Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries 4th Quarter 2011 Expenditure

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

28 May 2012
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) presented its fourth quarter expenditure and performance report, detailing the activities under each of its six programmes.  During the fourth quarter, DAFF had spent 29% of the annual budget on all programmes, but reported continuing challenges around lack of monitoring tools to measure the sustainability of projects after intervention, and the need still to strengthen systems to verify figures. It was noted that DAFF would conclude an agreement with the South African Revenue Services to install an electronic system to enhance monitoring and evaluation of the impact of projects, and would strengthen monitoring and planning through the Monitoring and Evaluation forum, which comprised national and provincial officials.

Under Programme 1: Administration, three quarterly publications were compiled to assist farmers and investors to plan properly, and integrated planning with the provinces had commenced in January 2012. Six provinces spent their allocations in full, and the Ilima/Letsema programme had created 4 162 jobs, of which 1 896 were permanent, whilst 36 505 beneficiaries were reached through Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programmes and 30 932 households accessed food security programmes. There were now over 3 000 extension officers and R42 million (out of the allocated R50 million) was spent on the agricultural colleges. Programme 2: Economic Development, Trade and Marketing, had signed agreements for the Coordination Centre for Research and Agricultural Development of Southern Africa Charter, the AgriBEE Sector Code was approved, and DAFF had conducted negotiations with Senegal towards a trade agreement, and participated in an IBSA workshop. Other training was conducted.

Programme 3: Food Security and Agrarian Reform had finalised a draft model on mechanization support, whilst training was provide to over 33 000 people. Smallholder farmers needing support were identified in all provinces. Policies for Food Security, the Zero Hunger Strategy, Sexual Harassment and Women’s Empowerment, and Gender had been drawn, and the Agriculture Training Institute Green Paper had been concluded. 2 962 extension offices were trained, and good progress was recorded by colleges. A draft Concept Paper on Agri-villages had been finalised and would be tabled for approval. Under Programme 4: Agriculture Production, Health and Food Safety, DAFF detailed the inspections conducted at ports of entry, the applications for new registrations and surveys on Avian Influenza and Food and Mouth Disease. Implementation plans for the Grain and Fruit Strategy were finalised, and three provinces had commenced with it. The Plant Health Bill was shortly to be processed. Dairy and beef farmers had participated in improvement schemes.

Under Programme 5: Forestry and Natural Resources Management, DAFF reported figures for planting, charcoal production, pest outbreaks and control, fire protection strategies and support to 1 629 small growers through planting of trees and technical advice. The Land Care Programme created 6 524 job opportunities in this quarter, equivalent to 28 full time employment posts. Programme 6: Fisheries Management had attended to a draft National Programme of Action for Sharks, and implemented two aquaculture farm projects and ten Working For Fisheries Programmes (WFFP), creating 1 273 jobs. Research was conducted for inshore fisheries and inspection were conducted.  also conducted.

Members commented that wheat production in the country has dropped, and asked what was to be done to solve that problem. They enquired about assistance to fishing communities at the Wild Coast, asked how DAFF defined subsistence farming, and whether it was possible for a smallholder farmer to progress to commercial farming. They also asked why Gauteng, Limpopo and Eastern Cape had underspent their allocations, wanted to know about the status of forestry research and what DAFF was doing to address the shortage of scientists at the Agricultural Research Council.

Meeting report

Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries 4th Quarter 2011 Performance
Mr Langa Zita, Director-General, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, presented the 4th quarter 2011 performance report to the Committee. He noted that, in this quarter, the Department (or DAFF) had achieved 29% of the annual budget, across all programmes. However, there remained challenges in monitoring, since there were not sufficient tools to measure the sustainability of projects after intervention and systems for proper verification of the figures provided for achievements still needed to be strengthened. He noted that DAFF would conclude an agreement with the South African Revenue Services (SARS) to install an electronic system to enhance monitoring and evaluation of the impact of projects, and would strengthen monitoring and planning through the Monitoring and Evaluation forum which comprised national and provincial planning and monitoring and evaluation officials.

Mr Zita then set out the figures and described the performance for each of the six programmes of the Department.  

