Women and agro-processing: briefing by Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

02 June 2015
Chairperson: Ms T Memela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Director General reviewed the state of women in agriculture and policy interventions to help close the gender gap. The key programmes intended to benefit women were outlined as well as the progress made in each programme. Departmental statistics on how many women worked for DAFF were given and the extent to which women had benefitted from its Bursaries and Learnerships programmes. The Chairperson asked penetrating questions about the performance of these projects and the budgets. The Chairperson informed the Department that there was a lack of synergy with the Department’s interaction with other departments. Members interrogated the poor performance of some of the projects targeting women and they were dismayed about insufficient finance to make these projects sustainable. Members raised issues of projects being dysfunctional and officials lacking expertise in agricultural extension. There was concern about the overlapping of projects with the Departments of Land and Rural Affairs and wastage and mismanagement which led to one project being suspended for three years. The members were appreciative of the presentation of the acting Director General Fisheries Management who described the policy on small scale fishing in which women benefitted from being rights holders for white mussel and oyster. Members also raised issues about skills development and transfers, the problem of underutilisation of land in the tribal areas and the agricultural schools and colleges. The members believed that the Department must meet the challenge of increasing woman’s participation in agriculture and that the issue of ensuring food security was vital for the championing of the NDP. There was also a discussion on the failure of the Department to meet its disability quota and the negative impact that AGOA’s increased poultry imports would have on the job market for the country. 

Meeting report

Key Departmental Programmes Targeting Women.
The Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Prof Edith Vries, apologised that the presentation only reached the Committee the day before and that the presentation still had limitations which she asked the Chairperson to give direction on. The Director General proceeded with the briefing. The report discussed the state of Women in and Agriculture 2010 – 2011 with a review by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The main highlights were women comprised 43% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries and those women in agriculture and rural areas have less access then men to productive resources and opportunities. Closing the gender gap in agriculture would generate significant gains for the agriculture sector and for society. The production gains could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 – 17%. These potential productivity gains were just the first round of social benefits that would come from closing the gender gap.

The DAF targeted women via six programmes: the DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards, the AgriBee Fund, the Micro Agricultural Financial Institutions of South Africa (MAFISA), the DAFF Career Awareness Programme, the Comprehensive Agricultural Support programme (CASP) and the Land Care Programme.  

Prof Vries explained the current breakdown of women representivity within DAFF: Women were currently 41% of management and 46% of overall staff in the Department.

She reported that 93 women were awarded bursaries to study during 2015/16. Eight learners had enrolled for a learnership in animal production and 152 woman were part of the Internship programme for 2015/16. Seven employees were encouraged to participate in ABET.

The Director General noted the limitations of this briefing as the Committee had asked for geographic allocations as to where the beneficiaries were and the budgetary allocations for those programmes. This information was not complied in time for the meeting and this would be provided in writing later.  

Ms M Chueu (ANC) asked if the DG was satisfied that during the last 20 years DAFF had done everything to empower women in such a way as to eliminate poverty. She would have preferred the whole presentation to be SA orientated because historically women had been key in cultivating the land and the Department should have taken note of that historic perspective because women were now the ones that were unemployed and sitting in poverty and inequality. Nothing had been said about women orientated budgets and she asked where the DG planned to take her Department taking into consideration that she was also a woman. Ms Chueu noted that she did not want to talk about numbers but rather the effectiveness of the Department implementing policies on the ground. How did they empower women over the last 20 years, how many women owned farms and how did they plan to take that forward with regard to the National Development Plan (NDP) which was very lean on women? The DG needed to ensure DAFF allowed for at least 60% accessibility for women in all their programmes.

