With its Minister and Deputy Minister in attendance, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) briefed the Committee on its post settlement support provided to land reform beneficiaries. A comprehensive breakdown was given of DAFF’s support programmes: Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP), ILIMA/LETSEMA, MAFISA (loan component) and provincial food security programmes. CASP’s total budget allocation since its inception in 2004/05 up until 2014/15 was R9.3bn, its total expenditure sat at R7bn (89%). The total number of projects assisted by the Programme was 8 222 and the total number of beneficiaries was 473 542. DAFF was engaged in upgrading the qualifications of its extension officers. It had 12 Colleges of Agriculture which produced farmers and provided training for small farmers. The purpose of the ILIMA/LETSEMA Programme was to fight poverty through increased food production. Since its inception in 2008/09 up until 2014/15 it had spent 97% of its funding. It gave a breakdown of figures in 2014/15 for food security programmes in the provinces. The programmes covered households, schools and community gardens. In 2014/15 a total of 143 172 hectares of ground was being targeted for planting. To strengthen its efforts, it made recommendations pertaining to Programme Design, Monitoring and Management.
Discussion topics raised by the Committee included the key importance of markets - it was all good and well that beneficiaries of farms could farm but what was the point if they could not sell their produce. The survival of the farmers depended on the sale of their produce. Export procedures and processes acted as barriers since many of the beneficiaries of farms were not educated and capacitated on how exports worked. The question thus begged to be asked whether beneficiaries were really benefitting. Members were not convinced that food security was covered in all provinces. Specifics and details on DAFF’s extension officers were requested by members. A suggestion was made that DAFF should perform a situation analysis. Members were not convinced that sufficient marketing was being done in the provinces.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) briefed the Committee on its Recapitalisation and Development (RAD) Programme in 2010 to address the problem that many land reform projects since 1994 were not successful and in distress or lying fallow. The idea was to provide black emerging farmers with the social and economic infrastructure and basic resources they required. The RAD Programme did not support people who had the means to develop their land. Emphasis was placed on assessing the capability of the emerging farmer and assessing the needs of the farm. The RAD Programme model involved a tripartite collaboration between DRDLR, strategic partner/s and farmers or entrepreneurs. There was a five-year involvement of DRDLR in the farm both financially and at the project management level. The contribution of DRDLR decreased whilst the contributions of the strategic partners, farmers and entrepreneurs increased on both a financial and project management level. The performance of the RAD Programme from its inception in November 2009 to 31 March 2014 showed that a total of 1 459 farms had been assisted covering 1.4m hectares of land. The total recapitalisation and development expenditure sat at R3.3bn.
Concerns were raised by members that some mentorships were not beneficial to small upcoming farmers. It was suggested that DRDLR perform a situation analysis to check on whether interventions were making an impact. Were aims of job creation and food security being realised? To what extent had rural to urban population flows been reduced? Specific questions were asked about the Mokgoba tea estate in Limpopo. Both departments promised full written responses to questions.
Mr Duduzi Shabane, Director General: Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, apologised for the absence of the Minister and Deputy Ministers as they were engaged elsewhere.
Mr Parkies said that the Committee could not accept the apology as at least one political head could have attended the meeting.
The Chairperson stated that the absenteeism was condemned by the Committee.
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) briefing
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries briefed the Committee on its post settlement support provided to land reform beneficiaries. In attendance were Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Deputy Minister Beki Cele and Ms Edith Vries, Director General. The briefing was undertaken by Mr Mokutule Mgobokoe, Deputy Director General: Food Security and Agrarian Reform. The support mandate for land and agrarian reform beneficiaries matched three of the twelve government’s outcomes: Outcome 4: decent employment through inclusive growth; Outcome 7: vibrant, equitable, sustainable rural communities contributing towards food security for all and Outcome 10: enhance SA’s environment assets and natural resources.
