The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) presented its 3rd Quarter 2012/13 performance report to the Committee. The six programmes of the Department, and their main aims, were summarised. The spending was listed, and it was noted that in this quarter there had been 25.5% spending overall. The report also provided information on the five areas that would be prioritised during the financial year. These included creating employment by increasing the number of participants in the agriculture sectors, an improvement in food security through coordinating production systems, improving income of farm workers, foresters and fishers, the enhancement of exports, and ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources. Three of the programmes had either spent 25% or slightly over but the Trade Promotion and Market Access had spent only 12.4% of the budget, Forestry had spent only 17.1% of the allocated budget and Fisheries was at 35.8% of the allocated budget for the quarter. There was almost full spending as budgeted on goods and services and compensation of employees, but interest and rent on land managed amounted to only 9.2%. There was 27% spending in the quarter on transfers and subsidies, and 19.2% on capital assets. By the end of the third quarter, 76% of the total yearly budget had been spent. Some of the challenges included the need still to strengthen inter- Departmental cooperation and collaboration, develop infrastructure and other supporting policies and programmes. The Food Security Production Intervention needed more work, with a target of an additional one million hectares for production. Improved cooperation was needed with the provinces and local government, to enhance governance in the sector, and collaboration with stakeholders should be accelerated through the forums.
Members were quite critical of a number of aspects of the presentation, saying that more documentary evidence should have been produced, and saying also that a number of areas raised in earlier meetings had not been covered. In answer to many of the questions, the DAFF officials promised further reports. Members asked why the mechanisation queries raised in a previous meeting had not been addressed and suggested that DAFF must immediately deploy an official to go to the areas highlighted by Members and sort the problems out to ensure that trucks and tractors reached the intended beneficiaries. They asked for details on the suspension of the former Director-General, the names of the universities with whom there was collaboration, how research was chosen. They called for details of beneficiaries under programmes, a full report on the failures of some beneficiary programmes, and details of its collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry. Members also called for lists of who, within the DAFF, was responsible for which commodities and an explanation of the audit structures. Details were also sought on new beneficiaries under some of the Programme 2 initiatives. They were concerned that Zero Hunger was no longer being run as a programme and questioned what had happened to the allocation to it, what had been done to assist cooperatives, job opportunities and the apparent contradictions with claims of lack of budget, and underspending, in the Forestry Programmes. Here, it appeared that there were difficulties between the DAFF and Departments of Water and Environmental Affairs and Members suggested that a meeting should be held with all. Members were also critical of rising vacancy rates. They wanted reports on fisheries, the vessels and the transfer of the fisheries function, whether DAFF was holding proper consultations with all small scale fishers, and enquired how much arable land there was according to the recent land audits. They questioned if DAFF was taking food security seriously enough and encouraged it to take active steps to assist more rural areas. Disability targets, and youth employment were also raised. Other questions for which written responses were required related to the drought plans, and relief, clarity between the functions of DAFF and dti, finalisation of the website, and more concentration on issues of conservation. A full debate was needed on the correlation between environmental preservation and developmental needs of the country. The Chairperson asked what was done with alien plants as he had heard that they could be an important source of alternative energy.
The Committee then turned to the issue of nominations for replacements of three members on the board of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). Most of the members would be continuing to serve out their terms and the legislation allowed for them to serve a second term. Members had previously debated, and now reiterated, that their role simply to make a recommendation without having background on, or having interviewed candidates, was not particularly meaningful and perhaps a more decisive role was needed. They recommended that the 13 serving members be reappointed, said that institutional memory and continuity were important, and that they would need to look to the skills of nominees.
The Fertiliser and Feeds Bill had been tabled and the DAFF had previously given a presentation, but the Content Advisor and Parliamentary Researcher also highlighted a number of aspects of the Bill. Of significant concern was the consultation process that the DAFF had embarked upon, as it was suspected that this took the form of requesting answers to a questionnaire, and one workshop, but the Committee was aware of a number of sectors that were not consulted, and also noted that those making submissions to the Committee came from the wealthier farming communities, as probably they were the only ones with knowledge of the Bill. Several Members commented, during the discussion, that it was probably likely to actively harm the poor. Other aspects that needed substantial re-working or clarification were isolated, and these included the question of the tagging as a section 75 Bill, the lack of clarity on the qualifications of the person to occupy the Registrar’s Office, the possible conflict of functions between the Registrar, Board and Minister, the substantial powers that the Registrar would have in relation to the Board. Other issues were the lack of clarity on the definitions and the exact distinctions between functions. The application procedures for registration of feed additives were unclear. It was also not clear who could be a commercial, and who a home mixer, and what the requirements were. The identification of inspectors was also a point needing more clarity. Of serious concern also was the whole question of whether the Bill would be enforceable, given the DAFF’s current capacity, and whether the DAFF had really costed it properly, as Members and the Content Advisor commented that a substantial bureaucratic structure was being created, and it was doubtful how this would function. Whilst Members would take submissions on the Bill, they would also bear in mind the comments raised here, and the possible lack of full consultation with all stakeholders.
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 3rd quarter performance
Mr Sipho Ntombela, Acting Director General, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, began by introducing Dr N Motete. He apologised for the absence of Dr Sizwe Mkhize, Deputy Director General, who was accompanying the Minister to an event.
