Department of Agriculture progress reports: National Emergent Red Meat Producer concerns, Disaster Management strategy, Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

13 June 2013
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) briefed the Portfolio Committee on a conceptual plan for institutional support for the sustainable use of communal rangelands in South Africa. The National Emergent Red-meat Producers (NERPO) had approached DAFF to facilitate the plan for this institutional support for its livestock farmers. This was a complex area, particularly in light of the land reform issues. DAFF had identified and met with a number of strategic partners to discuss their possible roles. A number of consultations with provinces would be required to gain support for local government implementation of the projects, in terms of their Integrated Development Plans. NERPO had proposed, and DAFF agreed, that after engagement with the institutions and national government on existing support programmes for emerging farmers, the pilot projects should begin in Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and North West provinces. A Memorandum of Understanding was needed with the stakeholders and service providers who would implement the programmes and a National Stakeholder Working Group would be set up. Members asked how far the plan had gone to address NERPO concerns and when the programme would start, asked for names of stakeholders and asked if all were included. They suggested that DAFF should research existing capacity, mapping and basic requirements before starting the projects and that, after consulting with the provinces, DAFF should report back to the Committee in August, with an implementable plan. Members supported the project being a commodity-focused project which would produce jobs, enterprises and food security.

DAFF then presented the progress report on Disaster Risk Management. Challenges included changing from post-disaster response relief schemes to risk reduction initiatives, since farmers were often reluctant to adopt risk reduction plans, lack of capacity in disaster risk management at all levels, frequency of hazards, the need to monitor locust outbreak control contractors, and inability of farmers to locate breeding and roosting sites of the reported Quelea outbreaks. A meeting was held with the Provincial Disaster Management Centre and National Drought Mitigation Centre regarding drought declaration and classification. Dry conditions had been reported in most central provinces and KwaZulu-Natal province. Affected provinces had been advised to submit reports to their relevant Disaster Management Centre for classification and declaration of the occurrence. The Northern Cape had experienced severe veld fires between October and November 2012 and DAFF had made available funding to assist affected farmers with livestock feed. A Veld Fire Management Plan had been compiled. The amounts verified for pay outs, to address 2011 and 2012 disasters, had been paid in 2013 to Mpumalanga (R2.5 million), Limpopo (R20.6 million) and Western Cape (R12.6 million). In the 2013/14 year, an amount of R263 million (out of the total approved amount of R200 for all provinces) had been allocated to Northern Cape. Further details were given of assistance to farmers by DAFF with outbreaks of pests. Members asked for clarification on the amounts allocated for 2013/14 and amounts verified for 2011/12, requested clarification on the 2007 Langkloof funding promised to that community, and asked for minutes of previous meetings with provinces and lists of all extension officers and Heads, to follow up on various aspects of extension services. They asked how the DAFF would ensure that disaster claimants would receive relief funds as soon as possible, asked who had initiated the provincial declaration on droughts, how many disasters had been declared since 2009, how many declarations had been made and paid out, to whom, and how far the allocations were to provinces not yet paid. They stressed that they could see direct links between successful farms and good extension officers.

DAFF finally briefed the Committee on its mitigation and adaptation programmes to deal with climate change. It was currently developing a Mitigating and Adaptation Plan to propose relevant risk reduction strategies. Mitigation involved reducing greenhouse gases emissions, as about 5% to 8% of total emissions came from the agriculture sector through agricultural burning, agricultural soil, manure management, livestock feedlots and inorganic fertilizers. Climate Change Programmes involved policy development, awareness and research. DAFF’s position paper was incorporated into the country position on climate change at COP18 in 2012, and DAFF was part of the delegation leading up to COP19 in Poland later in 2013. Members asked if DAFF had consulted with commodity groups that could advise on farming adaptations in response to climate change, and how DAFF was offering farmers practical advice on climate change. They asked if the feasibility study would address the capacity challenge and include the plan to speed up the funding process. It was agreed that DAFF would submit relevant information as requested to the Committee, and return in August 2013 to give a further briefing on progress with the Institutional Support Plan for NERPO livestock farmers.
 

