Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on 2015/16 2nd & 3rd Quarter performance & impact of SONA on Department, with Minister present

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

23 February 2016
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

1 million hectares of land is lying idle in the rural communal areas. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) made this revelation when it was briefing the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on its Second Quarter Performance and Expenditure Report.

Briefing the Committee on its six programmes, DAFF reported that the increased vacancy rate was due to budget cuts. It is standing at 11, 5%. However, two critical posts were filled in January of 2016 with the exception of the post of the Director-General which is being processed by the cabinet. The gender distribution of DAFF remains skewed, with males scoring 59% while females are retaining only 41%. Reason is that the Department decided to deviate from the set employment equity targets by the different directorates.

Quarterly review meetings on CASP are held with provinces. Provinces agreed to monitor projects on a monthly and quarterly basis. Project verification visits were conducted in Quarter 2 in all provinces. At the end of Quarter 2, 161 projects were monitored by DAFF in all nine provinces. DAFF received an allocation from National Treasury for 2016/17 to increase its capacity for project management, monitoring and reporting.

DAFF supported small-scale producers and processors in accessing markets through increasing the reach of SA-GAP to livestock producers, and increased the number of Value Chain Industry Roundtables to support RAAVC and APAP (Aquaculture, Fruit and Wine). The SA-GAP certification programme concluded pre-audits on seven farms in Western Cape, North West and Gauteng, while final certification audits were concluded on four farms in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Free State and Gauteng.

Seven provinces declared drought under NDMC and PDMC. Provinces used R113 million from their equitable share to assist and DAFF provided interim feed aid for livestock of smallholders to the tune of R226 million using CASP.

DAFF was also busy with the implementation of nine Aquaculture Projects under Phase 2 of Operation Phakisa (Developing the Ocean’s Economy). The draft Aquaculture Bill has been through the Socio-Economic Impact Assessment System tool (SEAIS), and is now ready for public consultations. The DAFF has further established the Inter-Departmental Authorisations Committee and the Aquaculture Development Fund.

With regard to progress on the Implementation of 2015/16 SONA Plans, the focus has been on the 1 million hectares of underutilised land in communal areas under production; farmer training and technical support; new or unemployed graduates appointed and allocated to farms; infrastructure development for agricultural sectors and regions with high productive potential; increasing market access on AFF products; and Agri-Parks established in 27 priority districts.

Members asked what the set target was for previous years seeing that the initiative of putting 120 000 ha under production would not be achieved this year due to drought; asked how the problem of land security is going to be resolved because companies like Grain SA would like to help and have made commitments; wanted to know about the whereabouts of the 9 aquaculture projects; wanted to find out if the Department has got targets set for gender distribution so as to close the gap and make it 50/50 or 60/40, with females sharing the big slice of the pie;  remarked that it is not healthy for a Department to run without a DG; and asked what the Department is doing to assist farmers with electricity supply.

Meeting report

Briefing by Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)

Mr Mortimer Mannya, Acting Director-General, DAFF, focused his presentation on the 6 programmes of the Department: Human Resources, APHFS, FSAR, TPMA, FNRM, and Fisheries.

Programme 1: Human Resources
The increased vacancy rate was due to budget cuts. However, two critical posts of DDG: Agricultural Production, Health & Food Safety and Chief Director: Internal Audit were filled in Quarter 3. The DDG: Fisheries Management post was approved by the Cabinet in January 2016, and the post of the Director-General (DG) is in the Cabinet process. The post establishment in Q2 totaled 6 631 posts, with 647 vacancies and vacancy rate of 10,2 %. In Q3 the post establishment totaled 6 336 posts, with 730 vacancies and vacancy rate of 11,5%. However, 13 SMS posts were advertised in January 2016

The reconfiguration project to integrate the organisational structure commenced in May 2015, and DAFF had received the draft Report with recommendations. Organised labour was consulted and was part of the process (member of the Project Monitoring Task Team and Reference Group Task Team). This project would be concluded once the new Director-General is appointed.

Gender distribution at SMS level is 41% female and 59% male. In complying with the provisions of the Employment Equity Act, challenges emerged such as requests to deviate from the set EE targets by different directorates. Reasons included the nature of duties attached to positions not being suitable for female applicants and lack of required competencies within certain sections of particular race groups and/or gender.