The Committee was provided with a comprehensive breakdown of DAFF’s support programmes: Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP), ILIMA/LETSEMA, Micro-Agricultural Financial Institutions of South Africa (MAFISA) and provincial food security programmes. The overall purpose of the CASP was to provide agricultural support services to streamline the provision of services to targeted beneficiaries of land reform’s restitution and redistribution. CASP’s total budget allocation since its inception in 2004/05 up until 2014/15 was R9.3bn, its total expenditure sat at R7bn. It had spent 89% of its budget. The total number of projects assisted by the Programme was 8 222 and the total number of beneficiaries was 473 542. Members were provided with figures on the 2014/15 CASP gazetted allocation and spread per province and total funds available for CASP and ILIMA/LETSEMA amongst the provinces as well as on what the funds would be spent. DAFF was engaged in upgrading the qualifications of its extension officers. A total of 861 extension officers were targeted and to date 419 had registered to study further. Staying on the topic of education, DAFF had 12 Colleges of Agriculture. The Colleges produced farmers and provided training for small farmers. The 2014/15 total allocation to Colleges was R58m.
The purpose of the ILIMA/LETSEMA Programme was to fight poverty through increased food production. Since its inception in 2008/09 until 2014/15 it had spent 97% of its funding. A breakdown was given of figures for 2014/15 for food security programmes in the provinces. The programmes covered households, schools and community gardens. In 2014/15 a total of 143 172 hectares of ground was targeted for planting.
In conclusion DAFF made recommendations on how it would strengthen its efforts. These covered issues pertaining to Programme Design, Programme Monitoring and Programme Management.
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) complained that the late receipt of briefing documents from both departments was unacceptable. He had put pressure on both departments via the committee secretary to make the briefing document available early to the Committee. Yet the documents were received from DAFF only on Friday afternoon 12 September 2014. The Minister had previously assured the Committee that they would not receive documents late, yet it had happened again.
Minister Zokwana apologised for the lateness of the documentation received by the Committee.
Mr C Smit (DA, Limpopo) referred to CASP’s marketing and business development pillar and noted that marketing seemed to be the problem that prevented the success of the projects. There needed to be a link between the market and the industry.
Mr J Parkies (ANC, Free State) supported the recommendation of DAFF to improve its performance by monitoring projects on a monthly and quarterly basis. Projects could be grandiose but in the end they did not make an impact. Academic staff at agricultural colleges had to be of good quality. Referring to the curriculum review undertaken by DAFF which required provinces to interact with stakeholders, what was the rationale behind it? Was the curriculum dependant on conditions at grassroots level? He referred to figures on food security targets for households and schools in the provinces and asked why the figures for the North West Province were zero. He addressed the Minister and Deputy Minister and said that he would bring up market access over and over again. It was all good and well the beneficiaries of farms were able to farm but what was the point if they could not sell their produce? They would simply not survive. There were procedures and processes in place for the export of produce. This was a barrier for some farmers who were not educated and capacitated to do this. He asked what the linkages were between DAFF and DRDLR. Were land beneficiaries benefitting? Land redistribution could take place on paper. Beneficiaries were selling land back to previous owners. Practically, beneficiaries were not benefitting directly from the land.
Minister Zokwana conceded that it was correct that some beneficiaries were renting the land back to the previous owners. Commercial farmers needed to be approached to mentor small farmers.
Ms C Labuschagne (DA, Western Cape) referred to DAFF’s recommendation that municipalities should be involved in project planning and delivery and asked what was meant by that. One of the pillars of CASP spoke to farm infrastructure. Was there an action plan in place to make water affordable to farmers and subsistence farmers?
Minister Zokwana replied that DAFF worked hand in hand with the Department of Water on infrastructure especially relating to water and water rights.
Mr A Nyambi (ANC, Mpumalanga) noted that the briefing had given the impression that food security was covered in all provinces. He felt that practically speaking this was not the case. He referred to slide 12 and asked DAFF to provide the Committee with a breakdown of funds allocated to each project in each province. Specifics should be provided on the number of years that CASP had supported each project and the number of beneficiaries directly involved in the project. He referred to slide 14 and asked what the difference was between targeted and registered extension officers. He asked for greater detail on the training of extension officers in the North West Province. What was the number of extension officers in SA? What percentage were they of the targeted numbers? Slide 14 spoke about extension officers upgrading their qualifications. If they were studying towards diplomas what was their current qualifications. He was disappointed by the absence of the Minister and Deputy Minister of the DRDLR.