Programme 1: Administration
Mr Zita reported that three quarterly publications were compiled to assist farmers and investors to plan properly, and to help DAFF to monitor positive and negative impacts on the health of the sector, to enable it to react accordingly. He noted that in January 2012 DAFF undertook a process to facilitate integrated planning with the provinces, to respond to Presidential outcomes.

In this quarter, R100 million was transferred to provinces for Ilima/Letsema projects. Free State, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape managed full spending of funds made available. Even though the remaining three provinces did not spend in full, the overall performance of the provinces was satisfactory.

4 162 jobs were created through the Ilima/Letsema programme in the fourth quarter. 1 896 jobs were permanent, while the remaining 2 266 were temporary or seasonal. Food security projects undertaken were accessed by 30 932 households and 26 schools and there were 1 197 community gardens. Support took the form of production inputs.

The Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP) projects achieved total spending, across all provinces, of R984.8 million, and 13 014 farmers were reported to have accessed markets. 36 505 beneficiaries had been reached through these programmes, and 391 projects were completed at the end of quarter.

Extension Recovery Plan (ERP) allocations and expenditure during the fourth quarter amounted to R295.39 million. By the end of the fourth quarter, 1 008 extension officers had been recruited in total, since the ERP commenced in the 2008/09 financial year, and there were currently 3 224 extension officers. R42 million of the allocated R50 million had been spent, on the agricultural colleges.

Programme 2: Economic Development, Trade and Marketing
Mr Zita reported that the Coordination Centre for Research and Agricultural Development of Southern Africa Charter was signed, and the first steps for implementation of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme Compact was completed.

The AgriBEE section 9 Sector Code was approved by the Minister of Trade and Industry, and was published as a Notice in the Government Gazette for 60 days in order for the public to comment.

18 small businesses had been supported through the Agribusiness Assessment Tool. 107 participants had been trained on the Train-the-Trainer Programme, whilst 45 cooperatives had been trained on the Farm Together Agricultural Cooperative Programme.

During the fourth quarter, negotiations were conducted with Senegal with a view to concluding a trade Memorandum of Understanding The draft Memorandum of Understanding was currently being certified by the State Law Advisors. DAFF had participated in an IBSA Workshop organised by India to enhance the implementation of the IBSA Agriculture Cooperation Tripartite Agreement. An Agro-processing strategy had been approved by the Departmental Executive Committee. An Export Awareness Workshop was held for 150 farmers, extension officers and traders.

Programme 3: Food Security and Agrarian Reform
Mr Zita noted that a draft policy on the mechanisation support model was developed, and a workshop was held with provinces in March 2012. 33 141 members received 50 different types of training, facilitated by the provinces. Training was provided by the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) – namely AgriSETA, FoodBev SETA, Fibre Processing and Manufacturing SETA - and colleges of agriculture and universities.

The DAFF had identified 9 018 smallholder producers for support in all provinces. The needs analyses had been undertaken and support programmes in and outside the Department would follow.

The Draft Food Security Policy and Draft Zero Hunger Strategy were approved by the Director-Generals’ and Ministers’ Clusters. The Agriculture Training Institute Green Paper had been concluded and was currently with the State Law Advisors.

The Sexual Harassment Policy, Policy Framework on Women Empowerment in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Gender Policy had been finalised and would be tabled at the relevant sub-committee for noting and approval.

2 962 extension officers were trained in crop, livestock and business related areas. 97 of these extension officers were trained in Extension Suite Online, and good progress had been recorded, during this quarter, by Tsolo, Taung and Glen Agriculture Colleges in the implementation of the approved norms and standards.

The Draft Concept Paper on Agri-villages had been finalised and would be tabled for approval for external consultations.

Programme 4: Agriculture Production, Health and Food Safety
Mr Zita noted that under this programme, 153 427 inspections were conducted at all ports of entry. A further 2 386 applications for new registrations, amendments, transfers, agricultural remedies, stock remedies, farm feeds, and fertilizers and pest control operators were finalised.

The 7th round of surveillance inside the Avian Influenza Control Area was completed in mid-December 2011. 14 of the 178 farms that were sampled had no ostriches on the premises. The 8th and final round of surveillance inside the Avian Influenza Controlled Area was concluded at the end of February, when over 180 farms were visited and sampled. A single farm tested positive for H5N2, but, on further investigation, the virus was typed as a low pathogenic A1.

