The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) briefed the Committee on its 2015 Strategic plan and Annual Performance Plan. The strategic plan was premised on key government medium-term priorities that were informed by the National Development Plan (NDP) and the New Growth Path (NGP), which repositioned food security and agrarian transformation high on the economic development agenda of the country. Groundbreaking legislative and policy reforms were undertaken, which would take it forward to collectively champion a cause for marginalised and vulnerable people in the sector, through National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security, Agriculture Policy Action Plan (APAP), employment in the sector, improved livelihoods and agricultural exports and trade
The four Strategic Goals were outlined: as effective and efficient strategic leadership, governance and administration; enhancing production, employment and economic growth in the sector; enabling environment for food security and sector transformation; and the sustainable use of natural resources in the sector. It was noted that the Department had 6 965 posts on approved Establishment with 63 posts additional to the establishment (later explained as temporary). The total budget in 2015/16 was R6.3 billion but the Department had seen a budget cut amounting to R300 million.
The Committee was also briefed about the Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP). APAP was modeled on the Industrial Action Plan (IPAP) and comprised of Sectorial Key Action Programmes and Transversal Key Action Programmes. The APAP had been finalised and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Strategic Framework has been approved by Cabinet. DAFF, together with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, were co-drivers of the technical team and had devoted the last quarter (January-March 2015) to fast tracking readiness to implement. The focus areas were spatial planning, robust stakeholder and communications strategy; institutional arrangements; production; land acquisition; training; research and development; and market access and trade development. The potential benefits of the APAP were outlined, including increasing numbers of smallholders, increasing the value add of the sector, and of exports, reducing dependency on imports of fertilizer and machinery, and reducing households experiencing hunger. The jobs in the sector could also greatly increase.
The DAFF also briefed the Committee on the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP) which aimed to provide effective agricultural support services and to streamline the provision of service to targeted beneficiaries of land reform restitution and redistribution programmes. The purpose of Ilima/Letsema was to fight poverty through increased food production. This programme also focused on unlocking agricultural production by investing in other strategic programmes that included the rehabilitation of the irrigation schemes, and other value adding projects. Some highlights of the Eastern Cape Masibambane Shearing Shed initiative were outlined.
Members were critical of the first presentation, and suggested that there was not enough linkage between the strategic plans, annual plans and budget and felt that the presentation did not align well with the situational analysis presented. They asked why the budget cut had been introduced and whether it had anything to do with underspending. Members wanted a list of producers in food security projects, the market they were accessing and the products they were selling. They asked how far the Department had gone to develop a policy for smallholder farmers, and commented that aquaculture was poorly funded despite its potential for rural development, job creation and food security at a time when rural communities were sitting without food security and unemployment. Members also felt that the presentation did not have enough of a provincial focus, and this made it difficult to engage. They asked about the challenges of concurrent functions of agriculture, forestry and fisheries and said that more was needed on transformation and how this had been achieved. They wanted to know more about plans to help farmers detect plant pests and diseases, and what the DAFF was doing to combat foot and mouth disease. The export markets were requested, as also more details on the community service projects and the harbour assistance. They commented that the lack of funding for irrigation was very worrying. They asked, in relation to CASP, what kind of monitoring was being carried out and whether the Department had a provincial footprint in all provinces, and suggested that contact details of all extension officers be made available to all monitors, as well as their work being more strictly monitored.
On a matter of principle, Members also debated whether it was preferable for the Department to give oral answers or written ones, in view of the shortage of time to give all the presentations. Most Members expressed a preference to engage properly with the Department and get answers to questions, but later this was belied by the fact that many left before the presentations concluded, for which remaining Members apologised, with obvious embarrassment.
Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries on 2015 Strategic & Annual Performance Plan
Professor Edith Vries, Director-General, Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries registered the apologies of the Minister and the Deputy Minister of the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries.
She said the strategic plan of the Department (or DAFF) was premised on key government medium-term priorities that were informed by the National Development Plan (NDP) and the New Growth Path (NGP), which repositions food security and agrarian transformation high on the economic development agenda of the country. Groundbreaking legislative and policy reforms were undertaken, which would take the country forward to collectively champion a cause for marginalised and vulnerable people in the sector through the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security, Agriculture Policy Action Plan (APAP), employment in the sector, improved livelihoods and agricultural exports and trade
The four Strategic Goals were outlined. These were
- effective and efficient strategic leadership, governance and administration
- enhancing production, employment and economic growth in the sector
- enabling environment for food security and sector transformation
- sustainable use of natural resources in the sector.