Ms Chueu cited her constituency of Hammanskraal which was semi-rural where every house had a chicken and a fruit tree in their yard but DAFF had never shown this community how they could eradicate poverty by cultivating fruit trees in their homes. She noted that most of these households were dependent on social grants. There were livestock wandering around these areas without any proper grazing area and DAFF had not been there to advise people on where to graze their livestock or what feeding material to purchase for them. DAFF should have a fishpond in every household so that the community could become self-sufficient and feed itself on fish which had more protein then meat. Why was DAFF not involved in any poverty alleviation programmes? DAFF had something like 3 000 males working for them but in their history males were never involved in agriculture, but merely sat around under the trees drinking liquor.

Ms Chueu highlighted an incident in which one of the officials from the Gauteng Department of Agriculture was asked to help people in her constituency plant spinach but the official told her that he had never planted spinach before and was unable to help her. However she was taught this skill in primary school. How many agricultural schools had been reopened over the last 20 years and what was DAFF doing to eradicate social poverty and what programmes were there to show this?

Ms N Marchesi, (DA) noted that we have land in SA which was extremely underutilised and an example being when she drove through the Free State. She asked for clarity on the MAFISA programme and how much had this budget financed women farmers. The amount of R500 000 for MAFISA was insignificant “chicken feed” with which nothing could be done. She asked how DAFF was helping women farmers get access to funding and loans without which they were unable to farm.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) stated that they were not convinced that this Department was doing its work in the rural areas and that the presentation was not detailed enough. They wanted a detailed list of people who had benefitted from these programmes, where they come from, how much was allocated and which programmes were sustainable. Was there a gender focal point person in DAFF who dealt directly with gender matters? How many people with disabilities did DAFF employ?

Ms Tseke noted that they had several LandCare programmes in her constituency which were literally dead. They did not function and this indicated that DAFF was unaware of this due to inadequate monitoring. At one stage there were effective agricultural extension officers who were around to assist but she was did not know what had happened to them. She was unaware of the AgriBee Fund and asked how DAFF publicised this programme and communicated it to the community because women wanted basic information about these programmes. DAFF had introduced a programme in Mpumalanga where grain silos were built and this programme had collapsed. What measures was DAFF taking in monitoring programmes for young emerging entrepreneurs?

Ms C Majeke (ANC) noted that women must get land because most of the land was owned by men who were not willing to work on their land or sell it. The rural area where she came from, wards 17 and 18, were barren and the land was not being used. She felt that if this land had been allocated to women instead they would have worked it. She requested that DAFF introduce a food garden into each and every homestead instead of their having to go out and buy fresh produce. She suggested that poultry farming should also be encouraged to reduce dependency on buying from shops. The budget allocated for financing women farmers was underfunded and this must be reviewed.

Ms Tseke asked how many women from the rural areas were included in that figure of 2 240 women assisted through the AgriBEE Fund and what were the criteria for communicating their programmes to women in rural areas. She asked about DAFF’s role in assisting potential women farmers.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) thanked DAFF for the presentation and noted that women in rural areas were facing unemployment and lacked skills and financial resources. What was DAFF doing to ensure that women benefitted in the rural areas? There was a programme in KZN called ‘One Home, One Garden’ but this programme was not successful because there was no water so DAFF had to work with Department of Water and Sanitation to supply water tanks to these households. She asked if they had any school programmes to advise learners to choose agriculture as their future career.

The Chairperson noted that the Members were not satisfied and needed to ask DAFF more questions.

Ms M Chueu asked how they could help get women into the forestry industry because there are plants in South Africa that are used to produce cloth and paper. She asked how women along the coast were being helped to work in the fisheries industry. She noted a shortfall in terms of DAFF’s monitoring its equipment because there was a surplus of tractors allocated to the community in her constituency and these tractors were not being properly monitored.

Ms Majeke asked what role was DAFF playing with the DTI and why DAFF was not telling them anything about current African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) negotiations and on trade relations with the rest of Africa. What substitutes were in place should the USA stop trading with SA? She asked how Science and Technology in farming helped women to become commercial farmers and how DAFF was influencing the school’s curriculum to encourage pupils to make agriculture their career and how important maths and science was in Agriculture.