In order to improve the employment conditions and service benefits, the organised labour and the employer discussed the following issues in Quarter 2 and Quarter 3:

  • Long outstanding camping allowance problem, which has been resolved.
  • Implementation of PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2012.
  • Unilateral changes on the duty roster at border posts.
  • Provision of firearms and bullet proof vests.
  • Rationalisation/improvement of accommodation at DAFF.
  • Recognition of improved qualifications

All matters affecting the Auditors-General’s report were included in the Audit Matrix. The Audit Matrix was updated with the first and second progress reports that were due on 31 October and 30 November 2015, respectively. The final progress reports were due on 31 January 2016. The Auditor-General was currently busy with the Interim Audit. The Interim Audit Management Report was due on 29 February 2016. DAFF intended to reduce the root causes of repeat audit findings by 60%.

Programme: APHFS

Mr Mannya reported that in Quarter 3 there was an outbreak of SAT-3 FMD in Limpopo. The outbreak was detected in the Protection Zone in Limpopo, where vaccination was carried out. However, the outbreak is currently being contained in the province. Four affected diptanks were detected in December 2015, and one in January 2016. They were all located in the Thulamela Local Municipality, which falls within the FMD Protection Zone (with vaccination). The outbreak does not affect South Africa’s FMD free status as the Protection Zone is not part of the Free Zone.

DAFF engaged in discussions with the USA on the importation of beef, pork and poultry meat from the USA to South Africa. A protocol for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was signed between the 2 countries in November 2015. Letters had been signed on the two meats: pork and poultry.

On compulsory community service, a target of 131 veterinary graduates has been set for deployment, but only 123 have been placed.

In 2015 exports of citrus black spot to EU rose to 681 000 tons, from 615 00 tons in 2014, despite

SA again voluntarily suspended exports from CBS areas. The number of interceptions dropped to 15 in 2015 from 28 in 2014. Notwithstanding the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) process, APHFS with support from TPMA continues to work with the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) towards the lodging of a formal WTO dispute. To this end, the dti obtained Cabinet approval for SA to lodge this formal dispute. South Africa is currently free from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and was able to export Ostrich meat to the EU.

Programme 3: FSAR

Mr Mannya said that the DAFF chaired the Food and Nutrition Insecurity Interdepartmental Task Team that has developed a draft Drought Response Plan. The expansion of the Social Relief Programme and Household Food Security Support was prioritised in the Food Insecurity Draft Plan.

The Fetsa Tlala Food Production Initiative of putting 120 000 ha under production would not be achieved this year due to the drought. Food prices for a basic food basket increased by 4,1 % from R502 to R522 between July 2014 and July 2015, and by 4,6% from R506 to R529 from October 2014 to October 2015 (NAMC Food Price Monitor). Empowerment interventions included appointment of 7 candidate engineers that were employed additional to the post establishment to gain experience.

Quarterly review meetings on CASP were held with provinces. Provinces agreed to monitor projects on a monthly and quarterly basis. Project verification visits were conducted in Quarter 2 in all provinces. At the end of Quarter 2, 161 projects were monitored by DAFF in all nine provinces. DAFF received an allocation from National Treasury for 2016/17 to increase its capacity for project management, monitoring and reporting.

The South African Council of National Scientific Professions (SACNASP) Act had been reviewed and amended for inclusion of Extension Science as a field of practice. 2 632 applications of Extension Practitioners were received and are being processed for registration by SACNASP. 350 Extension Practitioners have been registered in different extension categories, while 1 117 still had outstanding information to provide to SACNASP.

Through the internship and experiential training programme, 47 graduates had been placed on various farms producing APAP aligned commodities, while 288 interns were placed in various technical units within DAFF. Further 311 students were awarded bursaries to pursue different study fields in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Programme 4: TPMA

DAFF supported small-scale producers and processors in accessing markets through increasing the reach of SA-GAP to livestock producers, and increased the number of Value Chain Industry Roundtables to support RAAVC and APAP (Aquaculture, Fruit and Wine). The SA-GAP certification programme concluded pre-audits on seven farms in Western Cape, North West and Gauteng, while final certification audits were concluded on four farms in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Free State and Gauteng. DAFF implemented the strategy on support and development of small and medium agro-processing enterprises by providing training in collaboration with the SABS on basic food management.

Negotiations were in progress for Continental FTA, the Tripartite FTA, and WTO (DOHA) multilaterals, SACU, EU EPA review finalised (increased quota for wine, sugar and tariff reduction for flowers). DAFF facilitated bilateral and multilateral engagements through BNCs, TMCs, as well as visits by the Minister and Deputy Minister and participated in multilateral fora. DAFF finalised the Rebirth of National Fresh Produce Markets Project and created partnership with COGTA to refurbish markets.

