Strategic Infrastructure Project 11: NAMC briefing; Mechanisation Policy & proposed accession to 3 international fisheries bodies: Departmental briefing, with Minister present

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

21 October 2014
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) presented on the SIP 11 projects, and their relationship to the National Development Plan, the Infrastructure Development Plan and the Presidential Infrastructure Development Commission. The Committee was told about the funding, the location of the projects, and who would be part of the governance structure. There had been difficulty with the implementation of some of the projects due to a lack of rural infrastructure, a lack of connectivity of rural areas and insufficient rail capacity. The SIPs had been focused mainly on the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo, because they had the most rural locations where no activities were taking place.

Members asked how some projects were not able to be funded when a detailed budget had been set aside for them. They pointed out the disadvantages of constructing the projects in phases, as this led to theft and vandalising of equipment. Why had they decided to construct these projects in some areas, and not others, and what criteria had been used to select areas for the projects?

DAFF said the majority of food producers could not afford mechanisation due to the economies of scale and the costs of maintaining the machinery (fuel, operation, purchasing costs), and there was also a lack of technical skills to operate the machinery. The objectives of the mechanization policy were to ensure the provision of an affordable mechanisation service to producers with access to viable natural resources, to unlock the potential of under-utilized agricultural resources, to increase food production and reduce poverty and under-development, and to promote local economic beneficiation.

Members felt that more research had to be done. DAFF needed to talk to the people who would be benefiting from the policy before the implementation stage started. The policy could not be implemented without speaking first to the farmers. Would support from the government increase productivity?

DAFF's third briefing provided reasons why accession to the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), The Convention for the Conservation of the Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) and The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Port State Measures Agreement to prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing would be good for South Africa. However, Members were concerned about what it meant to be an associate member, the safety of the country’s shores and the terminology in the presentation.
 

Meeting report

The Chairperson went through the agenda for the meeting, and announced the apologies from absent Committee members, many of whom had other meetings to attend. The representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) were welcomed. Committee Members and staff were asked to stay for ten minutes after the briefings, for a short meeting to discuss the programme for Thursday.

National Agricultural Marketing Council on the Strategic Infrastructure Project 11 (SIP 11)
Dr Simphiwe Ngqangweni, Senior Manager for Markets and Economic Research, National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), presented the strategic infrastructure project (SIP) together with Mr Ronald Ramabulana, Chief Executive Officer of the NAMC. Professor Edith Vries, Director General of DAFF, was also present for the briefing.

Dr Ngqangweni discussed the outline of the presentation and explained how it had been put together, and why certain parts were not included. The SIP guiding policies and Acts were the National Development Plan (NDP), Infrastructure Development Plan (IDP), Infrastructure Development Act, 2014, and the Presidential Infrastructure Development Commission (PICC). All the policies and Acts allowed for the proper implementation of SIPs, and it was also a way for the Department to get funding for the projects.

The governance structure of the PICC consisted of the Council, Manco, the Secretariat and the task team. The Council comprises Cabinet Ministers, Premiers and Executive Mayors, and considers the performance dashboards of every SIP, reports to Cabinet and recommends policy changes to the Cabinet. The Manco consists of a number of key Ministers, and they monitor the development plan and ensure coordinated regulatory approvals. The Ministers also support the Secretariat, while the Deputy Ministers oversee the day-to-day activities of the technical team.

The presenter went through each of the SIPs in detail and explained where they were situated, and in which areas they had started operations. There had been difficulty with the implementation of some of the projects due to a lack of rural infrastructure, a lack of connectivity of rural areas and insufficient rail capacity, to name just a few.

Mr Ramabulana said the SIPs had been focused mainly on the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo, because they had the most rural locations where no activities were taking place. The Western Cape and Gauteng province had the least focused areas. The SIPs had been constructed in phases. For the first phase, the value of the projects had cost the Department R1 127 931, with a total of 34 643 jobs created, and the second phase had cost R2 769 497, with 20 095 jobs created. The conceptual and planning phase included all projects that were at the conceptual, planning, tendering, advertising and re-advertising stages.

Some of the SIPs' challenges were that there were inconsistencies with reporting, especially on the development stages of the construction, there were too many gaps in the provincial reports, and provincial report were submitted late. The successes were that they had developed a SIP 11 business plan, and certain provinces had been reported to be doing well with the projects. There had been two Cabinet reports thus far, showing that all stakeholders involved were committed to the projects and some activity was taking place.

Discussion
Mr T Ramokhoase (ANC) said that the SIPs were part of the NDP, but the report stated that there had been problems with the funding of some of the projects. How was that possible when the Minister of Finance included the projects in the budget each year? To what extent did monitoring and evaluation influence changes in the projects?