The Chairperson asked why DAFF returned a chunk of money amounting to R231 million that was unused from the AgriBEE Fund to National Treasury when there was such an outcry for help in the rural areas. What was being done about the mismanagement? She noted that during the briefing in February 2014 DAFF had said that only 1 in 6 programmes were being funded and she asked what the current status of the Fund was presently.

The Chairperson agreed with the outcry from the members that the amount of R500 000 for funding was inadequate and asked if this was a thumb suck figure. She noted that some people were struggling to repay the loans since they had no money because conditions were so bad. She asked who had done an assessment of the programme and what the outcome was. She asked if the LandCare programme was the same as the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and how sustainable it was. She asked for the percentage of disabled people working in DAFF. They should not take away anything from the disabled because they could perform just as well as normal people.

The Chairperson noted that there were so many specialists in rhe different levels and areas in South Africa yet we were are still so dependent on the outside world. These experts should walk the talk and assist and educate our women farmers so that they can earn a living because agriculture can make a difference in SA. We should start with a programme in schools in which there is a market garden in every single school which sells its products to the community and a percentage of those children who are impoverished would receive some of the output from the market garden. There were so many wetlands in SA and the women involved in these wetlands were producing agriculture.

The Director General agreed that Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was a catalyst for economic growth and it was also the vehicle that can be most inclusive for poor and marginalised people. She believed that when one talked about things that were going to grow the economy, Agriculture was seen as the low hanging fruit and DAFF echoed the sentiments the members have expressed. Part of the problem was the issue of concurrent powers because the National Department did not implement policy, it only set it out and then the nine provinces implemented policy such as the CASP and LandCare policy. The Department was busy working with National Treasury deciding on the policy criteria for the grants and how the fund must be targeted. CASP and Illima Letsema were scheduled for grants which meant they are viewed as being additional to the equitable share. DAFF sets the criteria and the provinces provide us with their business plan and we then test whether they meet these criteria but ultimately the provinces do the implementation.

The DG agreed that this presentation should have been located in the position of South African women in society and that this was a limitation as more women were poorer than men and it was more difficult for women to escape that poverty. Gender budgeting was required to be done by departments but they had lost their edge and the disaggregation of saying how much was spent on women was not even on their radar.

The DG stated that in the CASP programme the two conditional grants accounted for R 2.2 billion which went to CASP with the criteria that 40% of CASP must be targeted for women. 69% of the total budget was transfers.

The DG referred to the question on how many farms were owned by women, stating that the land audit of state land by the Department of Rural Development was incomplete. The Department’s job was to compile a farm register which was still work in progress and it took huge resources so they could not answer how many farms were owned by women.

The DG noted that on the land audit that had been done, the Surveyor General had said that post 1994 legislation had changed and it was no longer necessary to show the race classification on the title deeds. On whether the gender of the owners could be determined from the title deeds,  she would report back to the Committee on this.

The DG responded to the question on how DAFF intended taking the NDP forward by stating that this would be done through important targets that fall within their mandate, Outcome 7, dealing particularly with the number of smallholders supported, the million jobs created in the sector, and the underutilised land under production.

She noted that in SA there was no standardised definition of the small holder farmer across government. Small holder farmers were a body for which our statistical instruments were blind because Statistics SA used households involved in agricultural activity and the size of the land that households use. Currently the numbers DAFF used for smallholders in SA were inferred from those statistics that Statistics SA used. The Department then got everyone together last year and completed a set of norms and standards drawing on everyone’s definitions. According to this set of definitions, a farmer category would then entitle them to draw on various technical and financial services. These norms and standards would be completed by September when they would become a policy framework out for consultation and this would go a long way in addressing several of the questions asked.

The DG accepted that certain people did not know about the AgriBEE Fund and MAFISA programmes and that the MAFISA programme was a drop in the ocean.

The DG of National Treasury gathered the Departments of Agriculture, Rural Development and the Land Bank together and the total amount of money available for Agriculture and Rural Development in the country amounted to about R 74 billion per year. This figure included the R34 billion loan book of the Land Bank. They discussed whether all this money was being optimally used and where there was overlap in the departments. They found conflicting programmes that were duplicated and they were busy sorting these problems out.

