing, he said that a state company should ideally attend to this, because of the high cost. In answer to concerns from people on the ground, he noted that DAFF was mobilising entities to work together through the Zero Hunger Campaign. A full list of programmes and areas would be made available to the Committee before the end of the day.
The Chairperson emphasised the need for monitoring programmes by the Department.
The meeting was adjourned.
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