Regarding the AGOA Trade, the deadline of 31 December 2015 passed without agreement. An agreement was reached on 6 January 2016 on the three meats. A proclamation was made by the USA not to suspend agricultural imports. It had been extended to 15 March 2016 when the first consignment would have reached South Africa. DAFF would allocate and administer the 65 000 tons quota – a minimum of 50% would go to HDIs. The agriculture sector had a saving of $5 715 891 (107 000 tons of citrus), macadamia nuts, wine and other food products.

The implications of the concessions are that the EU and other partners may require equal treatment, which would require re-adjustment of the current agreements with trading partners.

On the Farm Together programme, SMMEs, cooperatives/rural enterprises are being supported with capacity to improve operational efficiencies and managerial ability. Programmes developed in this regard include the Farm Together agricultural cooperative training, business planning for agri-enterprises and the agri-appraisal tool.

DAFF had got a joint ICT cellular project with Vodacom to improve access market information for fishing communities. The project is to be rolled-out to the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape. The AGRIBEE Sector Codes have been realigned to meet the revised DTI BEE Codes

Programme 5: FNRM

Seven provinces had declared drought under NDMC and PDMC. Provinces used R113 million from their equitable share to assist and DAFF provided interim feed aid for livestock of smallholders to the tune of R226 million using CASP. DAFF JOC has been established and coordinated weekly. Facilitation has been done with IDC and Land Bank on rescheduling of loans. The impact on the commercial sector is becoming very acute.

The FNRM had facilitated the registration of Fire Protection Associations (FPAs) in high-risk areas.

DAFF has also embarked on the process of consolidation of non-viable FPAs and alignment of FPAs with municipal boundaries to ensure effective utilisation of limited resources.

DAFF– in collaboration with the FAO - successfully hosted the World Forestry Congress, the first in Africa, in September 2015.

Some DAFF plantations had been transferred to communities Concerning the Transfer of Mbazwana Manzengwenya plantations to Tembe, Mbila and Mabaso communities, the KZN Provincial Department of Education has committed to absorb the 156 employees currently working at the plantations. 835,06 ha have been replanted within the Jobs Fund/DAFF Rehabilitation Programme.

Programme 6: Fisheries

The Minister has finalised appeals in 7 of the 2013 Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP 2013) and would finalise the appeal in the one outstanding sector, namely line fish, by the end of February 2016. DAFF was busy with the Fishing Rights Allocation Process 2015/16 (FRAP 2015/16), in terms of which rights would be allocated in 10 commercial fishing sectors, as well as to Fish Processing Establishments (FPEs). To this end, the DAFF has finalised the 10 Sector-Specific Fisheries Policies; the 11 Sector Application Forms and the schedule of fees through a public consultation process. A total of 16 744 application forms were distributed via 32 centres throughout the country during 23 November–11 December 2015. The DAFF has already commenced with the collection and receipting of these application forms.

On fishing harbours, the DAFF, in partnership with the National Department of Public Works, has developed a framework aimed at revitalising the 12 existing fishing harbours and a programme for the proclamation and establishment of additional fishing harbours.

DAFF was also busy with the implementation of nine Aquaculture Projects under Phase 2 of Operation Phakisa (Developing the Ocean’s Economy). The draft Aquaculture Bill has been through the Socio-Economic Impact Assessment System tool (SEAIS), and was now ready for public consultations. The DAFF had further established the Inter-Departmental Authorisations Committee and the Aquaculture Development Fund.

DAFF had a fleet of 7 vessels: 5 patrol vessels and 2 research vessels. This fleet was currently being managed by the South African Maritime Safety Association (SAMSA). All the patrol vessels and one research vessel were active and at sea. The repairs on the FRS Africana are nearing completion and she should shortly be ready for extensive sea trials. The repairs on the FRS Africana are on-going. The first sea trial which took place in November did not have good results due to systems failure in the vessel. The replacement of parts was done December/January and the ship would undertake the sea trial during the first week of February. These repairs were nearing completion and she should shortly be ready for research again.