Minister Zokwana spoke to the academic qualifications of DAFF staff and especially that of extension officers. It was concerning that there was only one extension officer that had a PhD. DAFF staff were being lost to the private sector. The issue was about what programme DAFF had in place to reintroduce this skill. He felt that the agricultural colleges needed to fall under the Department of Higher Education.
The Chairperson instructed DAFF to respond to members’ questions verbally as well as submitting a written response later on.
Mr Rayi stated that he had perused the DAFF strategic plan and asked if the Committee could get a situation analysis of its programmes. The numbers might look good but the issue was whether an impact was made. How did DAFF make decisions on how to allocate funds? On the upgrading of the qualifications of extension officers, he asked if DAFF had a programme in place to encourage extension officers to study.
Minister Zokwana replied that DAFF would consider doing a situation analysis. Both DAFF and the DRDLR wished to ensure that when land was transferred to communities, the land remained productive.
The Chairperson asked if there were good examples in the provinces that could be cited by DAFF. He asked to what extent was MAFISA known about and accessible to struggling farmers.
Minister Zokwana agreed to report back to the Committee on good examples of success stories in the provinces. The MAFISA question would be covered in DAFF’s written response.
Mr L Gaehler (UDM, Eastern Cape) noted that not all provinces were covered by marketing, and he asked why? He asked if DAFF still had a mechanisation programme in place. He pointed out that DAFF had invested a great deal of funds on irrigation schemes. He felt that the extension officer situation was pathetic. They simply did not exist according to him.
Minister Zokwana referred to the marketing programme in terms of what crop was planted in which province. DAFF would provide figures to the Committee on the numbers of crops that were linked to institutions. DAFF had lists of products and a written report could be furnished to the Committee. A marketing programme was important. In DAFF’s written response it would explain which crops went to which markets. Mechanisation was important but the maintenance of tractors had to be done. He begged to differ with Mr Gaehler and stated that extension officers did exist.
Mr Smit referred to the allocations made to colleges and pointed out that during the 1st term most colleges did not spend more than 4% of funds. He noted that the Committee had visited the Limpopo Province where there was the second largest land claim in SA. It involved a tea plantation of the Mokgoba family and DAFF had spent R54m to get it back on track. DAFF had informed the Committee that tea production was not viable in SA. Why was tea production not viable in SA? If it had not been viable why had R54m been spent on it? He asked when DAFF supported farms, did they do a viability check?
Minister Zokwana responded that the persons involved in the tea plantation relied a great deal on state funding. The question was whether there was a market for tea. Crops that were planted needed to be marketable. He asked why government could not be the main user of the tea produced. He felt that no cooperative could survive without procurement by government. No project could succeed without linking it to a particular market. Consumers had to be encouraged to buy local. The low spending of colleges in their 1st quarters would be looked at. He said that whatever issues had not been responded to verbally would be covered by the written response by DAFF.
Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) briefing
Mr Duduzi Shabane, DRDLR Director General, headed the delegation in the absence of the Minister and Deputy Ministers. He pointed out that he was under the impression that the briefing document had been sent to the Committee the week before. He had seen the document himself.
Mr Bonginkosi Zulu, DRDLR Acting Deputy Director General, briefed the Committee on its Recapitalisation and Development (RAD) Programme. In 2009 the DRDLR evaluated the implementation of the Land Reform Programs since inception and it was found that many land reform projects were not successful and in distress or lying fallow. The RAD Programme was introduced in 2010 to address this. The RAD Programme targeted properties acquired since 1994 through restitution and redistribution programmes. The objectives of the RAD Programme was to see to it that land reform farms were 100% productive and that rural-urban flow was significantly reduced. The idea was to provide black emerging farmers with the social and economic infrastructure and basic resources they required. The RAD Programme did not support people who had the means to develop their land. The Programme encouraged strategic partnership arrangements which included the mentorship of emerging farmers, co-management, share-equity arrangements and contract farming. Emphasis was placed on assessing the capability of the emerging farmer and assessing the needs of the farm. The RAD Programme model demonstrated that there was a tripartite collaboration between the DRDLR, strategic partner/s and farmers or entrepreneurs. There was a five-year involvement of DRDLR in the farm both financially and at the project management level. The contribution of DRDLR decreased from the first year to the fifth year whilst the contributions of the strategic partners, farmers and entrepreneurs would increase on both a financial and project management level. The performance of the RAD Programme from its inception in November 2009 to 31 March 2014 showed that a total of 1 459 farms had been assisted which covered 1.4m hectares of land. The total recapitalisation and development expenditure sat at R3.3bn. For the financial year 2014/15 the total RAD Programme budget allocation sat at R910m. A breakdown of figures as per province was provided. Commodities funded through the RAD Programme included red meat, poultry, grain, citrus, dairy and vegetables.