The DG agreed that the funding for MAFISA was insufficient and that the interest rates were fairly high. The often conflicting policy instruments which had similar overlapping programmes forced the two Departments to work together with National Treasury on an integrated financing model. Once the comprehensive framework on producer support was completed, then it would be supported by an integrated funding model.

The DG responded to the question on household level agriculture by stating that in September 2013 a policy was approved called the Integrated Food and Nutritional Policy and that policy was co-sponsored by the Department of Social Development. The policy had two legs namely the social response that looked at the household level intervention and the productive response and in that way we brought these two policies together are we are the owners of that policy and we have an interdepartmental forum on food and nutritional security so we are able to report in a coordinated way. The Department did some household interventions but the main drivers were the ‘One Household, One Garden’ programme which was driven by the Department of Social Development.

The Chairperson noted that there was a very strong programme of Agriculture in the schools when she got involved in KZN. This was why some of the children who did Matric went to varsity and decided they were going to explore all these avenues. It seemed as if there was no synergy in the work being done and once this happened then things became very bad.

The DG agreed with the Chairperson that there was insufficient synergy and they should be far more effective in ensuring household level food security.

The Chairperson noted that when she made reference to synergy she meant DAFF was national and it had to ensure proper oversight at the provincial level and the provinces should then ensure that local government followed the prescribed work. That was the reason for the NCOP which did the dirty work for all the provincial departments but unfortunately when there reports come back, they were not acted upon.

The DG noted that one of the issues that her Minister had taken up was the demise of Agriculture as a subject in school because it is no longer a set subject in school but one of choice. There are very few agricultural schools where we know where they are and our Minister is championing this and engaging Education. She added that farmers, researchers, policy makers are all ageing and we have to grow the next generation of people who will drive the sector at all levels. Her colleague, the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) CEO, said that in the next two to three years 60% of the senior researchers would be retiring so we to have a programme for growing the next generation.

Ms Lebogang Botsheleng, Chief Director: Capacity Development in DAFF, replied to the questions on how DAFF was promoting careers in agriculture for young people in the rural areas. What DAFF was doing for those pupils that did not necessarily want to follow an academic curriculum but wanted to be primary producers. They had a programme called career awareness and it targeted school going children and their focus was on farm schools where they targeted children of farm workers. There were 34 agricultural high schools in the country and agriculture was taken as a subject only in 15 of these high schools. They also started these learners at grade 11 and sold the idea via pamphlets and the Department of Basic Education assisted them with a list of rural schools which it went to and targeted those learners who were interested in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. They worked through the parents who signed consent forms who were subsistence farmers themselves. These students were automatically enrolled by us if they met the requirements in the agricultural faculties at designated universities. DAFF had an arrangement with university agricultural faculties in which we asked them to reserve places for these bursary holders that DAFF was sponsoring. The bursary scheme was about R14 million. They did not fund everything in agriculture but they had a list of scarce and critical skills.

The second option which was available was for children of farm workers who did not want to follow an academic course but a hands on course which was called the developing young producers strategy which was for entrepreneurs and we used already existing projects like aqua culture or livestock and we made an arrangement with the project where they received mentoring. The shortfall was that some of them wanted their own land and we are working on that.

The Chairperson stated that kids in townships were excluded and yet there were kids who had an interest in doing agriculture further and this lead to the us versus them situation. She requested that DAFF do a feasibility study in the townships on this and she wanted clarity on whether maths was the criteria for this programme.

The Director General noted that at some stage there was a deliberate decision to target rural schools particularly after the 2012 unrest on farms when they targeted the children of farm workers. The fund was very small however and they would include the township schools in a breakdown however they favoured rural schools. The DG asked Ms Botsheleng to cover the area of forestry and fisheries in DAFF.