(Graphs and tables were shown to illustrate budget allocation and expenditure)

Briefing on progress on the Implementation of 2015/16 SONA Plans

On 50 projects completed to secure tenure, acquire equity and reduce poverty, 27 proposals have been received from commercial farmers. All Four Farms have been approved to date and 3 already transferred and allocated to farm workers:

  • - Farm Diamond, FS: Farm Workers in a shareholding arrangement.
  • Birbury, EC: Farm workers in a shareholding arrangement.
  • Free State; Kalkput, Free State;
  • 9 proposals are undergoing assessment: due diligence, tenure rights enquiries, household / socio-economic profiling

Farm workers are trained in different fields in other 50/50 farms:

  • Westclif of KZN on sugar, timber and vegetable production;
  • Omnia Farms on Fertiliser, Finance and Technical services.
  • Solms Delta in Western Cape, Cape Winelands District on wine
  • Birbury in Eastern Cape Initial orientation in terms of business management / co-operative management has been done.

Regarding Agri-Parks established in 27 priority districts, District Agri-parks Management Councils (DAMC) and National Agri-parks Advisory Councils (NAAC) have been established. Business plans are developed to guide investment and programme implementation for the medium and long term:

  • 34 Draft business plans completed by 15 December 2015.
  • 2 have been completed by Municipalities (Uthukela and Sekhukune)

Stakeholder and Community mobilisation had been completed and the Governance structures were launched on 11 December 2015. It was estimated that 89 000 jobs could be created over the next three years if business plans were fully implemented. Implementation: 5 Agri-hubs in 5 provinces:

  1. Eastern Cape: Ncora Dairy completed with 1200 head capacity on 300ha. There are 36 smallholder farmers and 60 jobs have been created.
  2. North West : Silos with 50 000 tons of capacity were renovated. Foodbank, mill, admin facilities are being finalised. There150 smallholder farmers and 55 jobs were created in construction.
  3. MPumalanga: Nkangala (Kameelpoort A) fresh produce market 80% complete. Bushbuckridge: Maize mill structure completed. 25 jobs created in construction.
  4. Western Cape: Cape wine lands: Bulk energy infrastructure under construction. 16 jobs created in construction.
  5. Gauteng Province: West Rand: 1200m fencing, 20 production tunnels, boreholes, packaging facility, office block with workshop; Sedibeng: Production tunnels & pack house. 30 jobs created in construction.

With regards to increasing market access on AFF products:

  • 103 black farmers trained; 22 farms audited and 12 (5 women and 7 male) certified for the SA-GAP program.
  • trade agreement to export 110 million litres of wine into the EU, preferential market access; (up from 47 million litres);
  • trade agreement to export 150 000 tons of sugar (from zero baseline) into the EU, duty-free
  • 80,000 tons of ethanol (from zero baseline), preferential market access, exported to EU
  • DAFF signed a MOU with Tiger brand in June 2015 on an off take agreement for the procurement of grains and vegetables, from Smallholders.

Concerning infrastructure development for agricultural sectors and regions with high productive potential, there were 26 SIP 11 anchor projects; of which 4 had commenced with construction; 5 were at post feasibility phase and the rest were either at concept or feasibility phases. 43,487 jobs were created. There were insufficient funds and there was a need to further integrate and focus on anchor or high impact projects.

About new or unemployed graduates appointed and allocated to farms; plants and depots, 131 Veterinarians were deployed to provinces. 22 Graduates deployed to sector organisations and companies. 25 Graduates deployed with Perishable Product Export Control Board (PPECB). 175 graduates have been recruited and deployed to 120 farms and 175 jobs created.

On the 1 million hectares of underutilised land in communal areas under production, 6,803ha of underutilised land put under production in both communal areas and Land Reform projects. 5,294ha have been rehabilitated for production. 7,502 smallholders were supported and 8 796 jobs were created. 141 projects have been completed. 3,526 Smallholder farmers got supported and 1356 jobs created. 6474 Hectares supported. Investment is estimated to be around R203,7m.

Well trained equipped extension support practitioners were appropriately placed with various commodity industries. R343 mill was allocated for extension services. 107 were trained on Technical Skills (e.g. Aquaculture extension, indigenous plants) and 207 were trained in ICT skills including Digital Pen training. 15 extension personnel were placed in various commodity industries. This has improved skills of 307 extension officers.

Discussion

Mr N Paulsen (EFF) asked what the set target was for previous years seeing that the initiative of putting 120 000 ha under production would not be achieved this year due to drought and wanted to know what had been achieved since then before the drought arrived.

Mr Mannya replied that a model was being looked into in order to improve the production and productivity of land planted. This required partnership between various stakeholders. Some of these communal land problems had been resolved with traditional leaders, communities, and private sector companies.

Ms A Steyn (DA) remarked that the Committee had never received full details about where the AgriParks were going to happen and what the impact of drought would be on them. She further asked how the problem of land security was going to be resolved because companies like Grain SA would like to help and have made commitments. Also, she wanted to find out why the Department took three to four days to resolve fire problems in some drought-stricken district municipalities. Lastly, she enquired why sick leave and leave costs were going up every year.