Meeting report

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) progress reports
National Emergent Red Meat Producer (NERPO) concerns,

Mr Mortimer Mannya, Acting Director-General, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), said that he was expecting representatives from the National Emergent Red Meat Producers (NERPO) to be present at the meeting. He briefed the Committee on the plan for institutional support for the sustainable use of communal rangelands in South Africa. NERPO had requested that DAFF facilitate the plan for support and DAFF had therefore started engaging with NERPO on the case study, and on the plan to support its livestock farmers.

Communal livestock production was governed by a complex tenure system, particularly in light of the land reform issues and because it relied on rain-fed rangeland as its main and cheapest source of fodder. It was characterised by a low off-take and minimal commercial activity. A number of consultations with provinces would be required before the plan could move forward. Collaboration of institutes would provide policy, strategy, legislation, technical support, market access, infrastructure and financial support.

In terms of animal production, DAFF already had the Animal Improvement Act and Policy, the National Livestock Development Strategy and the National Rangeland Monitoring and Improvement Programme (NRMIP) in place. The National Veld and Forage policy would be published shortly. Other DAFF directorates were the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, Small Holder Development and Land Care & Comprehensive Agriculture Support (CASP) Programmes.

DAFF had identified and met with a number of strategic partners to discuss their respective roles. DAFF itself would provide policy, regulations, technical support, monitoring and evaluation. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) would provide land and necessary infrastructure. Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) would provide impact assessments and environmental regulations, whilst Department of Water Affairs (DWA) would issue water use rights and permits. The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) would coordinate the use of communal land. The Agriculture Research Council (ARC) Range and Forage Institute would implement the national resource programme NRMIP. The ARC Animal Improvement Institute would be responsible for animal improvement and systems research, whilst the South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) bore responsibility for grassland biome activities. Producer and Farmer Organisations (Agri-SA, AFASA, TAU, NERPO, RPO, NWGA, WRSA, RMIF, and others) would represent the interests of farmers and producers and  act as implementing agents. Scientific organisations, universities and colleges would be responsible for capacity building and research. The National Agricultural Marketing Council would support communal livestock farming.

He added that this Portfolio Committee was responsible for oversight; and most importantly, engagement with provincial governments for support of local government implementation of projects in terms of their Integrated Development Plans. DAFF had also consulted with the House of Traditional Leaders, as communal leaders played a major role in land use, and with Onderstepoort Biological Products around packaging the animal requirements in an accessible form for small holder farmers.

NERPO had proposed, and DAFF agreed, that after engagement with the institutions and national government on existing programmes that supported emerging farmers, the pilot projects to support the red meat producers should begin in Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and North West provinces. A National Stakeholder Working Group would consist of the key stakeholders. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would need to be entered into with the relevant stakeholders and service providers who implemented the programmes.

Discussion
Ms A Steyn (DA) commented that although there were many animal health technologists in the communal areas, there was little basic health equipment, limited vehicles, limited transport, vaccinations were not kept cold while being transported to the farm animals during the day, and various other problems. She also noted that many animals were heavily infested with ticks. At a communal farm in Sterkspruit, the animal health technician merely arrived, filled the animal dips and left, without checking the animals for ticks. While money could bring in rams, bulls, fences and boreholes, the NERPO projects should start from the beginning and look at existing capacity and basic requirements on the ground.

Mr Mannya replied that DAFF was working on a plan to revisit veterinary services and would return to the Committee to report on its findings. DAFF had requested funding from National Treasury to improve on animal health in the rural areas. It would also report on monitoring and capacity. Improved alignment with the provinces was necessary. Lack of transport related to decisions made by the head of agriculture in the provinces. DAFF aimed to improve on the reporting matrix for technical (veterinary) services, through to national and provincial.

Ms R Nyalungu (ANC) asked how far the plan was to address NERPO concerns and when the programme was expected to start.