Mr Ntombela tabled a report on the 3rd quarter organisational performance of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF or the Department). He informed the Committee that DAFF’s goals included increasing the profitable production of food, fibre and timber products by all categories of producers, sustained management of natural resources, and effective national regulatory services and risk management systems.
He reminded the Committee that DAFF contributed to three of the 12 policy outcomes of government; namely outcome 4, which dealt with employment and economic growth, outcome 7 which dealt with food security for all through rural development and community contributions, and outcome 10 which focused on environmental matters.
Mr Ntombela indicated that the main focus of attention in the report was on the achievements of the Department. The report also provided information on the five areas that would be prioritised during the financial year. These included creating employment by increasing the number of participants in the agriculture sectors, an improvement in food security through coordinating production systems, improving income of farm workers, foresters and fishers, the enhancement of exports, and ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources.
Mr Ntombela noted the purpose of Programme 1: Administration, which was to provide strategic leadership, management and support services to the Department in order to have people who would lead and promote agricultural, forestry and fisheries resources management, and thus enhance sustainable use and achieve food security and economic growth. Programme 2: Agriculture Production, Health and Food Safety, was intended to manage the risks associated with plant pests, animal diseases and genetically modified organisms. Registration of products used in agriculture, the promotion of food safety and sustainable agricultural production was included.
Programme 2 comprised of three sub-programmes. Plant Production and Health focused on increased and sustainable agricultural productivity, and managed risks associated with pests, diseases and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Animal Production and Health focused on improving livestock production and developing sound animal disease risk management principles. Inspection and Laboratory Services focused on compliance with agricultural legislation and regulatory frameworks through the provision of leadership, guidance and support.
Mr Ntombela moved on to Programme 3: Food Security and Agrarian Reform. This programme was to facilitate and promote food security and agrarian reform initiatives. Its three sub-programmes included Food Security, Sector Capacity and National Extension Support Services. The Food Security sub-programme provided national frameworks to promote sustainable household food security programmes. This was to be achieved by improving the production systems of subsistence and smallholder farmers. The Sector Capacity sub-programme facilitated the development of training and education at centres that specialised in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The National Extension Support Services sub-programme provided national extension policies, norms and standards on research and technology development.
Programme 4: Economic Development, Trade and Marketing, aimed to ensure integration of the value chain integration and to promote economic growth, job creation and development. It had three sub-programmes of
International Relations, Trade Cooperatives and Rural Enterprise Development, and Agro-processing and Marketing. The last would ensure that primary agriculture, forestry and fisheries products were turned into value-added products suitable for export.
Mr Ntombela described Programme 5: Forestry and Natural Resource Management, which aimed to develop and implement policies that would ensure the management of forests, the sustainable use and protection of land and water, and the management of agricultural risks and disasters. Its three sub-programmes were Forestry Operations, which ensured that sustainable management of national forests was implemented, Forestry Development, which focused on the development of arboriculture, commercial, small-scale and urban forestry, and Natural Resources Management, which facilitated climate change mitigation and adaptation, risk and disaster management and also promoted and regulated the sustainable use of natural resources.
Programme 6: Fisheries Management, aimed to manage and promote sustainable use of South Africa’s marine life and the development of the fisheries sectors. It had four sub-programmes of Aquaculture and Economic Development, Fisheries Research and Development, Marine Resource Management as well as Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of marine life.
Mr Jacob Hlatshwayo, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, presented the expenditure of the Department in the 3rd quarter (see attached presentation for full details). For Programme 1. a total of R626.9 million was allocated to it, and 25% of this was spent during the third quarter. Programme 2 managed to spend 27.2% of the total budget of R1.8 billion. Programme 3 had spent 28.7% of the R1.4 million budget allocated to it. For Programme 4 (Trade Promotion and Market Access), the allocated budget was R209.4 million and in this quarter it had spent only 12.4%, whilst Programme 5:Forestry, spent 17.1% of its R1.24 billion budget and Programme 6: Fisheries spent 36.8% of its R489.1 million budget. In total, the Department had spent 25.5% of the annual budget in this quarter.
Mr Hlatshwayo went on to present information on the Department’s expenditure per economic classification (see attached presentation for full details.) Compensation of Employees spent 24%, Goods and services spent 22.4%, but interest and rent on land managed only a spending of 9.2%. There was 27% compliance with payment of transfers and subsidies, and 19.2% expenditure on the capital assets budget. There were no payments for financial assets, but this was not budgeted for either.
This spending meant that by the end of the third quarter, 76% of the total yearly budget had been spent .
Mr Ntombela concluded the Department’s presentation by stating that there was a need to strengthen inter-Departmental cooperation and collaboration, for the development of infrastructure and other supporting policies and programmes. He also informed the Committee that there was a need to facilitate the implementation of the Food Security Production Intervention, with a target of an additional one million hectares for production. In addition, Mr Ntombela stated that there was also a need for improved cooperation with the provinces and local government, to enhance governance in the sector. Finally, the Department would like to accelerate collaboration with stakeholders through existing forums.
Mr S Abram (ANC) thanked Mr Ntombela for his presentation but criticised the way it was presented, saying that it left him with more questions than answers and he would like to have documentary evidence to support the figures in report.