Ms Botsheleng stated that the bursary scheme covered township schools but they favoured rural schools. She noted that Mathematics was a requirement for learners who applied for a bursary and admission to university. They additionally funded students who went to agricultural college where maths was not a requirement. The Department funded students that went to Fort Cox Agricultural College to do Forestry Management and they also funded those students who wanted to do Oceanology and Marine Biology and some were even sent to China.

Ms Chueu asked if DAFF was doing enough for skills development and were they doing enough to feed South Africa and so that the country would be less dependent on imports of fresh produce. She felt that the Department of Rural Development land audit was not a deterrent and there were ways of overcoming obstacles and DAFF needed to know what was going on at the three levels of government and they needed to complement these activities and not duplicate them. The land used by tribal authorities often referred to as reserves could be made productive even though rainfall was low. She asked DAFF if they had trained people to drill boreholes so that they could produce food. Had DAFF assisted people to grow their own indigenous plants like rooibos tea in the Western Cape so that they would generate an income.

Prof Vries continued answering the Members’ questions and stated that there was no human resource plan for the agricultural sector presently to ensure the country’s food security except for an inventory of scarce skills. The President had announced that he was approving an agricultural policy action plan and his nine priorities included the revitalisation of the Agricultural and Agro processing value chain.

One of the value chains that they were focusing on in the next few years was poultry and the demand for poultry had increased by 34% in the period 2009 to 2012. Based on these figures the demand for poultry would increase by 38%. We want to increase poultry production by ramping up exports and reducing the number of imports. 60% of the input costs in poultry was feed because chicken ate soya oil cake and in order to meet this target they intended putting 238 000 hectares under soya production by 2019 to increase poultry production.

For all those areas in that nine point plan that the President announced the Department of Higher Education was driving the capacity building plan for the country and the Department of Agriculture was participating and doing its work in this. A Member had asked why each family could not have a fish farm. Fish do have diseases and presently no university taught marine health and nobody could train in this field.

The DG mentioned that in terms of working together with other Departments there was integration where the DTI, Rural Development and Land Bank were working together to implement the NDP. The Department of Agriculture on its own did not have the resources to put the underutilised land in the tribal areas under production. The provincial departments got their equitable share and they were monitored whether they have fulfilled their allocation of putting land under production. The target last year for the MTEF was 200 000 hectares of unproductive land in communal areas should be put under production but we managed to put only 129 000 hectares under production based on our resources. The Members were correct in saying much of this was about winning over the tribal chiefs with whom they discussed this. Most of this high value arable land was found in the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.

The DG promised to come back and provide where the CASP land projects were being implemented because the provinces provided them with the coordinates and they would present this to the Committee.

The DG reported that in 2014/15 only 1% of staff in the DAFF had disabilities and this was well under the threshold required. There were some people who were reluctant to declare their disability.

The DG noted that the quality of the agricultural extension officers was poor and DAFF had embarked on a national extension worker revitalisation programme which was being implemented over the last three to four years. The programme looked at professionalising these workers and getting them to go to school. The Department had made funds available to provinces through Ilima / Letsema for the training and employment of extension workers.

The DG addressed the question of the AgriBEE Fund saying that since the fund’s inception in 2009 Treasury had allocated R 34 million per annum but due to collusion and corruption in 2009 some officials were suspended and the fund was suspended for three years. The fund became available in 2013/14 and applications were being considered again. The Department committed itself to finding ways of raising the awareness of this fund amongst the public.

The DG responded to a question on monitoring and performance and the sustainability of projects launched by them. The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation did an impact study on CASP and MAFISA. Generally the findings on CASP were that some benefits were accrued but the programme could be far more effective. It was found that they did not make investments in projects for long enough to make them sustainable. In agriculture different commodities took a longer time before projects became sustainable. An example being macadamia nuts which were a high value commodity and would only yield its first crop sfter seven years. Apples only yielded after three years so certain projects required more funding than others. The Department had taken into account all of the findings on its projects and they were happy to share the information on what the new improvement plans were.