Mr Mannya replied that the presentation was a conceptual report on how DAFF would approach the NERPO concerns. Engaging with the provinces was a priority, as most of the services resided there and would be implemented by them. The programme would be co-ordinated and facilitated nationally. He believed that the plan would be finalised within the coming months.

Ms Steyn asked who the major stakeholders were, and if DAFF had ensured that it had not excluded important stakeholders, as this would impact the success of the pilot project further down the value chain.

Mr Mannya replied that NERPO was part of the Red Meat Industry Forum, who had previously briefed the Committee. DAFF would continue to engage with them within the broad framework. The project was an institutional support forum for communal livestock producers, in line with the need identified by NERPO.

Ms M Pilusa-Mosoane (ANC) asked if the ARC work would not be replicated, and suggested that DAFF should focus on what was already in place. She also suggested that, even though NERPO approached DAFF, all organisations should be embraced and treated equally.

Mr Mannya replied that the integrated approach would not replace existing ARC work. Farmers worked closely with scientists in various areas of farming and many of these farmers and extension service officers were members of scientific professional bodies which were therefore included.

Ms Pilusa-Mosoane  said it appeared that there were many different support initiatives for animal improvement. She asked why there could not be one system for animal health improvement across the country.

The Chairperson suggested that NERPO and DAFF should return to the Committee with a clear plan on how they would collaborate with other state entities and departments so that DAFF did not “re-invent the wheel”. NERPO was about the need for sustainable support, and there had to be tangible implementation of the plan. DAFF needed to establish the status of each livestock farm before intervention, to compare the results pre and post project.

Mr Mannya replied that although there were elements of support from government, this was scattered. For example, the land issue lay with the DRDLR, whilst electricity was with Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and Eskom. A working model was required to ensure that the support system was at a “one-stop shop”. The Cattle Improvement Scheme, a DAFF programme, already existed. The question was how to ensure that NERPO members and the various other interest groups in communal livestock, had access to those facilities, as well as those offered by programmes within other departments. DAFF’s task was to integrate everything into one package.

The Chairperson said that the model made the Committee’s oversight role easier. Whoever was involved, from veterinarian through extension officer to scientist, they were all part of the pilot study as long as they were focused on communal livestock. The integrated plan pulled together support. He requested DAFF to return to the Committee with a clearly-identified, implementable plan at the beginning of August, after it had consulted with the provinces. He supported the project being a commodity-focused project that would produce jobs, enterprises and food security.

Ms Steyn suggested that in relation to land use, DAFF should begin with researching what was possible. At the two-day 1913 Land Act conference, an official from DAFF, who was involved in mapping of land for the various agricultural uses, had mentioned that Limpopo’s agricultural land use was already mapped. Access to this sort of information was critical to identify suitable land and plan appropriately for the animals, as well as animal feed planting. She said there was a need to avoid a repeat of the situation last year, where 700 cattle that had died due to drought.

Mr Mannya replied that bigger breeds were not as adaptable to climate change and food scarcity as Nguni cattle, which were being introduced on a larger scale.

Ms Pilusa-Mosoane said that she had witnessed a success story in the rural North West province. The farmers attributed their healthy livestock to the assistance given by Mangope, in the “olden days”.  

Mr Mannya said that the Mangope system meant bringing in the army to force farmers to succeed. The other option was to educate them so that they willingly wanted to succeed. He wanted to clarify the difference between commercial farming on private land and communal land farming. With the latter, DAFF had to wait on the participatory responses and although some farmers were interested in participating in the improvement plan, others were not. DAFF would proceed with the plan and return to the Committee with an update.

Progress report on Disaster Risk Management
Dr Ikalefeng Kgakatsi, Director: Climate Change and Disaster Management; DAFF said that DAFF had a Disaster Risk Management Plan and was in the process of finalising the Cold Spell Management Plan. DAFF administered a Disaster Risk Mitigation and Prevention Fund through the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period to implement projects such as drilling of boreholes, construction for firebreaks, creating awareness and conducting research to address disaster risk management. DAFF’s Early Warning System, Awareness and Capacity Building Campaigns further addressed response, understanding and risk reduction. Frequent hazards included droughts, veld fires, floods and outbreak of pests and diseases.