Mr Ntombela said that his team would answer as many questions as possible. He noted that the reports were produced according to a pre-determined format and this sometimes caused difficulties in the way that the report document was produced.
Mr Hlatshwayo informed the Committee that each municipality sent detailed information on the various projects that were running in the area and that this detailed information would be available to the Committee that Friday.
Mr Abram asked why points that were raised during the meeting on mechanisation seemed not to have been met or addressed in the presentation.
Mr Ntombela answered that the presentation had noted that not all provinces were present during the earlier meetings and so it was decided that a report would be written for each province, which would be verified during a workshop or meeting. The Committee could then arrange for a meeting at a later time at which each province could make a presentation.
Mr Abram also informed the Committee and the delegation from the Department that he had recently visited the show grounds. Equipment on display and exposed included 24 tractors that were meant for distribution, and some of the batteries had apparently already been stolen because of inadequate security. The trucks that should be sent to the beneficiaries seemed not to be getting delivered, and were instead either being used by the municipality, or left lying around. He demanded accountability and a full report on what was happening in the provinces.
Mr Ntombela informed the Committee that more information would be made available on what was happening during a meeting to be held in April.
Mr Abram raised a point of order. He wanted to suggest that Mr Ntombela must immediately dispatch an official to look at the problem and ask questions about why the tractors had been sitting there since October. After that investigation on the ground, DAFF should then write a report and ensure that the tractors were distributed as soon as possible.
Mr Ntombela told the Committee that he appreciates the red flags that were being raised and assured them that there would be follow ups on the points raised. He told them that Dr Mkhize may have been able to, perhaps, give a more immediate answer, but unfortunately he was absent from the meeting.
Mr Abram wanted to get full information on the suspension of the former Director General, to ensure that unfair dismissal did not happen, and the terms of any settlement.
Mr Ntombela informed the Committee that he was not free to respond to some of the questions because the former DG was suspended by the Minister, not the Department, but the Minister may be able to provide these answers. In relation to financial settlements, there was usually a set formula that was used by all Departments and it was likely that it was the same one was used by DAFF.
Mr Abram requested that the Department provide the Committee with the names of the four universities with whom it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Agriculture Research Council (ARC) research projects, and which projects would be conducted at each of the universities.
Ms Mimi Molotsi, Director: Strategic Planning, DAFF, replied that three universities – Fort Hare (UFH), Limpopo (Turfloop) and KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) – were commissioned. The universities of Venda (UV) and Walter Sisulu (WSU) had not signed the MOUs. Rhodes (RU) and Free State (UFS) universities were not interested in the initiative.
Ms A Steyn (DA) shared Mr Abram’s concerns, but added that she also wanted to know who had asked for the research and who decided on the topics, and whether it was linked to any programmes being run by the Department.
Ms Molotsi replied that the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) was commissioned to conduct research on the targeted programmes that the Department intended to deliver. One of those was climate change and agro-processing, and a report had been submitted in February. There were reports already on genetic resources; plant production and health, land use and soil management, food and security and climate change. The reports were in various stages, and some were completed. A detailed report would be provided to the Committee on Friday.
Ms Molotsi replied the research committee determined the agenda in terms of what were the priorities to be delivered.
Mr Abram called for a report on how a beneficiary was defined under the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP), Mafisa and Ilima Letsema. He also wanted information on where the beneficiaries were, when they received the equipment provided by the Department, and dates when all of this took place. He asked the Department to assure the Committee that the beneficiaries were real, and no fraudulent activity was happening. He stressed that the Committee had a right to know how much money was spent, where, how and on whom, so full information and documents were needed to support this.
Mr Ntombela said that a full report and list of the beneficiaries could be made available to the Committee by Friday 15 March 2013.
Ms Steyn wanted to know if programmes such as Mafisa and llima communicate with each other and exchange information. She also thought that there should be separate indicators and figures on what each of these programmes had achieved.
In general, in relation to the various figures and results throughout the report, Ms Steyn pointed out that some showed results per province, but others stated nothing about a province. She wondered if this meant that no reports were given about these provinces. In addition, she wanted to know what kind of information the Department had when it came to drawing up these results, whether it received documents or itself went to ground level to check on the figures and get results.
Mr Abram requested the Department to provide information on whether or not it was working in collaboration with the dti on the issue of tariffs.
Mr Ntombela said that AgriBEE lay between the dti and DAFF. Dti held the legislative framework mandate, and approved or disapproved the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Charters of different Departments or sectors that would have been presented to them. However, the implementation of AgriBEE was in the hands of DAFF, once the policy had been approved by dti.
Mr Hlatshwayo said that only ten applications from AgriBEE initiatives were received. Only one of those applications actually qualified and so, the Department would be concentrating on that one.
Ms Steyn asked for more information on the roles of the Auditor-General and internal auditors in the DAFF itself, and how each helped the Department.
Ms Zanele Mkhize Keto, Deputy Director, DAFF, replied that internal auditors reported on the immediate operations of an organisation, like the internal controls. They would report to the audit committee and the board throughout the year. External auditors dealt with issues retrospectively, and looked at what had happened over the whole financial year.
Ms Steyn wanted to know which officials were responsible for which commodities within the Department, and requested a list showing this.
