Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries on the United Nations Special Rapportuers Country Mission

NCOP Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy

06 August 2012
Chairperson: Ms A Qikani
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Meeting Summary

The delegates from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries briefed the Select Committee on the United Nations Special Rapporteurs report on the implementation of the right to food. The delegates discussed the progress of the Department and the role of extension officers in helping farmers with their produce. The issues on the right to food were emphasised as well as the Presidential led initiative Masibambisane. The importance of the role of extension officers was discussed, and new implementations were put in place in order to professionalize extension officers. Firstly all extension officers needed to be in possession of a bachelors degree before hey are offered a position as an officer, secondly there were training policies put in place to help the officers attain the certain skills required to be efficient. However Members were dissatisfied with the presentation, as there were inadequate documents and information to support their presentation. Many questions were asked on the legitimacy of the policy document by the department of Agriculture, as it was not an official document but rather a draft. Members concluded that the Department should revise its presentation with substantial proof of what it was saying, as well as amendments to the documents provided.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson made apologies on behalf of the absent Members. She introduced herself and asked Members to do the same. Thereafter, she briefed Members of the Committee the agenda for the meeting, and formally introduced the delegates from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

UN Special Rapporteur Report

Mr Mokutule Joe Kgobokoe, Director: Sector Education and Training Directorate. Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present the report and introduced his co partner Mr Steve Mohlabi, Director: Subsistence Farming in Zero Hunger Programme, DAFF, as the presenter for the reports.

Mr Mohlabi gave an introduction to the UN Special Rapporteur Report (UNSR). He stated the mandate was to promote the right to food as well as everyone’s access to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, which underpinned the work of the Special Rapporteur

The key objectives of the mission were to understand the co-operation and country’s frameworks in realising the right to food for all South Africans, in particular national policies and programmes implemented by the government to facilitate the availability of access to food. Secondly to engage Governmental officials in all spheres of government and other relevant stakeholders in order to learn from South Africa’s efforts at addressing the food insecurity challenges.


The UNSR also raised questions as to why South Africa did not elevate the Integrated Food Security Strategy’s mandate to the level of legislation and what where the respective roles of the spheres of Government in the implementation of the Food Security frameworks.

The role of emerging farmers in the agricultural sector and the issue of post-settlement support was also emphasised in the report. The lack of access to markets by the emerging farmers was viewed as an inherent challenge that the agricultural sector was faced with.


Mr Mohlabi also said the following responses were given to the questions asked.
The National government was responsible for Policy and Legislation development- it facilitated its implementation through the Provinces and conducted Monitoring and Evaluation. The Zero Hunger Programme was an attempt by Government to create exclusive and protected markets for the emerging agricultural sector; this would primarily support the land reform beneficiaries and also assist in the development of the shorter food value chain.

The Chairperson asked Members if they had any questions regarding the presentation before Mr Molabi proceeded to the next presentation

Mr G Mokgoro (ANC) suggested that all the documents be presented first.


At the start of the second presentation on “National Progress Report on Zero hunger” The Chairperson noticed that there were incomplete documents and asked Members to ask questions for the first presentation until the second document was sorted out.

Discussion
Mr Mokgoro asked to what extent the Department had operated efficiently, because in his view food and security issues had not been addressed. He also questioned why there was not an official policy. He said there had not been any post settlement assistance, which showed the Department had been doing nothing for the past 19 years and they must see to it that the nation has food.

Mr O De Beer (Cope) had enquiries on the report, as it did not have an explanation on future planning on the issue of the market. He also questioned why there was no official policy document, and was curious to know how the Department operated.

Mr Kgobokoe responded that there was a draft policy in place but Cabinet had not yet approved it. On the post settlement issue, the CASP system (Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme) that targeted beneficiaries of land reforms with a budget of 1.2 billion Rand per annum, it had 6 pillars targeting smallholder farmers.  On an annual basis certain amounts were allocated to provinces and provinces allocate the funds further to farmers through the CASP programme, this was how they were supported. Thirdly the extension and advisory section had a service plan, which advised farmers on how to plan properly and support them. There were also programmes, focused on training

Mr Mokgoro expressed dissatisfaction with the report as progress had not been made and the expectations had not been met. He spoke of scenarios where there was no water supply as well, and asked that the existence of extension officers be proved. He also complained that the Department of Agriculture and Land affairs had never been a solution to communities but rather they have been a problem to the community.

Mr M Makhubela (DA) asked if the Rapporteur received the draft policy.

Mr D Worth (DA) firstly apologised for his late arrival. He then questioned how extension officers had been of service when they did not have the qualifications. He asked how this works and if the situation had changed.

The Chairperson questioned the legitimacy of the draft because the document had not been approved. She also supported Mr Worth’s question on the unqualified extension officers and asked how the procedures were carried out.

Mr Makhubela requested that the truth of the situation be obtained from the Minister, as the information presented was incoherent.

Mr De Beer pointed out grammatical errors on page 6 of the report

The Chairperson said the President could see the failures of the Department hence why the President had implemented the Presidential led programme Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative.

 

Mr Mokgoro angrily said the President himself had no trust in the Department if he himself had to intervene

Mr Kgobokoe explained that the Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative was a presidential lead initiative to strengthen public private partnership in rural areas. The Presidency lead project, which was led by former President Mandela, was a similar approach as this was the only way the private sector could be involved in developing projects. He also explained that Mr Mokgoro’s complaints of water supply were not the responsibility of the DAFF. Concerning extension officers, he said a lot had been done to improve this situation and more officers were recruited. Furthermore, the DAFF had implemented policies stating that one could not be an extension officer if one did not have an undergraduate degree. There was also training taking place to professionalise these officers.

The Chairperson announced that the updated document on the National Progress Report had been brought into the meeting and could be presented

National Progress report on Zero Hunger
Mr Mohlabi briefly scanned through the report explaining that the Zero Hunger model was simply to demonstrate how high food prices could be addressed spatially, demonstrated the business models required for the successful implementation of Zero Hunger and demonstrated comprehensive farmer support through institutional arrangements for training of farmers e.g. agricultural colleges. He also explained the role of CASP and discussed the sister partners of the Zero hunger programme, such as the Department of Health, Department of Higher Education etc. Lastly the Zero Huger Programme was in support of the Presidential initiative- Masibambisane.

 

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked the Department for the presentation and asked Members for further questions

Mr Makhubela pointed out errors on page 12 of the report.

Mr Worth asked for the list of the provinces listed in the report.

The Chairperson said she was dissatisfied with the presentation as the report was inadequate.

Mr Mohalbi said he believed the agenda of the meeting was to reflect on key issues that had taken place in the past few months.

Mr Mokgorobo angrily announced that the terminology used was incoherent. He suggested that the name of the report be change to “Hunger Reduction Programme” rather than Zero hunger, as hunger problems were inevitable

The Chairperson said no more questions could be asked as the report was faulty and for future references the right documents should be brought. The Chairperson also asked for the list of the provinces

The delegates from the DAFF explained that they did not have the list of the projects because they understood that the meeting was simply a briefing on the report

The Chairperson said the Committee must receive the list of projects.

The Department however asked for more time to come up with the list of names

The Chairperson thanked Members for their contribution

The meeting was adjourned.

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