Ms A Steyn (DA) said the Department could not implement SIPs in phases, because it would cost more money. The equipment used to construct the projects had become damaged and vandalised when they had been left on the sites. Why had they decided to construct these projects in some areas, and not others, and what criteria had been used to select areas for the projects?

Mr Z Mandela (ANC) asked in which area the National Red Meat Development Project in the Eastern Cape was being constructed. When would they start and how long would it take to complete. He also asked who was responsible for the Ncorha project, and how much money was being spent on it.

Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) said she had never heard a decent presentation from the DAFF. The presentation had no detail, and there was no fiscal commitment for the projects.

Mr Ramabulana responded that they did have a detailed report on each of the SIPs, and the Committee was welcome to visit the sites where construction was taking place. On the issue of choosing areas, they had used employment and agricultural criteria, looking at the employment potential and agricultural growth of the area before deciding to start construction. They were also trying to get the private sector involved in the projects, especially with regard to funding.

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on the Mechanisation Policy
Mr Mokutule Kgobokoe, Deputy Director General: Food Security and Agrarian Reform (FSAR), gave a background history to explain how the Department had come to formulate the policy and why it had been necessary for them to do so. The majority of food producers could not afford mechanisation due to the economies of scale and the costs of maintaining the machinery (fuel, operation, purchasing costs), and there was also a lack of technical skills to operate the machinery. The objectives of the policy were to ensure the provision of an affordable mechanisation service to producers with access to viable natural resources, to unlock the potential of under-utilized agricultural resources, to increase food production and reduce poverty and under-development, and to promote local economic beneficiation.

The guiding principles and legislative mandates were what would help manage the policy. Some of the legislative mandates were the Constitution of the Republic, the Public Finance Management Act, the National Veld and Forest Fire Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the Skills Development Act. The document also included the general conditions of support for farmers, how and when monitoring and evaluation would take place, and a conclusion detailing the way forward with the policy.

Discussion
Mr Ramokhoase asked if the State was financially able to provide the machinery to implement the policy. Was the Department willing to first test the policy in a few areas before implementing it across the country, to see if it would work?

Mr C Maxegwana (ANC) said more research had to be done, and they needed to talk to the people who would be benefiting from the policy before the implementation stage started.

Ms Steyn agreed with Mr Maxegwana, saying that the policy could not be implemented without speaking first to the farmers. She asked if the support from the government would increase productivity.

Mr Mandela asked for feedback on the investigation that had been made into an official who had stolen a tractor.

The Chairperson said that traditional leaders in the rural areas used tractors as a means to punish farmers who had not paid their levies. They withhold them from the workers, or farmers, and they are not able to produce food.

Mr Kgobooe responded that they needed to consult with the state. They had taken note of all the questions and would get back to the Committee with responses as soon as they have consulted and retrieved the relevant documents.

DAFF on its proposed accession to three international fisheries bodies
Mr Mortimer Mannya, Deputy Director General of Fisheries -- who was later joined by the Minister, Mr Senzeni Zokwana -- presented on the Department's proposed accession to three international fisheries bodies.

The Agreement for the establishment of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) was an intergovernmental regional fisheries management organisation (RFMO), mandated to manage tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean. South Africa's long line fishing effort for tuna were originally developed in the Atlantic in 1998, but had since 2002 expanded to include the Indian Ocean. Currently, most of South Africa’s long line fishing effort was focused on the Indian Ocean, where catch rates were higher.

Acceding to the Convention for the Conservation of the Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) would greatly improve South Africa's negotiating position for more equitable southern bluefin quotas, as all management decisions -- including country allocations -- were based on 100% consensus by member parties.

Regarding the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Port State Measures Agreement to prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, establishing a network of ports adopting port state measures was regarded as the most cost-effective means of combating IUU fishing. It would also protect South Africa’s resources and markets by not allowing access for illegal fish products often threatening the livelihood of South Africa's national fishing industry.

Discussion
Mr Ramokhoase asked what the conditions of being an associate member were.

Ms Jongbloed said the Department should provide them with a list of all the acronyms and abbreviations they had used in the documents.

Mr Mandela asked about the security at the different shores, and wanted to know how South Africa was going to ensure there was no illegal fishing taking place off our shores.

The Chairperson reminded the Committee that this briefing would not include questions. Members should ask questions only for clarity’s sake. They had agreed upon a day on which they would ask the Department questions.

The Minister said that being an associate member meant you were limited to an amount of time while fishing, and there were some areas where you were permitted to fish. One could not cast votes when the Commission had to make important decisions.

The Chairperson asked which organisation would represent SA on the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission.

Mr Mannya said no organisation would join on behalf of SA, but SA would join as a country.

Committee Programme
The Chairperson asked if the Members understood the programme for the week, and asked for the adoption of the Committee Programme. Ms Steyn and Mr Ramokhoase proposed its adoption.

The Chairperson thanked the Members and the representatives from the Department.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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