Mr Ntombela responded that a list of the senior managers for each group could be made available to the Committee.
Ms Steyn also asked for more information on the milk producing schemes, under Programme 2, saying there was a concern about where they were recorded, because they no longer fell under one umbrella, which was causing problems. She also requested more detail on the 865 new producers that were mentioned in the report, with their identity and provinces.
Ms Steyn pointed out that the report had mentioned that the Zero Hunger programme was now just a slogan rather than an actual programme. She also wanted to find out if the Masibambisane programme was still active and whether it was operating in all provinces.
Mr B Bhanga (COPE) asked what had happened to the R70 million that was set aside for the programme, if it no longer existed.
Mr Hlatshwayo informed the Committee that there was never a budget allocation of R70 million in the first place, but instead the Department was going to use money available from elsewhere and use it for the project.
Ms Steyn then wanted to find out about the cooperatives in Programme 4, as she had been told that nothing had been done to assist cooperatives other than meeting with them, and how the DAFF could assist them to market and become more successful.
Ms Steyn thought, under Programme 5, that the Department should be looking after the land, not creating jobs. She asked why the DAFF was mentioning fences erected, instead of focusing on more important things. She also wanted information on areas that had been developed and rehabilitated, because that was, in her view, the main focus of the Department.
Mr Ntombela noted that the DAFF was obliged to put up infrastructure relating to agriculture, such as the fencing mentioned in the report, to ensure that matters were developed.
Ms Steyn added that the reforestation goal was low. The budget had not been spent, but the report claimed that there was not sufficient money, which seemed a contradiction.
Ms Sebueng Chipeta, Chief Director Forest Development and Regulation, Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, replied that the figure of 10 000 mentioned in the report was taken from the Forestry Charter. Forestry had identified forestation as a stream-flow reduction activity under Chapter 4 of the Water Act. This deliverable was dependant on the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) issuing certificates for water use, but also on the Department of Environmental Affair (DEA) approving the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). It was a problem to get the licences quickly. DAFF had indeed indicated budgetary constraints, because the progress in this area depended on getting consultants to do EIAs. There also was a challenge with the actual planting of trees, because the industry and small scale producers had to actually do the planting whilst DAFF would merely facilitate. In order to streamline the work of getting the EIAs, DAFF was putting a task team in place to fast track this aspect. There was also preparation of a Memorandum of Understanding between the concerned departments of DAFF, DWA and DEA.
Mr Bhanga said that he was sure that the 11% increase in vacancy rate indicated lack of progress. He asked how the Department intended to deal with this. He believed the DAFF should be promoting internal staff, instead of using “acting” staff.
Ms M Pilusa-Mosoane (ANC) also expressed her concern about the Department’s lack of progress with filling of vacancies, and questioned what it was doing about this.
Ms Bafedile Bopape, Acting Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, DAFF, replied that for five years the Department had not been able to reduce the vacancy rate. The rate varied around 11.3% to 14.8%. The top management cast the Department in a bad light because if a vacancy opened in the management structure, that affected all other levels. Another aspect that also impacted on the vacancy rate was internal promotions and this perpetuated the vacancy rate. Four chief directors were promoted from within, in the third quarter.
Mr Bhanga then wanted to find out if there had been any progress with regards to the issue of fishing rights holders.
Ms R Nyalungu (ANC) informed the Department that stakeholders of fisheries had regular meetings in the Western Cape, but asked if the same was happening in other provinces around the country, particularly since it would be impossible for them to travel to Cape Town or Pretoria for meetings. She then expressed concern about how poor fishers were being pushed out of business because the legislation was making it too difficult for them to obtain fishing rights. She asked what exactly the DAFF was doing to assist poor fishers and give them the opportunity to succeed.
Ms Nyalungu asked the Department on clarification whether the Agulhas Municipality owned the hatchery project on behalf of a community, and who the beneficiaries of the projects are.
Ms Greta Apelgren-Narkedien, Deputy Director: Fisheries, DAFF, began by addressing the problem of right holders violation. She informed the Committee that there was a backlog in the investigation, but much had since been cleared. A detailed report could be made available to the Committee for the cases that were dealt with by the Department, however, when it came to the more serious violations, the DAFF would have to wait until the NPA ha conducted investigations.
Ms Apelgren-Narkadien also told the Committee that a lot of the large fishing companies, as well as small fisheries, were situated in the Western Cape and that DAFF held a number of meetings with them. An Aquaculture Farming Association existed to assist both large and small fisher-members, and through this body the fishers inland would be represented at the meetings.
On the issue of the allocation of fishing rights, Ms Apelgren-Narkadien informed the Committee that in June 2012, a policy that allowed for small scale fishers was put in the amendments to the Marine Living Resources Act, and its passing was awaited. She hoped that the DAFF would be able to give rights to the small scale farmers by the end of 2013.
Mr Bhanga questioned if the DAFF had been looking into the revitalising of five agricultural farms and whether there were any that were currently operational.
With regards to the revitalisation of aquaculture fish farming projects, Ms Apelgren-Narkadien informed the Committee that as far as she knew, all five of the projects were at various stages of being revitalised and established. She could make available a report on each of the five projects and the progress made thus far.
