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AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
05 NOVEMBER 2002
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ANNUAL REPORT
Chair: Mr N.H. Masithela
The Department outlined the different programmes that were aimed at assisting emerging farmers to be successful commercial farmers. The Committee was concerned about after-care services to LRAD beneficiaries, especially given the spread of diseases such as foot and mouth in areas in the north. The Department assured the Committee that there were mechanisms in place to look at those problems, but also pointed out that the absence of infrastructure was a problem for some emerging farmers as a result they were unable to put enough fertilizers, water pumps and so on.
Documents handed out:
Annual Report 2001/02
Presentation by Mr Luvuyo Mabombo
Mr Mabombo Chief Operating Officer in the Department introduced his delegation to the Committee and announced that their report would cover an overview of, amongst other things, challenges that the Department faced in the year ending 31st March 2002. He outlined the Department's vision; mission and strategic objectives which he said guided the Department towards service excellence. He said their key clients were the provincial departments of agriculture, public entities working in the agricultural sector, producers of agricultural products, consumers and exporters of agricultural products.
Presentation by Mr Peter Ngobese
Mr Ngobese Assistant Director-General, Farmer Support and Development, said their focus was on the development of policy, norms and standards for farmer settlement, food security and rural development, agricultural finance, the development of cooperatives and agricultural risk management. He mentioned that through the LRAD programme 60% of the 669 000 ha of state-owned land have been disposed to land reform beneficiaries. More than 3 800 new farmers benefited from the transfer of land
Presentation by Mr Attie Swart
Mr Swart Assistant Director-General Trade and Business Development outlined the aims of his directorate as that of promoting trade, market access and black economic empowerment, and provide support to the National Agricultural Marketing Council. He mentioned the achievements of his directorate, citing the long-awaited Wine and Spirits Agreement between South Africa and the European Community which was signed early in 2002. He said increased international trade has made it necessary to strengthen the control of cross-border diseases
Presentation by Dr Emily Mogojane
Dr Mogojane Assistant Director-General National Regulatory Services explained the aims of her directorate, that it aims to provide an integrated national regulatory system to support agricultural production and focus on managing risks associated with animal and plant diseases, food security and the use of genetically modified organisms. She said South Africa was once again free of foot-and-mouth disease
Questions and discussion
Mr S. Abram (UDM) asked about the draft regulations on stock illness, he pointed out that the Department relied very much on statistics, which were interpreted in different ways. He wanted to know what sort of after-care was given to LRAD beneficiaries.
Dr Mogojane responded that they were keenly aware of the after-care services, for instance there was an option that was called farmer support package, which sought to address the issue of after-care. She added that there was a directorate of education and training that was tasked with providing training to the people. For example in the Free State they have mentorship programmes for emerging farmers. She added that the absence of infrastructure was a problem for emerging farmers as a result they were unable to put enough fertilizers, water pumps etc.
Mr Abram further asked what happened to the stock that suffered from the snowfall of 2001, what was done to help those stock farmers.
Dr Mogojane said they made an inspection of those farms and a scheme was established to look at the problems faced by those farmers.
Mr R. Schoeman (ANC) asked how many hectares and beneficiaries of the LRAD programme and how the performance in the provinces was monitored.
The Department said in terms of monitoring and evaluation they were working together with the provinces, the figures and statistics that they presented came from the provinces. The land that they talked about was strictly agricultural land.
Mr A. Botha (DP) asked what position did the government take on the foot and mouth disease in the lowveld area of Zimbabwe and how could it affect South Africa, especially the Limpopo province.
The Department said they were working on policy on the foot-and-mouth disease and all the corridors were checked. They added that the foot and mouth in Zimbabwe was of great concern and they also asked the South African National Defence Force to assist them in ensuring that no animals were crossing from Zimbabwe to South Africa.
Mr L. Dlali (ANC) asked what type of support has been given to make emerging commercial farmers and what was the department policy on short-term leases.
The Department said the main objective of the LRAD programme was to make commercial farmers viable and the accessibility of grants was a viable exercise. The Land Bank looked at the issue of viability, for example the exposure of that person to debt. Short-term leases were encouraged to ensure affordability.
Mr A. Van Niekerk (FA) asked to what extent did the Department had on the dumping of food products by overseas countries into South Africa.
Dr E. Mogojane from the Department replied that the processes that existed allowed the Minister of Agriculture to have a say in the importation of food products into South Africa.
Mr Van Niekerk further asked to what extent was the Department aware of whether Genetically Modified Organisms had no negative effect to consumers.
Dr Mogojane said the procedure for application to import GMO foods was very strict. The evaluation process took place and risk assessment and other processes were very stringent.
Ms O. Kasienyane (ANC) said the lack of senior managers should be seen as a challenge in the Department.
The Department replied that the Commission on food pricing tried to analyze its findings and everything was finalized.
Mr M. Maphalala (ANC) said he didn't see any progress and development in
his constituency in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mr Ngobese said there was a need to look at the nodal points including KwaZulu-Natal; they have already done that at Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape.
Mr Maphalala asked why vacancies were not filled in the Department whereas money was available and there was rollover.
Mr Tommie Marais from the Department replied that the R30 million rollover was money that was made available to operate in the border areas, it was never meant for jobs.
Ms A. Sigcawu (ANC) said farm workers were abused in KwaZulu-Natal and would like to know what was the Department doing to address that problem.
Mr Mabombo replied that as part of the sector plan in the period under review, they've looked at the problem on a broader scope because this involved other departments as well. For instance it involved the department of Labour, safety and security. He added that the Department has drafted an occupational safety plan and they would like to see how could that be implemented.
Ms L. Ngwenya (ANC) asked what achievements did the Department have in terms of training people.
The Department replied that the adult basic education and training that was undertaken by the Department was only for departmental staff.
The Chairperson said the Minister made a speech in May 2002 where she said there should be a mechanism to ensure that provincial departments were performing accordingly, especially with regard to LRAD. He asked how far Mr Pinda had gone with the drafting of the education and training programme.
Mr Pinda replied that there was progress and if the Committee needed information in that regard they would make it available.
The Chairperson concluded by saying that the Department should look at the issue of GMOs more carefully. He reminded the Department that some of the questions needed to be responded to in writing within seven days.
The meeting was adjourned