The DG referred to the silos that were opened two years ago and were not being utilised. The Department was aware of this and they would make better use of these silos once the local maize production in the area was pushed up by small holder farmers.

The DG responded about food gardens, saying they were not able to answer that because this may have been work done through the provincial government and DAFF’s focus was shifting more to the productive response of small holder farmers.

The Department would have to come back to the Committee with information on how much money was allocated to women.

The DG turned to the question of accessibility of markets and noted that the DAFF has been actively involved in the AGOA negotiations in which SA had been threatened to be kicked out. She noted that currently SA was importing a total of 150 000 tons of poultry from various countries and that the US had wanted SA to import 145 000 tons of poultry from it alone. However SA could not concede to this demand as it would affect its BRICS partner Brazil and would lead to job losses and it would be harder for small holder farmers.    

The DG explained that the LandCare programme was funded partly by EPWP and partly by CASP and the entire programme was run on EPWP principles.    

 The DG noted that DAFF had a very competent body of professionals working for it and the Chief State Veterinarian had just been elected as President of the World Body on Animal Health and this was a reflection of the standing of our scientists in the global arena.

The DG stated that DAFF did not yet have that regional focus to stop migration from the rural to urban areas but research indicated that this was a worldwide phenomenon. DAFFs mandate was to execute its brief better since Agriculture was the mainstay of the rural economy and this would keep people on the land in rural areas.

Ms Siphokazi Ndudane, Acting DDG: Fisheries Management, discussed the challenges in fisheries. The President had launched Operation Phakisa to revitalise and boost the economic potential of the oceans. She noted that historically DAFF was biased towards agriculture with Fisheries playing a lesser role, having come into the department later. She noted that there were some successes but it would take targeted intervention to address the problems of women. Ms Ndudane was a direct beneficiary of this government’s policy in targeting intervention in finding skilled talent in marine sciences and fisheries management. The DDG noted that there was no single university in SA that taught sea fisheries management and none of the 23 universities offered a degree in sea fisheries management and the only degree offered was in marine science which was a general degree. The coastline was 3000 km long and we were not maximising on the potential and the yields of the ocean’s fish. The government had 30 people trained in Norway in a Sea Fisheries Management programme and the majority were now working in administration.

The Department had taken a decision that all our rights holders in the white mussel and oyster sector from the Wild Coast to KZN up to the border of Mozambique were all women. The Department visited the areas of Port St Johns and found the women were struggling whilst they were doing the harvesting in the low tide and it was dangerous work. The Department provided the women with chisels and assistance to harvest the mussels and oysters. The local fishermen know the conditions and DAFF has partnered with them in the provision of tools. The women are benefitting from being given the rights and we have launched a small scale fisheries policy and it recognises the increasing participation of these women. The current Act called the Marine Living Resources Act needed to be reviewed by DAFF because it excluded a number of the vulnerable communities and it only recognised the big corporations like I&J and Sea Harvest. The current Act did not recognise those people living close to the resources who would be small scale fishermen who use this as a source of food and income. This small scale fisheries policy would recognise that group and has prompted an amendment in the current Act. This has come about when the community living close to the coast took government to the Equality Court because they were excluded from participating and only the commercial companies were participating in the allocations and harvesting. Presently the women who were harvesting were not allowed to process as this Act forbids harvesting and processing without a permit. One had to apply for the necessary permit to process fish and this permit was called fish processing establishment. The small scale fisheries policy had prompted government to amend the current Act which would hopefully lead to the situation where the women could participate in the value added chain which allowed for food processing and freezing in cold storage which would lead to greater economic opportunities.

Ms Ndudane noted that historically there were only twelve proclaimed fishing harbours in the country because the Western Cape was seen as the only fishing area in the country. The Act needed to be amended so that other harbours could be proclaimed in order to assist these women in the value added function of the fish processing industry.

The Department had partnered with the SA Maritime Safety Authority who did the sea going courses in terms of sea safety and they would be rolling this out to the women. Examples being sea rescue bases at Port Edward and Durban. The department was in the process of allocating long term fishing rights for fishing and sea weed harvesting as well.