Ms Pilusa-Mosoane noted progress with regards to livestock schemes, but wanted to find out if the Department would also be doing anything about introducing poultry and other commodities.
Ms Pilusa-Mosoane called for details of where the 865 new producers participating under Programme 2 were located, and the provinces. She asked why the DAFF seemed to be focusing on the Northern Cape and the Western Cape as beneficiaries of CASP and Ilima/Letsema, and whether or not other provinces would be targeted in the future.
Mr Hlatshwayo informed the Committee that the Presidency was currently conducting research on the impact of CASP, and the results would be provided to the Committee. On the Mafisa Project, DAFF had stated that it would be conducting its own research and would inform the Committee of the results.
Ms Chipeta said that DAFF was undertaking consultations and a CASP memorandum had been presented at the economic cluster, and would soon be tabled at the ministerial committee. In the next Committee meeting, the Minister should be able to present the CASP memo for commissioning in the lowveld exiting areas.
Ms R Nyalungu (ANC) agreed with Mr Abrams’ concerns on farming equipment that was yet to be distributed. She would like a list of the provinces that had received, but not distributed equipment. In the Northern Cape, there was a warehouse where tractors were lying around and not being used.
Ms Nyalungu called for a written report on the failed projects during the Land-Care programme. She questioned how 20 or more people could be given one farm and be expected to succeed.
Ms Chipeta said DAFF had noted the issue around providing lists of failed projects in land-care. A detailed report would be given that contained information on beneficiaries, projects and their location, amounts and spending. Issues had been raised around land-care in Qamata and a programme had been developed to try and address degradation in that area.
Ms Nyalungu also wanted further clarification on Prince Edward Island, which had been declared a protected area and was now to be limited to research and conservation.
Ms Apelgren-Narkadien told the Committee that, because it was something that had been done by the Department of Environmental Affairs, there was not much DAFF could do about it. However, it was concerned that some of the areas that had been reserved and protected were areas that had been used by small scale fishers for many years and so discussions were needed on this point.
Ms Phaliso then informed the Department that the Department of Environmental Affairs was not usually very forthcoming when asked whether or not it had transferred marine related issues to DAFF. She suggested a meeting together with the Department of Environmental Affairs, so that each could define and clarify their roles on these issues.
Mr Bhanga also mentioned that many of the penguins on Prince Edward Island were endangered and they should be protected and conserved. He also suggested that patrolling of the area should be limited to only one vessel, that was focused on research.
Ms N Phaliso (ANC) stated that food security part of every South African’s constitutional rights, but wondered if DAFF was taking this seriously enough. Like other Members, she asked what had happened to the funding for the Zero Hunger programme. She also questioned how the Public-Private Partnership for food security, nutrition and health project was being funded, and where the project had been implemented.
Mr Ntombela suggested that perhaps a dedicated meeting was needed for the DAFF to report on the achievements in regard to food security. He informed the Committee that despite the fact that there was enough food to feed the whole country, there were still families that went to bed hungry and so, there should be a policy that would address these issues.
Ms Phaliso stressed that the DAFF must do more to assist poor farmers in places such as Mpumalanga, where they would not get assistance with municipal tractors if they did not have the money to buy diesel for the tractors.
Ms N Twala (ANC) noted that DAFF stated that it aimed to create jobs. However, most of those mentioned in the report were only temporary jobs.
Ms Sebueng Chipeta, Chief Director Forest Development and Regulation, Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries said that DAFF had begun reporting the number of jobs it created to the Department of Public Works (DPW). DAFF hoped it would receive money from DPW, but also the Department was engaging services of an implementing agency that would fast track creation of jobs. It had been able to create a number of decent employment opportunities, because there were many areas in forestry, although they were seasonal. Areas of work included doing firebreaks, harvesting and pruning, but all of these were short term jobs.
Ms Twala wanted clarity on the cooperatives and where the 8 000 farmers were farming.
The Chairperson noted that he had recently attended a meeting with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, who were involved in a number of programmes, and asked if there was cooperation between CSIR and DAFF.
The Chairperson noted that the DAFF was apparently meeting the 2% disability targets, but wanted more information. He believed that certain jobs could well be reserved for disabled people.
Mr Hlatshwayo replied under the United Nations each country had to submit a report on people with disabilities. Such a report had been compiled in line with standard questions that were asked, relating to how departments incorporated people with disabilities in its programmes. DAFF worked towards that and was in the process of establishing a strategy for the inclusion of people with disabilities.
The Chairperson stated that it was important to train young farmers, as the active farming sector seemed to be ageing. He asked DAFF to develop specific youth training programmes.
Mr Hlatshwayo replied that women were prioritised. Female entrepreneur awards were more than an event. This was an annual competition where women were publicly acknowledged and recognised. Winners, entrants and the intended beneficiaries were looked after well by the Department.
Mr Hlatshwayo replied that DAFF also had training programmes, done in consultation with the three Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). DAFF had a responsibility towards the three SETAs, and had to collaborate with them on the training they offered. The Department had entered into service level agreements with the three SETAs. These, among others, included reporting on their business plans, so that DAFF could then approve these plans. DAFF would soon be publishing an annual report on all the training conducted by line-function SETAs.