Mr Parkies spoke about mentorship and felt that the departments could do more if they were more vigilant in the provinces. He noted that some mentorships worked and other did not. In some instances mentors did not impart skills and knowledge. He asked if there were equity share schemes in other provinces besides the Western Cape. He emphasised that the linkage between DRDLR and DAFF was important.
Mr Shabane agreed that the effectiveness of the RAD Programme on the ground needed to be monitored. When disputes arose between mentors and beneficiaries then DRDLR stepped in. He had met with the Minister on the 12 September 2014 to discuss the issue. DRDLR was reviewing all its existing contracts. The RAD Programme was being looked at in its entirety to see if policy objectives were being met. Coordination with DAFF was taking place in terms of Outcome 7 on rural development. This Outcome focussed on many issues. Both Departments had identified six priority areas over the next five years. A total of 300 000 smallholder farms covering 1m hectares of land would be supported. The Departments were doing their utmost to align their efforts.
Mr Rayi, as with DAFF, suggested that DRDLR undertake a situation analysis in order to check whether interventions were making an impact. On the process leading to the RAD Programme, he asked whether consultation with farmers had taken place. He asked to what extent the aims of job creation and food security had been achieved. To what extent had rural to urban population flows been reduced? The RAD Programme was aimed at assisting those in need. Was a threshold set to exclude those who had the means? What support was DRDLR providing to beneficiaries in terms of the mentorship programme? He noted that he would submit the rest of his questions in writing to DRDLR.
Mr Shabane replied that urban migration figures were huge. There were 20m people living in rural areas. Most of them were in the former homelands. The problem was that small farmers needed land in order to grow. He felt that it was perhaps early days to measure the impact of the Programme. He confirmed that consultations with farmers were taking place. Farmers communicated their problems and made suggestions on how their problems could be resolved.
Mr Zulu said that DRDLR did assessments on the capabilities of farmers. Persons who had means could approach commercial banks for loans. There was a process of accreditation of farmers as well.
Mr Smit once again referred to the Mokgoba family tea estate land claim in the Limpopo Province and said that the claim had been lodged 10 years ago. To date the title deed had not been transferred to the Mokgoba royal family. The title to the tea estate had been transferred to the Department of Public Works. He asked who was actually benefitting. Benefits were being given to non beneficiaries. Was this an isolated case or were there others?
Mr Shabane replied that the Mokgoba tea estate had many challenges attached to it. It was best for DRDLR to explain the situation in a written response.
Mr Gaehler asked DRDLR to provide a written response to his questions. He asked for a list of farmers who had been assisted on state land. The list should be broken down per province and should contain information on how assistance had been given.
The Chairperson said that DRDLR could respond to questions but would still have to provide written responses.
Mr Zulu agreed to provide written responses to the questions raised by Mr Gaehler.
Mr Shabane said that written responses would be submitted to the Committee on the issues raised.
The Chairperson emphasised that, in future, DRDLR principals such as the Minister and Deputy Minister should be present at Committee meetings. Briefing documents should be provided to the Committee at least one week before a meeting.
Land Bank board nominations
The Committee agreed to a short meeting on Thursday 18 September to conclude this matter.
Committee minutes dated the 26 August 2014 was adopted as amended.
Third Term Committee Programme
The Third Term Committee Programme was adopted as amended.
The meeting was adjourned.
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