Currently, most of the central provinces, as well as KwaZulu Natal province, received below normal rainfall. North West province made funds available to assist some of the affected farmers with livestock feed. Rapid drought assessments had been undertaken and a meeting was held with the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) and National Drought Mitigation Centre (NDMC) regarding drought declaration and classification. Dry conditions were also being reported in Northern Cape and Free State. DAFF was monitoring the conditions and affected provinces had been advised to submit reports to their relevant Disaster Management Centre for classification and declaration of the occurrence.

The Northern Cape had experienced severe veld fires between October and November 2012 and DAFF had made available funding to assist affected farmers with livestock feed. Arson was being investigated by SAPS. A Veld Fire Management Plan had been compiled.

A Flood Management Plan and document on coping strategies had also been developed. Verified pay-out amounts for flood damage for Mpumalanga in 2012 was R2.5 million, and for Limpopo was R20.6 million. In 2011, the amount verified for pay-out was R12.6 million in the Western Cape. These amounts were paid to the respective provinces later in 2013. For the 2013/14 allocations, the Northern Cape had been allocated R263 million out of the total R299 million for all provinces.

On 22 February 2013, DAFF assisted farmers with the control of Army Worm outbreak in the Eastern Cape, Free State and North West provinces, on 134 334 hectares of veld at a cost of R1.3 million. Locust control on 149 farms in the Northern Cape cost R4.9 million. Queleas were controlled at the cost of R3.5 million in the Free State, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. Five blackfly larvae control operations had cost R4.2 million.

Challenges included changing the mindset from post-disaster response relief schemes to risk reduction initiatives. Farmers were often reluctant to adopt risk reduction plans. There was lack of capacity in disaster risk management at all levels, coupled with frequency of hazards. There was a need for monitoring of locust outbreak control contractors and currently, the inability of farmers to locate breeding and roosting sites of the reported Quelea outbreaks posed a challenge.

Overall progress on climate change: mitigation and adaptation programmes
Dr Kgakatsi said that reducing vulnerability to climate change meant integrating risk reduction strategies into humanitarian and development strategies. DAFF was currently developing a Mitigating and Adaptation Plan to identify and propose relevant strategies.

Mitigation involved reducing greenhouse gases emissions. About 5-8% of the total emissions came from the agriculture sector through agricultural burning, agricultural soil, manure management, livestock feedlots and inorganic fertilisers.

He outlined what was being done in respect of climate change programmes. From a policy perspective, the Climate Change Sector Plan for the agricultural and forestry sectors was gazetted on January 2013 for public comments and inputs. In addition to updating the plan with inputs received, DAFF was facilitating three workshops with provincial groupings, and one national workshop, and was also soliciting additional inputs. The final plan was expected to be produced before the end of the year.
 
New mechanisms such as billboards, pamphlets and short courses for raising public awareness levels needed to be deliberated. Farming communities were capacitated with awareness through projects of mitigation and adaptation. Benefits to farmers included improved water management, reduced energy consumption for irrigation, reduced CO2 emissions, increased yield and biomass production and behaviour change.

He noted that, despite financial constraints and capacity challenges, in 2012/13 DAFF commissioned research projects on sensitivity to crop suitability, mitigation and adaptation.

Dr Kgakatsi then outlined the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC ). He noted that DAFF had attended the Conference of Parties (COP18) and that DAFF’s position paper was incorporated into the country position on climate change. South Africa’s position on agriculture was that it recognised the importance of adaptation and its relative priority compared to mitigation, as well as the need to achieve food security and the importance of technology transfer. However, principles of the Convention and actions undertaken under the Convention should not jeopardise food security. Regarding Land-use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of UNFCCC, South Africa would continue to support the position of Africans in the treatment of forest management, stressing the importance of an accounting system that ensured environmental integrity. South Africa’s view on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) was that it was an important component of National Adaptation Management Action (NAMA) and that NAMA should be publicly funded. DAFF would form part of the delegation leading up to COP19 in Poland later in 2013.