Mr Hlatshwayo noted also that DAFF was now comfortable with the turn of events at Fort Cox. There were 12 colleges of agriculture in the country and Fort Cox was one of them, although semi-autonomous. This college was governed differently, by a decree that was promulgated during the era of the Ciskei government. That should be repealed and a new governance model for the college would be developed, and there was ongoing engagement with the MEC for Agriculture in Eastern Cape in this regard.
The Chairperson noted that a number of irrigation schemes needed to be repaired, and the last time he checked up on this he was told that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) was going to assist. He wanted a progress report. In addition, he noted that DRDLR had recently done a land audit and asked how much land had been identified as arable.
Ms Chipeta replied a land audit had been conducted by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDL) to determine how much land was arable. The Department was beginning to overlay the map to try and identify high potential agricultural land. The latest figures of audited land were 14 million hectares but the figure had not been verified.
Mr Hlatshwayo commented on the progress in regard to a ginnery. The Makhatini Project was supposed to be liquidated, but the Department decided to save the ginnery. However, the ginnery was in a bad state and so the Department had now allocated security personnel to look after it and to erect a fence around it. The ginnery would also benefit the farmers around the area, and so about R20 million has been allocated to revitalise it.
Follow up questions to be answered in writing:
The Chairperson proposed that Members posed questions that would be replied to in writing.
Ms Steyn commented nothing was said about drought in the country, this also needed to be viewed in line with the issue of the Northern Cape of underpayment for the flood relief. The Committee needed an update on what was happening and what was being done on drought. Last year the Committee was promised a strategy on how drought would be handled.
Ms Steyn commented there was a need for clarity on the relationship between the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and DAFF, as to who administered what functions. She cited the recent issue of the meat scandal. The issue on responsibilities between the two departments had to be clarified.
Ms Steyn said the finalisation of the departmental website was outstanding. The website was under construction and information was difficult to access. The website could not forever be under construction.
Ms Phaliso commented there should be clear strategic objectives indicating targets, objectives, actual achievements and corrective measures at DAFF. She said the comment on people with disabilities was unsatisfactory. There had to be targets on delivery. She proposed a meeting with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) where a report on fisheries and the conserved areas would be presented.
She said there was a need for a historical background on the matter. It was important to conserve, but not at the expense of the poor people. It should be clarified whether communities where conservation was happening were consulted on the matter.
Ms Pilusa-Mosoane commented the information on vessels was still lacking and the Committee needed a detailed explanation on the vessels. She also sought clarity on the three awareness campaigns conducted on rabies meat safety.
Mr A Cele (ANC) wanted to know why Limpopo never responded to calls from the Department. He said a continuous claim had been that funds allocated were not accessible, and were being transferred. He also wanted to know how long it took transfer funds from NT.
Mr Bhanga commented that the Department needed to provide a detailed programme to promote aqua culture in Port Elizabeth (PE) and the surroundings. He also wanted more information on what was regarded as a marine protected area, and why should such protected areas exist.
Mr Bhanga commented that there was a need to debate more correlation between environmental preservation and developmental needs of the country. Such a debate would address aspects of how people lived with the environment. A workshop was needed on this aspect; all South Africans had moved into becoming conscious about the environment now, and the country was ready to debate the issue.
Mr L Gaehler (UDM) said the Department needed to indicate the kind of support given to smallholder fishermen in the Wild Coast (the shoreline from East London to Port St John’s). He called for information on what programmes there were, and how many people were assisted, alternatively what plan was there to assist those people. He said there also was a need for information on irrigation schemes in rural areas.
The Chairperson sought clarity on the programme for alien plants. He said he had come across private entrepreneurs who did not want any kind of assistance from DAFF, but a permission to harvest them, because they were interested in generating energy from these species. He wondered, therefore, if the DAFF was doing anything with plants that it removed, commenting that it would be strange if they were simply destroyed if they had other uses.
The Chairperson asked about the resources map of agriculture and fisheries and forestry. It was important for the Committee to get a sense of the country’s mapping of resources.
The Chairperson said getting the three functions of the Department into forming one Ministry had been a challenge since 2009. He asked until when duplication of functions would continue to be a challenge, and what plans there were to deal with the anomalies in the meantime.
The Chairperson asked that the written replies be forwarded within two weeks.
Agricultural Research Council (ARC) Board nominations
Ms Nokuzola Ngxashe, Content Advisor, Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, said three members had resigned from the ARC Board. The process of nominating was similar to the previous one, but the Minister had indicated most Members were serving their term out. The nominations were meant to replace those Board members who had resigned.
Legislation allowed ARC Board members to serve a second term. It was indicated that all 13 members who were still with the Board could be reappointed. Nominations were published in the Government Gazette and had been referred to the Committee. The Committee could nominate all of the members, there were no restrictions.
Requirements for members of the board included that they be experts in the field, with no criminal record. They needed to provide updated CVs and certified ID copies. The Committee could then inform those it would recommend on the basis that they had met the requirements.
The Chairperson went through the list of those Board members that were still serving, as follows:
Mr A Godden (chairperson); Prof S Nkomo; Ms AD Aphane; Mr M Dyasi; Mr D Young; Ms D Msomi , Mr H McBain; Ms W Jansen Van Rijssen; Dr J Chitja; Prof T Mayekiso; Prof T Mofokeng; Prof F Swanepoel; and Prof J Khan.
