Drought impact on agricultural productivity, sector employment and food costs; Department assistance to farmers in drought areas, with Minister & Deputy present

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

24 November 2015
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Minister, Mr Senzeni Zokwana, and the Deputy Minister, Gen Bheki Cele, attended the meeting.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) reported to the Committee on the current issue of drought facing the country.

In terms of food security status, one in four persons is undernourished today, as compared to one in three in 1990-92; a regional decline of 30% in accordance with the State of Food Insecurity in the World Report. Nationally, the levels of absolute poverty had increased. The number of people predisposed to hunger and malnutrition increased from 12 million in 2011 to 13.6 million in 2012, up to 13.8 million in 2013 and was at 14.1 million in 2014. The upward trend called for action to counter the situation. Globally, the latest forecast put this year’s global coarse grains production at 1306 million tons, 1.8% below the record of 2014. Rice production had gone down, while wheat production had gone up.  World cereal utilisation in 2015/16 was expected to go up 31 million tons, which was still 6 million tons lower than the forecast.

There was a significant decrease in rainfall, especially in most parts of the country with arable land. The dam levels over the country had also gone down since October of 2014.

Unfortunately, the presentation had scarcely begun when the meeting was disrupted by protesting parliamentary staff’, who claimed they would not leave until the meeting was adjourned and their demands were met. After refusing to end the meeting for twenty-five minutes following the initiation of the disruption, the Chairperson allowed Committee members to leave for a National Assembly meeting.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said due to the lack of assisting staff members, she had been unaware of the location of the meeting. Paperwork was not yet available, because of the strike, but the Committee Secretary had come in and the documents would be available later.

The Minister of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Mr Senzeni Zokwana, introduced the delegation from the Department as Mr R Ramasodi (Acting) DDG: Agricultural Production, Health & Food Safety, Dr M Tau (Acting) DDG: Forestry & Natural Resources Management; Mr B D Msomi (Acting) CD: National Extension Support Services; Ms Elder Mtshiza, Chief Director of CAS; and Dr I Kgakatsi, Director of Climate Change and Disaster Management. Also present was the Deputy Minister, Gen Bheki Cele. The Minister said that Dr Kgakatsi would be doing the presentation.

Impact of the current drought on agricultural productivity, sector employment and food costs; and the Department’s response in assisting farmers in drought-stricken areas
Dr Kgakatsi introduced the presentation as an assessment of the impact of the current drought on agricultural productivity, sector employment and food costs, and was also meant to give the Department’s response in assisting farmers in drought-stricken areas. The purpose of the report was to describe the impact of drought and weather conditions in the sector, report on the progress made in addressing the issue and recommend measures in moving forward. The CSIR forecast was that rainfall was only expected by March 2016. Consequently, there was a need to foster agricultural development and food security measures despite the effects of drought and fire incidents. 

On food security status, one in four persons is undernourished today, as compared to one in three in 1990-92; a regional decline of 30% and in accordance with the State of Food Insecurity in the World Report. Nationally, the levels of absolute poverty had increased. The number of people predisposed to hunger and malnutrition increased from 12 million in 2011 to 13.6 million in 2012, up to 13.8 million in 2013 and was at 14.1 million in 2014. The upward trend called for action to counter the situation. Globally, the latest forecast puts this year’s global coarse grains production at 1306 million tons, 1.8% below the record of 2014. Rice production had gone down, while wheat production had gone up.  World cereal utilisation in 2015/16 was expected to go up 31 million tons, which was still 6 million tons lower than the forecast.

The Department displayed a chart showing rainfall in South Africa during the period of July 2007 – January 2008 and contrasted it with one showing rainfall between July 2014 – January 2015. The chart showed significant decrease in rainfalls, especially in most parts of the country with arable land. The dam levels over the country had also gone down since October of 2014. A chart showing the difference in these levels was provided as part of the presentation.

At this point protesting staff members disrupted the meeting. After about 25 minutes, the Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

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