Discussion
Ms Steyn said that during the previous year, one of the challenges identified was that a plan with COGTA was required to speed up the process with regard to funding to provinces and municipalities for disaster management. She asked if the feasibility study would address the capacity challenges and include the plan to speed up the funding process. She also asked for clarification on the amounts allocated for 2013/14 and amount verified for 2011/12, as it was not clear in the presentation whether they had been paid out to provinces. Farmers were not able to survive years of waiting for National Treasury to respond. She also asked for clarification on the 2007 Langkloof funding promised to that community. She had received a reply from the Minister that had in fact funding had not been promised to that community. She understood that DAFF had encountered a massive overdraft in its Fiscal Policy and Framework.

Ms N Phaliso (ANC) was concerned that provinces were not spending their allocations and that outreach programmes had no money for emerging farmers. She was concerned that the Northern Cape did not attend the provincial meetings on spending of funds.

Dr Ntabiseng Motete, Deputy Director-General; DAFF replied that after a disaster had occurred, funding was not immediately released, but was released only after a provincial declaration, which involved COGTA and the NDMC. Thereafter, the request for financial support to National Treasury was made with the support of DAFF. The allocation was then made through a Division of Revenue system. There was generally a feeling that this process took too long. The 2012/13 floods had received allocations. The verification process often delayed allocations, as verification was very specific.  The time differed depending on the accuracy of the information collected on the ground. Verified business plans for intervention had been submitted to the Director-General the previous day for 51 projects in the Western Cape and 18 business plans in the Eastern Cape. R63.4 million had been requested for support for these farms. The Minister was concerned about, and was working hard on the interventions for Langkloof. Certain proclamations had been made at the NCOP on the relief business plan for Langkloof. The provincial declaration had to be forthcoming for any requests for funding for disaster management. A progress report on the 69 projects would be submitted to the Committee.

Ms Steyn again asked for clarification on whether 2013/14 allocations for provinces had been paid out or if they were awaiting National Treasury, and if the 2011/12 verified amounts for floods had been paid out to provinces. She also said that she had not received a response from a question that she had asked the previous year, as to how many disasters had been declared since 2009, how many declarations had been made and paid out, to whom they were paid, and how far DAFF was in the process for allocations for those that had not been paid out?

Ms Pilusa-Mosoane asked how the provinces that would spend their 2012 allocation on floods would be funded should they have a disaster in 2013, when there was no allocation amount for 2013/14.

Dr Motete clarified that the provinces had verified amounts for 2011/12 flood disasters but allocations had not yet been made. For previous disasters, allocations had been made. Information on disaster funding since 2009 would be presented when DAFF reported back to the Committee.

Dr Kgakatsi added that the total amount available to the provinces for floods over the MTEF period was around R1.1 billion.

Ms Steyn asked who initiated the provincial declaration on droughts. It was of concern that officials were at times not aware of a drought in a farming community that they represented. With this ‘no care’ attitude, it appeared that the declaration would have to be initiated by the farmer. She had requested the minutes of the meetings with the provinces. The funding response for floods was faster than for droughts, as floods involved roads and the municipality was more closely involved.

The Chairperson said that the major flaw appeared to be lack of clear collaboration between national, provincial and local government. Currently the system was not responding with sensitivity to the needs of farmers. Farmers were running a business to ensure that people had food.

Ms Nyalungu asked how the Acting Director-General would ensure that the disaster claims would receive their relief funds as soon as possible.

Mr Mannya said that disaster management was responded to by a focal point, the District Disaster Management Committee and the case then went to the Provincial Disaster Management Committee and then National Disaster Management Committee. Inputs from sector departments responding to the same disaster would be collated nationally. The system was in place but it was perhaps not being used adequately.