The Chairperson said the Committee had a deadline of the 20 March to make recommendations. The Committee’s role was limited, in that it could only recommend. The issues related to the need for the Committee to play an additional role in the process had been raised before. Increased involvement in the appointment process would allow Members to get to know the people serving in the Board, as the current situation where Members only became involved at the stage of recommending was a limitation. The Review of ARC legislation had been raised, and it was promised a while back.
Mr S Abram (ANC) commented that when making a recommendation, issues like the background of a person were important, yet this could only be known if the Committee could interview the candidates. He said he was aware of the resources challenge of getting people to Parliament, and the possibility that they might not make it.
He suggested the Committee move for the current Board members to be retained, especially since there had never been an indication of incapability. Institutional memory and continuity was important. With the three vacancies, the Committee only needed to look at people who were experts in the field.
Mr Bhanga concurred and advised that when researchers briefed the Committee in the future, they should look into the performance of the entities as well. The qualitative input of people working in boards should be a measure upon which they were appointed.
Fertiliser and Feeds Bill (FFB) presentation
Ms Mgxashe said the following day there would be public hearings on the Fertiliser and Feeds Bill (FFB). The Department had briefed the Committee on the Bill, but a follow up briefing was necessitated by the fact that some Members missed that briefing. The current briefing therefore would highlight some of the issues that were not raised by the Department.
She said the State Law Advisors informed the Committee that there were no legal issues on the Bill, except with tagging. There was a submission that the Bill should not have been tagged as a Section 75, but rather as a section 76 Bill. This was the only issue raised, but had since been resolved.
She said one stakeholder had raised an issue that might have constitutional implications, but the Committee would be briefed on the issue.
Ms Mgxashe summarised that the objectives of the Bill were:
-to provide for the licensing of facilities and rendering plants,
-to provide for the registration of feed additives, raw materials, animal by products, imported fertilisers, feeds or pet foods and home mixers,
-to provide for the appointment of a Registrar to administer the Act,
-to provide for the establishment of the Technical Standards Advisory Council,
-to provide for the designation of technical advisers, analysts and auditors,
-to provide for the regulation of the import, export, acquisition, disposal, sale or use of fertilisers and feeds,
-to repeal certain laws relating to fertilisers, feeds and sterilising plants,
Ms Mgxashe said the summary covered six chapters of the Bill that had not been adequately explained.
Mr Nhlanhla Ginindza, Researcher, Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, said the Definitions Chapter contained a number of words that needed to be clearly defined and differentiated in how they were used. The words included vertebrate and molluscs animals; an auditor and an inspector; animal and speciality pets; feed and speciality food; home mixer and manufacturer; and permit conditions. There was confusion in the Bill over how some of these were used.
Ms Mgxashe said Chapter 2 dealt with the establishment of the Technical Standards Council. The submissions raised the issue of the Registrar being appointed by the Minister, and subsequently appointed Chairperson for the Council. This created confusion and blurred the functions of the Council, especially since it was meant to, among others, advise the Registrar. The 21 member Council was bloated so that it was difficult to get a sense of who did what. The issue of roles was not clarified in the Bill.
Ms N Twala (ANC) commented the Bill was also silent on the kind of qualifications required for the person occupying the office of Registrar. It merely said the person was appointed by the Minister, but there was no indication of how that appointment was made.
Mr Bhanga commented that the Technical Advisory Standards Committee dealt with issues of advising the Registrar on technical aspects of implementing legislation. The position required a person with skills who could provide guidance on knowledge development and implementation of legislation. This needed to be spelt out in the Bill.
Ms Mgxashe said the qualifications were not listed in the Bill, and this would cause confusion as to who would be “appropriately qualified”. She said there could be a conflict and since qualifications were prescribed for the technical advisor, then there seemed no reason why this should not also be done for the Registrar. The Registrar/Chairperson had substantial powers and could overrule the Council.
Ms Mgxashe said there were also challenges with the application procedures for registration of feed additives, raw materials, animal by-products, imported fee, fertilisers, pet food and home mixers. There had been too much focus on animal science, and very little on fertilisers. Most of the Bill was related to science and agronomy. She said the meetings of the 21 member Council – four times a year – appeared too few, especially since it would look at two line-function departments.
Ms Mgxashe commented that Chapter 3 highlighted registration and licensing periods, exemptions and grounds for refusal. There was contradiction around the exemption of home mixers, and that determination was not included. The Bill was not clear on this aspect, but there were cases where small scale farmers would be exempted. However, she questioned how the Department would ensure that small scale farmers did not sell the produce if they registered a surplus. The Bill did not differentiate home mixers.
Mr Abrahams asked if some aspects of the Bill were enforceable, especially with regards to mixing own fertiliser.
Mr Mgxashe replied capacity was a challenge through the entire Bill. There were so many things that needed to be done, and yet the capacity was simply not there. She explained that home mixers operated on different scales, and the Bill did not differentiate. This meant it was expensive for anyone to be a home mixer and people would eventually have to buy feed.
Other issues that posed a challenge included suitable equipment requirements for places where the feed was manufactured. The Bill did not differentiate between a manufacturer and a home mixer.