Ms Ndudane noted that in the bigger scheme of the commercial sector they had small / medium enterprises owned by women. The major issue was that the bigger you went, then you needed a sea going boat that could stay out in the ocean for three weeks and had capacity for processing as well. These boats cost up to R500 million and upwards and the capital needed to be raised through a consortium together with DTI to purchase these boats for women so that they could participate in deep sea fishing. Aqua culture was mainly focusing on marine fisheries and DAFF was busy finalising a policy for inland fisheries which needed to be determined by legislation. The Department was looking at the possibility of using inland dams for fishing by communities.

The Chairperson thanked DAFF for the feedback.

Ms Chueu agreed that DAFF could do a lot more for the community and that there was a lot of indigenous knowledge that people had which could be utilised but it was never recognised. DAFF had not gone to all the areas along the coast to find out what opportunities existed for women. She made the point that the current Acts impeded the local communities from developing resources and the current legislation needed to be amended or changed. The resources could not be wasted and DAFF need to improve because time was not on their side.

Ms Marchesi thanked DAFF for their input and the presentation given by Ms Ndudane and she asked if cooperative banks (stokvels) were financing projects and what was DAFF doing about it. The CBDA (Cooperative Banks Development Agency) allocated money every year and was a resource that could be used by the community.

Ms Tseke noted that government had set a target of 2% for people with disabilities and they wanted to see progress on this. She noted that research would be done on projects that did not work but inquired why the officials in the department were not sent out to monitor the progress instead. She asked what was happening to the Marapyane College of Agriculture. She asked for a report on whether this would be remain open or not as the President had promised to keep it open.

Ms Bhengu noted that the DG said they were not an implementing agency but she asked if they had a database which could be opened so they could monitor all these projects. A big project was introduced in Msinga which involved a nursery garden costing R3 to 4 million which was now a white elephant due to the fact that there was no water available for this project. DAFF should have done a feasibility study and research beforehand because the women were selling the products alongside the roads without shelter. The DTI had now started to utilise the ground for infrastructure and they were planning to build big shopping malls in the areas where they should be using land for nurseries. What did DAFF plan to do about this development which was using agricultural land?

The DG responded to the question about DAFF not being proactive. The Department had about 31 pieces of legislation and none of this legislation violated the Constitution of the country although some legislation needed a total overhaul.

The DG responded about Indigenous Knowledge stating that they have a genetics laboratory where 35 000 indigenous seeds are been kept for safe keeping. The Department reproduced this material and put it back into the community. There was also indigenous livestock such as Damara goats and there was a programme to propagate these indigenous breeds and maintain and grow them for the community.

The DG noted that there was a danger of bringing in legislation that could be harmful to people and to avoid doing so all legislation had to be taken to the to the Socio Economic Assessment unit located in the Presidency to ensure it did not contradict other legislation.

The DG stated that DAFF had a database and they were busy building it, About 50% of last year’s projects were on this database but she could not give all the details of DAFF projects over the last ten years. This situation had changed with the introduction of the outcomes based approach.

The DG noted the comments on establishing a cooperative bank and what the possibilities were, although this was not in their mandate, this could be raised in the economic cluster. The Department realised that they fell short on the disability targets and they would have to make greater effort in recruiting people with disabilities.

The DG referred to Agricultural Colleges and said they could make a presentation but a decision had been made by Cabinet that colleges were to be moved to Department of Higher Education. The Marapyane College of Agriculture was going to become the kernel of the University of Mpumalanga.

The Department was developing a protocol on access to water because Agriculture uses 65% of water in a water scarce country. The DG believed that DAFF was gender blind but could do a lot more to improve the lot of women in DAFF.

The Chairperson concluded the session and the meeting were adjourned.            

[Apologies : Ms D Robinson (EFF), Mr M Dirks (ANC) and Ms L Van der Merwe (IFP)]

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