Ms Steyn said that she was concerned that one of the challenges was lack of capacity in disaster management at all levels. However, the action to counter the problem seemed simply to be the sending of  regular correspondence to Head of Departments by the Director-General to indicate areas of concern. She asked how correspondence could solve the problem, asked exactly what type of capacity was lacking and what training programmes existed.

Dr Kgakatsi replied that the lack of capacity was found at provincial level. DAFF had met with the provinces and agreed to perform a feasibility study and request funding from Treasury to increase the number of units to deal with disaster management.

Ms Phaliso commented that climate change cut across all departments and that they all should have funds for emergency disaster management.

Ms Phaliso suggested that an integrated plan with cluster departments should address building of dams for strategic intervention in times of drought.

Ms Steyn asked if DAFF had consulted with commodity groups who could advise on farming adaptations in response to climate change. She also asked how DAFF was offering farmers practical advice on climate change. There was no advice offered by DAFF on the internet.

Dr Motete replied that DAFF promoted Climate Smart Agriculture and would be hosting a national conference on Climate Smart Agriculture Mitigation, Adaptation and Food Security and hoped that it would also address some of the concerns about disaster risk management.

Ms Phaliso commented that DAFF should not have a capacity problem, as there were individuals who were well-educated in farming but who were overlooked or not aware of the correct avenues to apply for a job. DAFF possibly had a recruitment problem. She suggested that DAFF should recruit individuals during its Awareness Campaign road-show.

Ms Pilusa-Mosoane suggested that the community radios should be the mechanism of communication to ensure that information on campaigns was shared in the rural areas.

Ms Pilusa-Mosoane said that drought was affecting livestock on communal land. Areas she visited in the Northern Cape and Free State were vast, extension service officers were scarce and there was no funding to assist. Extension service officers had to be trained, updated continuously on farmers’ requirements and had to be given transport to be able to perform their work. Despite the Committee repeatedly requesting reports on how best to resolve the problem, no reports had been forthcoming. She asked DAFF to report to the Committee on how many extension service officers existed per province and where exactly they existed.

Ms Phaliso asked for a print-out of the list of names of all extension officers and heads of extension officers, together with the region they represented, as well as the person nationally responsible for performance of the extension service officers.

Ms Pilusa-Mosoane also asked where they had been trained and whether training was complete.

Ms Steyn added that the reason why extension officers were so important was because Members could see a direct link between farms that were able to move forward and a good extension officer.

Dr Motete replied that as Members may recall, at the beginning of the financial year, in the DAFF Annual Performance Plan presentation, priority was placed on the Extension Recovery Plan for 2013/14. DAFF could present in detail what the plans were to address concerns raised. Extension services fell under capacity building and food security, but not under DAFF exclusively.

Mr Mannya said capacity was not the only problem associated with extension officers. Another factor was that monitoring was not adequate due to the various levels of extension service officer management. He also said that farmers and officers needed to be registered so that complaints were clearly defined. The head of each service centre responsible for the officers could track the officer and farmer. The Green Book had to be signed by the officer when visiting a farmer. 

Ms Phaliso added that in the areas that she regularly visited, there were no extension officers. These were Kai Garip area, Northern Cape; Karoo Hoogland, Northern Cape; Xhariep area, Free State, Beaufort West area, Western Cape.

The Chairperson said that the matter was of serious concern. However, the meeting would not engage on such detail. At the end of the day, implementation was critical and the work of the Committee was to see the progress on the ground. In 2009, the Committee started talking about extension services and the issue was still outstanding. The Chairperson said while there were excellent policies, strategies, documents, programmes and budgets to benefit farmers, it was not clear how they were actually improving the lives of the farmers and bringing about food security.

Dr Motete assured the Committee that DAFF would submit the relevant information to the Committee and would return to parliament in August with a compilation of the success stories and the impact of the integrated intervention programme for climate change, land care and animal health.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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