She said one of the issues that had been covered in submissions was the creation of a database of home mixers by the Registrar. She said she doubted the feasibility of this, and whether there was an existing databases. The Department should indicate how it would take the process forward. Before a home mixer was registered, the Registrar had to send someone to inspect the facility. Two inspectors, in the meantime, had to be dispensed for feeds and fertilisers and she questioned whether this would be feasible.
Ms Mgxashe said she would be interested to know the number of applications that the Department received and the time it took to process those. There were a lot of other issues that were linked to inspections and auditing. The financial liability was also of concern, as the Registrar could require a lot of scientific testing, and the Bill it was not clear who would bear the costs.
Ms Mgxashe said Chapter 6 dealt with general provisions. This dealt with the delegation and appointment of technical advisors and analysts to assist the Registrar in administering the Act. The Bill provided details on powers to enter, inspect, search, and seize. It was, however, silent on the safety of inspectors. There also had to be awareness on the kind of identification inspectors wore when visiting people’s properties.
She said if extension officers were allocated to specific districts they were likely to be visiting farms regularly and unannounced. An inspector sitting in Pretoria would have to make an appointment and would need to clearly identify himself. It was high likely that farmers would be uneasy with such person inspecting their properties.
Page 19 of the Bill stipulated that an inspector or auditor should, immediately upon entering any property, and in accordance with Section 5 of the Bill, audibly identify him or herself, produce an ID card and demand admission to the premises. If entrance was refused, it was an offence according to the Bill. After the brief introduction a person had to let the inspector in. She asked whose would be liable if the person was not an inspector.
The Chapter also dealt with confidentiality issues and said that only the Registrar was supposed to know that information. It was not clear how delegation of authority might work, but also not clear as to how inspectors contravening the confidentiality clause would be dealt with. There were questions on how people would be prevented from divulging confidential information to third parties, and how such a person would be punished given that he or she was not an employee of the Department, but a delegated official.
Mr Ginindza said that, according to the Bill, a rendering plant and fisheries establishment was the same. There needed to be something that covered inland fisheries, as this was not in the Bill. The fisheries branch at the Department was working on guidelines to regulate fish processing establishment. There was a need to clarify what would become of inland aqua culture. The Bill was silent on suppliers of ingredients from unsustainable practices.
DAFF should consider introducing some standards on how much the feed could contribute towards pollution, and ensure that these standards were monitored and controlled. In aquaculture, the unused feed remained in the dam. This was one area that had to be covered. Seeds should be covered in the Bill. The aquaculture industry was not consulted during the public participation process, so that if this Bill was passed it would be without an input from the industry itself.
Ms Mgxashe said the whole consultation process on which the Department embarked when drafting the Bill, and the inclusiveness of that process, were questionable. It was not clear how consultation was done. It seemed that DAFF sent stakeholders a questionnaire, with a draft of the Bill, and held one workshop in Pretoria. Quite a number of stakeholders were not, however, consulted, particularly the poultry industry and the citrus growers association.
The Chairperson said the session was important as it had clarified a range of issues in the Bill. He said the tagging of the Bill as a section 75 bill was key. The Committee had questioned the financial implications of the implementation of the legislation. There was not really a good response to this as the DAFF did not appear to be particularly concerned on the issue.
Mr Abram commented that the Department had made a mistake in saying the financial implication was about R2.5 million. This was not correct. Implementation for this Bill, as it stood, would be considerably more, as a whole new bureaucracy was envisaged, that would not come cheap. The provisions for this in the Bill were cumbersome.
He added that the whole system would be an administrative burden for the poor, as they had to go and apply for exemption. People would have to buy additives and mixers. People in rural areas were not geared for this. He said also that it was likely that input would only have been received from commercial farmers, who were more likely to read the Gazette and newspapers, and that he had no doubt that the poorer farmers would not be in support of this Bill as it would pose many problems for them.
He said he was interested in how the Department implemented the current Act. He reiterated that he did not believe the figures put up and said the Department should be honest. This could not be administered with this kind of resources. DAFF needed to be honest and he pointed out that it now had an expert body to assess this. A lot more officials would be required to carry out implementation the Bill. The Department should be upfront, and should tell the Committee exactly what the Bill would cost.
Mr Abrahams said the Committee should pronounce on whether there had been sufficient consultation with the rural poor people, and quoted the Dalai Lama, who had said that “our prime purpose in this life is to help others; if one could not help at least do not hurt them”. This Bill, in his opinion, would indeed hurt the poor.
Ms Twala concurred that the Bill appeared flawed, and asked what the implications of that were.
Ms Steyn suggested that further discussions on this be curtailed until after the hearings. She said it appeared the Department was taking a short cut by trying to fix the Act. The Committee should accept the submissions, but also take note of the fact that most would not come from the small scale farmers.
Mr L Gaehler (UDM) commented that if the Bill went through as it was, it would harm rural people and would result in anger. He agreed that it was unlikely that the poor people would make submissions.
Ms Pilusa-Mosoane agreed and said the majority of the people would feel the brunt of the Bill. She said it was really too early to have public hearings; this was a short cut and would have left people behind.
The Chairperson said Members had been empowered in their approach, and although the Committee would certainly hear the industry, it would also note how limited and poor the consultation had been.
The meeting was adjourned.
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