During February 2012, there was limited foot and mouth disease (FMD) surveillance instituted of the impala population along the inside of the South-western boundary, opposite the Sphelenyane/Luphisi cattle outbreak. No clinical cases were found. Mpumalanga province had reported an outbreak of FMD at one dip tank in its controlled area. A number of dip tanks were found to have been affected. Movement control measures were tightened and these dip tanks were put under quarantine.

The implementation plans for the Grain and Fruit Strategy have been finalised. Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Free State Provinces had started with the implementation. The Draft Plant Health Policy was approved by the Minister and was published in the Government Gazette for public comment during April 2012.

The Plant Health Bill had been re-circulated within the National Plant Protection Organisation of South Africa, for final consideration, prior to being processed.

538 dairies participated in the Milk Recording and Improvement Scheme. 38 dairies were from the subsistence sector. 1 376 subsistence beef cattle farmers participated in Kaonafatso di ya Dikgomo Animal Recording and Improvement Scheme.

Programme 5: Forestry and Natural Resources Management
Mr Zita reported that 15 254 trees were planted nationally, whilst DAFF and other stakeholders finalised the business plans for the support of charcoal production at Umzimkhulu in KwaZulu-Natal.

Locust outbreaks were controlled in 20 districts, and he noted that 6 701 hopper bands, 192 adult swarms and 1 071 mixed swarms were controlled by 254 control teams and 29 private teams on 810 farms.

A performance audit for the Greater Witbank Fire Protection Association was conducted. 161 km of road maintenance was done and six bridges that were damaged by floods were fixed and repaired, whilst eight gabions were replaced.

63 jobs were created through outsourcing coppice and harvesting timber activities. In total, support was given to 1 629 small growers during the fourth quarter, through planting of trees and technical advice. Through the Land Care Programme 6 524 job opportunities were created, which was equivalent to 28 full time employment posts.

Programme 6: Fisheries Management
The Draft National Programme of Action for Sharks was submitted for the approval of the Minister before being published in the Government Gazette for public comment.

Two aquaculture farm projects were implemented. A total of ten Working For Fisheries Programmes (WFFP) were implemented during the fourth quarter, whilst 1 273 jobs were created.

Relevant and necessary scientific research had been conducted regarding the inshore fishery sectors. The Revised Framework for Aquaculture Research Management was approved by DEXCO on March 2012.

The inspection of five key fisheries (hake, abalone, squid, line fish and rock lobster) for the number of vessel landings and sea-based vessels, as well as investigations on a number of rights holders, were also conducted.

Discussion
Mr L Van Dalen (DA) remarked that he would like the Committee to be given all the names and contact details for the smallholders created, and he would also like a list of the hectares of land planted. He also wanted access to the DEXCO reports. He wanted to know which department or entity provided the figures to Statistics SA. He also commented that the fishing industry was in dire straits, noting that several fishing vessels were not operative and were stored in Simon’s Town. He also asked for more details on the Land Care jobs created.

Mr Zita explained that 27 000 small producers were supported by DAFF, and another 21 000 were newly identified. A list of their names, contact details and locations was available ,and would be sent to the Committee. He could also send through the DEXCO reports. He noted that DAFF sent through figures, but it was Statistics SA who carried out the verification.

Mr Zita said that he himself could not say much on the fishing vessels, but there were agreements in place with the South African Navy, although he was aware that there had been miscommunication between the entities. Meetings had been held recently, during which areas of common interest were identified, and the fishing sector was advised to engage the Minister concerned.

Mr Zita then explained that in the Land Care Programme it was possible for one person to get more than one job opportunity, because that was the nature of the programme.

Mr L Gaehler (UDM) asked DAFF to provide the Committee with a list of trained extension officers and the areas in which they were trained. He also enquired about the kind of support that was given to smallholder farmers. He asked what was being done to help fishing communities in the Wild Coast area of the Eastern Cape.

Mr Zita said the list of extension officers would be sent to the Committee. Smallholder support took the form of giving technical advice, and there was a move away from individual farming structures to collective farming structures, so that smallholder farmers would share resources. He noted that there ha been discussions with fishing communities in the Wild Coast area to advise them how they could access help from the Department.

Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) enquired if DAFF equated subsistence farming with people farming on communal land. He wanted to know if DAFF was assisting with provision of tractors.

Mr Zita explained that DAFF regarded subsistence farmers as those who farmed mainly for their own consumption, with little or no surplus to sell. There was a fine line between subsistence farmers and smallholder farmers. The main problem encountered by subsistence farmers was that they lacked tools to farm, although they may have a great deal of land. Many of them had already been farmers in the apartheid era.

Ms M Pilusa-Mosoane (ANC) wanted to find out why Gauteng, Limpopo and Eastern Cape spent less from the Division of Revenue funding. She commended the Department for its expenditure, noting that some of the units were spending all of their allocations.

Mr Jacob Hlatshwayo, Chief Financial Officer, DAFF, noted that the three provinces mentioned had failed to spend fully in the first two quarters. The DAFF had made interventions, and this had increased their spending. It had been found that some of the business plans and budget plans were not sustainable, and that was the main reason why they were spending so little.

Mr S Abram (ANC) commented that the production of wheat had dropped in the country, and it had been reported that wheat of poorer quality would be imported from Argentina.

Mr Zita stated that this matter remained a challenge for the Department, although it was not part of this presentation. The DAFF had come up with a strategy to address the wheat problems.

Mr Abram wanted to know about the status of forestry research and asked for comment on the shortage of scientists at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC).

Mr Zita elaborated there were universities with whom DAFF was working, in regard to forestry research. For instance, there was a Memorandum of Understanding between Pretoria University and the Forestry Unit regarding research and development, as well as other entities that were doing research on forestry issues. Mr Zita confirmed that the Agricultural Research Council did not have the capacity to do research, and that meant that farmers were not getting new information. The ARC had essentially fallen into a decline after 1994, and it was necessary to try to bring capacity back to it, so there was a Service Level Agreement with the ARC.

Mr C Msimang (IFP) enquired about the role to be played by the senior managers deployed in municipalities.

Mr Zita responded that the task of the deployed senior managers would be to undertake visits to municipalities, when requested to do so, in order to give advice on agriculture-related matters. The senior managers were not going to be full-time employees of the municipalities. They would also plan with the provinces and do monitoring. A list of their names and contact details would be sent to the Committee.

Mr Msimang asked if DAFF would be doing anything to ensure large local institutions, such as hospitals or boarding schools, would buy from the 14 000 farmers who were assisted with access to markets.

Mr Zita explained that he and other Directors-General in other departments were busy finalising an agreement to ensure that there would be synergy and that it would become easier for those 14 000 farmers to sell their products to local institutions as part of the broadening of market access.

Ms R Nyalungu (ANC) asked if there was any monitoring done to ensure that the tractors already delivered to two provinces were used appropriately.

Mr Zita said that the necessary consultations had been done, and once the information system was in place, DAFF would be able to do monitoring. There was already a tender to get service providers to do the roll-out.

The Chairperson asked about the objective of the Delivery Forums. He asked if it was in fact possible for a farmer to move from being a smallholder farmer to a commercial farmer.

Mr Zita replied that the objective of the Delivery Forums was to create jobs in the commercial sector. It was not easy to answer the question about progression from being a smallholder to a commercial farmer, because it was difficult to define them. Anyone who undertook farming in order to sell was essentially a commercial farmer, even if s/he was running a smallholder operation. However, if the intention was that the farming should produce enough to sell on a large scale, that meant that the farmer was running a serious business operation. He suggested that a short answer to the question was not really possible in this meeting, and would require a separate, and much longer, explanation and demonstration.

The Chairperson asked who was responsible for fencing and its maintenance on the borders.

Mr Zita explained that the Border Control Coordinating Committee (BCCC) was busy with a strategy on how to control the border posts, and the budget was being revised to accommodate present challenges facing border control. Fencing was not within the mandate of any one department. The Department of Public Works was planning to use some of the BCCC budget to finance fencing. The military and the Department of Environmental Affairs did not have ownership of or responsibility for fencing.

The meeting was adjourned.

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