Prof Vries noted that the Department had 6 965 posts on the approved establishment with 63 posts additional to the establishment.
The total budget per programme in 2015/16 was R6.3 billion and there was a budget cut amounting to R300 million.
The Chairperson raised some concern over the budget cut. He said if the Department was not able to utilize its entire budget, the National Treasury would give that amount to a different department with an urgent need for the money.
Mr J Parkies (ANC, Free State) asked for the whole list of small and large producers spoken about on food security projects, the market they were accessing and the products they were selling. He asked why commercial farmers were moving away from food production.
Mr A Singh (ANC KwaZulu Natal) wanted to know the budget allocation for under utilisation of arable land and plan for market access. He asked how far the Department had gone in developing a policy for small holder farmers. Aquaculture was poorly funded despite having potential for rural development, job creation and food security at a time rural communities were sitting without food security and unemployment.
The Chairperson said that Members may ask questions but time constraints may preclude the answers being given today, noting that other presentations were still to be given.
Mr M Rayi (ANC Eastern Cape) asked how the Committee would do oversight well if it was just going to ask questions without getting the answers.
The Chairperson said the Committee could agree to ask questions and get replies now, or continue with discussions and then get answers in writing.
Mr Singh said the Committee could not simply accept the written answers; this detracted from the reasons for having the sitting, to engage.
Ms C Labuschagne (DA Western Cape) mentioned that the purpose of the Committee was to ask questions and specifically to interrogate what was happening in the provinces. The problem with this presentation was that it was not broken down into the main details of each province; this made it difficult to scrutinise. The purpose of the engagement was to interrogate the budget and the APP of the Department, with specific reference to provinces. Nowhere else in the presentation were the provincial breakdowns given.
Mr A Nyambi (ANC Mpumalanga) proposed that the Department should now answer the questions already asked.
He commented that the Director General should surely know of the availability of the Minister and it did not help for her to be vague.
Mr Nyambi wanted to know more on the challenges of the concurrent function of agriculture with forestry and fisheries. He asked for a clarification for the use of the word “homelands”.
Mr S Mthimunye (ANC Mpumalanga) suggested that the management committee must sit down and deliberate on the manner in which the Department must conduct its presentation. The Department must inform all its eight entities to align their targets, according to the strategic plans. It would be important for the Committee to look at its oversight visit programme, and align it also to the entities targeted by the Departments. The Strategic and APPs and Annual Report were products of the Minister, and always had a Foreword by the Minister. This Strategic Plan and the Annual Performance Plan did not respond to the situational analyses in the first pages of the presentation, which meant there were no remedies for issues raised in situational analyses.
The Chairperson said the Committee was dealing with issues of agriculture, which pertained of course to land. The Committee must be able to get some sense of the extent of transformation.
Mr Singh asked the plans put in place to help farmers detect plant pests and diseases. He asked what the Department was doing to combat foot and mouth disease. He asked what were the biggest export markets for South Africa
Ms B Masango (DA Gauteng) asked where the 140 people were who would be doing community service, and where this was based. She asked what the DAFF was doing when it said it was helping a particular smaller municipality in developing the harbor.
The Chairperson said it was worrying there was no funding for irrigation, which would affect emerging farmers as they had nowhere else to seek help.
Professor Vries replied the National Treasury knew better why the budget was cut, as the DAFF had been spending more than 98% of its budget. It was not cut because it was underspending. There had been some unfortunate decisions made, and one of these related to the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), which was doing research on developing a new variety of maize which would take at least seven years. For this entity, the budget cut of R300 million was very unfortunate. The ARC research was being funded largely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with the Department only supporting it with administrative costs, and to cut any funding from it was incorrect. The ARC had funds committed for a number of years.
She noted that National Treasury has given DAFF the responsibility for rural development, through the Land Bank, and the Department was focusing more on land degradation. This was being done in collaboration with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) to avoid duplication of programmes.
Prof Vries said she was not able to give the whole list of small holder farmers and cooperatives. She agreed with provinces in addition to the equitable share on how the list of farmers will be acquired. The provinces could give the names and locations of the projects as they were the implementing agencies. Agriculture contribution to GDP was very low but there had been year on year increase in the value of exports, and 12% of the GDP was agro-processing. Most of the goods exported from the country were primary agricultural products. The budget for agro processing sat with the Department of Trade and Industry.
