Committee Report on Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Strategic Plan 2013

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

20 May 2013
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered its report on Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Strategic Plan 2013. Members made numerous minor changes to the document and expressed concern that their discussions were not reflected.

The Committee agreed to include the following points to the recommendations.

●The dti had a very big project on Aquaculture. The Department and the dti should collaborate on the issue to avoid duplication.

●The Committee and the Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs should collaborate for the purposes of doing oversight.

●The Department should prioritise the rehabilitation of the SAFCOL forest plantations that had been damaged by floods.

The Department should remove the red tape on application process for aquaculture licences.

The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) should work together because there were many overlapping areas in their line of work and they both represented the same Department.

The Committee agreed to adopt the report at a later date.
 

Meeting report

Committee Agenda
The Chairperson announced that there was only one item on the agenda, it was the consideration and adoption of the Strategic Plan Report 21 May 2013 suggested adoption of the agenda.

Ms M Pilusa –Mosoane (ANC) moved for the adoption and Mr L Gaehler (UDM) seconded the motion. The agenda was adopted without amendments.

Committee Report on Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Strategic Plan 2013
The Chairperson tabled the report for consideration. He indicated that the Committee would go through the document page-by-page and Members could give their input where necessary.

The Chairperson said that the Committee discussions on providing post settlement support for land reform beneficiaries as stipulated by the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) were not reflected in the report; it only showed the Departmental presentation and the recommendations.

Mr Gaehler recommended that the Committee discussions should be reflected in the report.

The Chairperson also raised concerns, about whether funds that were disbursed for programmes had achieved their objectives or not. He added that if one could not measure results one could not see the success of each programme. Those should also be reflected on the final draft.

Ms Albertina Kakaza, Committee Secretary, replied that the report was not supposed to reflect the deliberations because they were included in the minutes of the actual meeting.

Ms Nokuzola Mgxashe, Committee Content Advisor, stated that if Members wanted the deliberations to be reflected in the final draft of the report then it would be done.

Mr S Van Dalen (DA) said that only 50 % of the targets were reached but most of the budget was spent. There was nothing about fishing and there were other things that were not reflected in the report.

The Chairperson suggested that Members should raise issues that they felt should be reflected as the Committee considered the report page by page.

Mr Gaehler reflected on page 3, bullet point 2 and corrected the minor grammatical error.

Mr Van Dalen pointed out a numerical error on page 2, 2.3. It stipulated that 300 000 jobs would be created by Agriculture as identified in the New Growth Path, he thought that it was supposed to create 1 million jobs.

The Chairperson explained that the report reflected exactly what the Department had presented.

The Chairperson referred to paragraph 2.4 on page 3 and said that the third sentence was open ended because it did not state how much agriculture input in the economy had declined.

Ms Mgxashe explained that the statement reflected what was presented by the Department, so there was no need to change it.

Ms Pilusa and Mr Gaehler suggested that the issue should be left as is.

The Chairperson referred to page 5 on paragraph 1, which indicated that a significant portion of the budget was transferred to provinces. He felt that the Committee should improve its working relationship with the Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs and that there were tensions between the provincial departments and the Committee. The Committee had been trying to link up with the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Land, but she was always out doing oversight work in Provinces. The Chairperson suggested that a recommendation should be made that the Committee should structure periodic interactions between the two Committees because the provinces were much closer to the constituencies. He added that the Committee should seek meaningful interaction with the Select Committee on Land on CASP and other conditional grants Like Land Care.

Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) asked whether district municipalities received transfers from the National Department.

Ms Mgxashe replied that the provinces usually sent Directors to districts to help with National Department CASP funded projects.

The Chairperson asked whether the same directors were sent to districts directly from the National Department.

Ms Mgxashe replied in the affirmative.

The Chairperson referred to page and questioned the wisdom of earmarking funds for erecting a fence on the Mozambique and Zimbabwean borders. He said that there were other departments like Home Affairs and Police that should be involved in such initiatives.

Mr Gaehler said that the Department of Public Works was more suited for the job of insuring that border fences were repaired or erected.

Ms Pilusa felt that the amount of R250 million was too much because some other departments could have also budgeted funds for the border fencing.

Mr Gaehler suggested that the Committee should find out about the amount of money that had been budgeted by other departments for the same purpose. His concern was that the tenders for things like erecting fences were vulnerable to corruption due to duplication.

Ms Mgxashe explained that fencing prevented the spread of foot and mouth diseases coming from other countries, as well as preventing stock theft. The Department’s involvement had to be viewed from such concerns.

The Chairperson referred to page and asked whether the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) were regarded as risks.

Ms Mgxashe suggested that the Committee should rather take the matter up with the Portfolio Committee on Health.

The Chairperson indicated that the Chairperson of the Health Portfolio Committee was very eager for the two Committees to discuss the matter

The Chairperson referred to page 8 and asked for clarity on the purpose R54 million allocated for upgrading of buildings and laboratories.

Ms Mgxashe explained that the additional amount was allocated for the upgrade of the Stellenbosch Plant Quarantine Station.

The Chairperson said that there was very little said about the rehabilitation of the harvested  South African Forest Company Limited (SAFCOL) forest plantations in page 10. He then recommended the rehabilitation of the damaged forest plantations.

The Chairperson mentioned that the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) had a very big project on Aquaculture; he suggested collaboration between the Department and the dti on the issue to avoid duplication.

Mr Van Dalen mentioned that the Department should fastrack the removal of bureaucratic red tape on the issuing of licensing aquaculture farms because it took more than five years to acquire one.

The Chairperson referred to page 17 and suggested that the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) should work together because there were many overlapping areas in their line of work and they both represented the same Department.

Ms Pilusa pointed out on page 18, paragraph 3.2, that the Committee did not get a briefing on the Strategic Plan of the Ncera Farms.

Ms Mgxashe replied that the final draft would reflect all the discussions around the Ncera Farms and other entities.

Recommendations
The Committee agreed to include the following points to the recommendations.

●The dti had a very big project on Aquaculture. The Department and the dti should collaborate on the issue to avoid duplication.

●The Committee and the Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs should collaborate for the purposes of doing oversight.

●The Department should prioritise the rehabilitation of the SAFCOL forest plantations that had been damaged by floods.

The Department should remove the red tape on application process for aquaculture licences.

The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) should work together because there were many overlapping areas in their line of work and they both represented the same Department.

The Committee agreed to adopt the report at a later date.

Apologies
The Chairperson announced that Ms Tina Joemat Peterson (ANC) had tendered her apology.

Closing remarks
Mr S Abraham (ANC) mentioned that the Committee made recommendations but the implementing process was heavily depended on the departmental officials. The Committee had very little to show for the success because the “department does not come to the party”.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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