Prof Vries said that in relation to the revitalisation of the agro processing value chain, there were distortions of the pre-1994 position, and most of the mills were in Gauteng. There had been initiatives by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) in building milling plants in areas with increases in agricultural maize production, such as the Eastern Cape. The agricultural poultry associations had the number of goods they exported, and DAFF entered into agreements with other nations. For instance, the Minister had recently signed an agreement for selling apples from South Africa to China, which would bring in about R500 million rands. The commodity groups were the ones with statistics on the number of jobs created by access to the market, and the Department was unable to measure this impact.
Prof Vries said that the slide reading "homeland" should have been amended to "former homelands".
The policy framework on small holder farmers would be on the table by the end of this year. There had been less contribution of aquaculture and it had been contributing only R0.4 billion to the economy. China, Egypt, Iran and Indonesia were doing fabulously in aquaculture. There were about 1 850 jobs only in the aquaculture sector, which could be increased to 210 000, according to research the DAFF had just received. All cooperatives were not functional just as businesses that start the year will not end the year successful, and she did not know the number of those that were functional. Some small holder farmers were encouraged to form cooperatives so that they could be able to meet the entire value chain of agricultural products wanted by, for example, Pick’N’Pay. Some cooperatives were supported for a number of years before they could be able to stand on their own but this could not stop the Department from funding new cooperatives waiting for others to graduate.
She said that agriculture had been identified as one of the drivers for economic growth. Livestock in the country was to the value of R50 billion, and of this, 30% was in the hands of communal farmers. The challenges were making communal farmers breed cattle as an economic activity rather than as a symbol of wealth.
Prof Vries was of the view that there was indeed, in the plans, a link between situational analyses and the strategy presented, and did not agree that they were not talking to each other.
Prof Vries explained that a small holder farmer was defined as someone owning four to five hectares of land and there were 131 000 of them by end of 2014. This year, DAFF was supporting 15 000 small holder farmers and a small percentage of them were being supported for market access. The DAFF would place community newspaper adverts, community radio adverts and national broadcasts alerting farmers on pests and diseases and how to control them. There were 14 small harbours, most of them in the Western Cape, and the development of them was crucial to the ocean economy.
Mr Sipho Ntombela, Chief Financial Officer, DAFF, replied that in 2009 the government set priorities and the structure of every government department must be aligned to those priorities that emanated from the ruling party. The amalgamation of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries meant the structure had to respond to all of these elements. The issue of performance management was put high on the agenda of this current administration and DAFF's organisational structure was aligned to ensure there was adequate performance and monitoring in the Department. The additional posts were temporary, because of the Forestry Congress to be held in September. They were therefore written as "additional post establishment".
Another official from DAFF noted that veterinary services and disease management were a concurrent function for provinces and the national government. DAFF had invited animal health organisations to share knowledge on diseases. The challenges were that veterinary studies were offered by one university.
He noted that by the end of June, the Aquaculture Bill would have to be in a complete draft, and then sent to Cabinet and was to be brought to Parliament in February 2016.
He added that work had been done raising awareness of diseases on foot and mouth, rabies, anthrax especially in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, in conjunction with the Department of Health.
Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) – Progress and Budget: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries briefing
Prof Vries said that on 04 March 2015, Cabinet approved the Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Strategic Framework, with recommendations for amendments. The APAP was modeled on the Industrial Action Plan (IPAP) and comprised of Sectorial Key Action Programmes and Transversal Key Action Programmes. The APAP had been finalised. The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Strategic Framework had been approved by Cabinet. DAFF and DRDLR were named as the co-drivers of the technical team, and they had devoted the last quarter (January-March 2015) to fast track readiness to implement. The focus areas were spatial planning, robust stakeholder and communications strategy; institutional arrangements; production; land acquisition; training; research and development; and market access and trade development.
Assuming that all conditions were favourable, APAP could potentially, among other things:
- Increase the number of smallholders from 164 000 in 2012 to 400 500;
- Increase the value add of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (AFF) from R42,5 billion in 2012 to R48,9 billion in 2019 (or 2% real growth per year);
- Achieve a real increase in value of AFF net exports from an annual average of R5,1 billion in 2012 to R5,8 billion in 2019 (or 2% real growth per year);
- Decrease the value of fertiliser and machinery imports at an annual average of R9,6 billion in 2012 to R7,4 billion (or 3% real decline per year);
- Achieve a reduction in the share of households experiencing hunger ‘sometimes’, ‘often’ or ‘always’ from 10,8% of households in 2012 to 8,0% of households in 2019;
- Increase the number of jobs in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, from 660 000 average for 2012 to 822 500 (an additional 162 500 jobs) and a potential 1 millon jobs by 2030.
Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP) and ILIMA-LETSEMA: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries briefing
Ms Elder Matshiza, Chief Director: CASP, DAFF said that the purpose of the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP) was to provide effective agricultural support services and to streamline the provision of services to targeted beneficiaries of the Land Reform Restitution and Redistribution programme. The purpose of Ilima/Letsema was to fight poverty through increased food production. This programme also focused on unlocking agricultural production by investing in other strategic programmes that included the rehabilitation of the irrigation schemes, and other value adding projects.
Some of the successes in the Eastern Cape Masibambane Shearing Shed project were:
- 11 shearing sheds were built in 2013/14;
- National Wool Growers Association (NWGA) provided training and market support;
- Wool value realised had increased from R5/kg to R35/kg; and
- Extension officers were seconded to work with NWGA.
Mr Rayi said he was embarrassed that 60% of the members were no longer present. This was an embarrassment as the Committee wanted to have a full day's meeting but Members had been unable to agree to this, and this point would have to be followed up in the internal procedures in parliament. In one of the Committees in Parliament, he and the Chairperson had been the only ones left in the meeting. Those very same people who had expressed themselves opposed to getting written responses were no longer present to ask questions. Some of the excuses would be that there was a plenary in the afternoon and a budget vote for Department of Human Settlements.
He strongly suggested that the Committee must apologize to the Department as it often complained when the Minister was not here, yet now the Members were leaving the Committee.
Mr Rayi said that he would submit questions in writing on CASP. There must be clarity on roles between the DAFF and DRDLR, on CASP. He was not satisfied that the Director General was not able to monitor what happened in the provinces, as the Committee relied on the provinces' reports, when monitoring. The Head Office must follow the money dispatched to provinces if the projects were running.
Mr Rayi asked if DAFF had offices in the provinces, citing the example of other departments, such as the Department of Mineral Resources, which did have offices in all provinces. In one of the budget votes last year, the Minister of Public Works indicated that officials in the province merely said the project was there, yet there was nothing to show for it. In the Eastern Cape, during the Third and Fourth Parliaments, he had visited projects in the Eastern Cape himself during constituency periods. The Department must be able to give him a sample of the projects.
The Chairperson said Mr Rayi made a very good input. When the Members introduced themselves as representing provinces, this was important. The Chairperson had visited district land reform committees and he also visited the Department of Rural Development. It would be good for the Committee to be given even the contact numbers of those running the projects, so that the Committee would be able to do its oversight effectively. He asked where extension officers were found, as the communities always complained that these people would spend more time in their offices than out in the fields meeting people and actually assisting them when help was needed. The Department must have a database of the numbers of extension officers in every district, so that they could be accessed by the communities when needed. There were about 130 officers per province and they should be accessible to farmers. This must be a responsibility of the Department at the national level. The DAFF must not merely leave it to the provinces, as they would throw it down to the district municipalities, who would pass it on to the local municipality.
The Chairperson asked if Members had any recommendations for the budget vote.
Mr Singh said he would put his comments in writing.
Ms Masango said she had questions and would also submit in writing.
Prof Vries said the whole of government must focus on how much and how, where and what was money being spent on. It was no good being told that government was giving farmers support without specifying what type of support was offered. The Department established the tablet technology in one of the provinces where farmers would call project officers when in need. The Department received reports from provinces and the Head of Department would verify the information received. That information stood over until the Auditor General visited. DAFF had taken most of the agricultural functions including inspecting at ports of entry. The website would show a page where farmers could key in their details of their district and get the contact details of extension officers.
Mr Rayi suggested that the Department should consider finding a space to brief the Committees when either the Select Committee or the Portfolio Committee paid a visit to the provinces. When he was a board member of a government entity, he used to invite the Portfolio Committee and the Select Committee to the provinces to make inputs. This made it easier to appear before the Portfolio Committee later. Members of the Committee participated in one of the programmes. This might be a useful model for DAFF to follow.
The Director General said the Department needed to pay more attention to provinces, so as to ensure the strategic objectives and the Annual Performance Plan spoke to the roles of the national Department.
The Chairperson thanked officials, supporting staff and Members.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) Progress and Budget presentation
- Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP)& Ilima-Letsema presentation
- Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries: 2015/16-2019/20 Strategic and Annual Performance Plan
- Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) 2013 & 2015 presentation
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