Mr Mannya, on AgriParks, said a full presentation would be made to the Committee, and added that farmers in areas with AgriParks would be given support. About land security, he stated that discussions were being held to review the model.

The Minister, regarding veld fires, explained it was important to put resources where they were needed the most. There was also a problem of invasive alien vegetation. Farmers should organise themselves and set up ways of dealing with fire problems. They were welcome to phone the Department if there was something affecting them. Those who got help phoned to thank the Department.

Mr Sipho Ntombela, Deputy Director-General: Corporate Services, DAFF, addressed the question about sick leave and leave costs. He explained that Persal was able calculate what it meant to take leave, taking into account a person’s income. He said when “you are on leave, you are not working but you continue to get paid. When your leave days are not taken, you lose them”. That is what accounted for those costs. They continued to rise every year.

Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) wanted to know about the whereabouts of the 9 aquaculture projects. She further asked when was the split going to be announced between small-scale fisheries and commercial farmers. Lastly, she wanted clarity on a model to be adopted for small-scale fisheries cooperatives.

The Minister, concerning aquaculture projects, replied that those with detailed plans would be made available to the Committee. 9 were in operation and funding for them had been set aside. One successful project was happening at Hamburg in Peddie and the processing was done in East London. The produce was sold by one restaurant in Cape Town. On the announcement of the split, he said the Equality Court binded the Department to implement the split between smallholders and commercial farmers but it did not decide on the date. The Minister decided this. This also depended on the availability of the bucket of species. On the model for small-scale cooperatives, he said there was a model that existed and it would be shared with the Committee.

Mr C Maxegwana (ANC) wanted to find out if the Department had set targets for gender distribution so as to close the gap and make it 50/50 or 60/40, with females sharing the big slice of the pie. He further remarked that it was not healthy for a Department to run without a DG. Lastly, he wanted more clarity on veterinary graduates.

Mr Mannya, about gender distribution, indicated that efforts were being made to up the number of women in order to change the scenario and meet equity targets. Concerning the appointment of a DG, he said advertisements were published. One person was appointed but there were other problems that presented themselves. The cabinet, therefore, agreed to re-advertise the post.

The Minister, on veterinary graduates, explained that every veterinary science student who attended a South African university had to do a compulsory community service before taking up a full-time job. Some were being placed in rural areas to serve the remote areas. Mobile clinics were also provided to those remote areas.

Ms T Tongwane (ANC) wanted to know what was going to happen if the trial of the Africana vessel was not satisfactory, and she asked why Egyptian authorities rejected South African fish products.

Mr Mannya replied that the vessel was not at sea currently. The debate was on whether to sell it or buy another one. On the rejection of fish products, he explained that the National Regulator was looking into the matter. It was just a question of SA meeting the Egyptian exporting requirements. A written response would be sent to the Committee.

Mr H Kruger (DA) wanted to know if commercial farmers were going to benefit from the R260 million drought relief for smallholder farmers and asked how much each province was going to be allocated.

The Minister explained that besides the CASP allocation, provinces added their own funds. Provinces indicated that farmers who were on the database would get help. Commercial farmers would also get assistance but there were terms and conditions set by the IDC and Land Bank. There was no intention to exclude them. Talks were already happening with the CEO of the Land bank on how to go about this. The Minister further said there were funds under CASP/Letsema to assist smallholder farmers. Provinces had been advised to use 20% of these funds to provide support to smallholders. The Land Act of 1913 left blacks with 13% of dry arable land. Black farmers were sharing 13% of degraded land. Commercial farmers had their own systems when it came to finance. The IDC had funds to assist smallholder farmers.

Mr M Filtane (UDM) asked what the Department was doing to assist farmers with electricity supply and if there were available alternatives in place.

Mr Mannya stated that the Department was in talks with the Department of Energy for farmer assistance and to make sure they used alternative supplies of energy. The challenges were around the theft of solar panels.

The Chairperson wanted to know how the problem of communal land was going to be addressed seeing that 1 million hectares of rural land was not used and that this land was under the traditional leaders. She also asked how the staff representation shown by the Department was going to help the Committee. She further asked about where agro-processing was implemented, and how many applications had been received so far for the allocation of fishing rights. Lastly, she asked how many graduates were not attached to the agricultural programmes.

The Minister, regarding the 1 million ha of unused land, explained that he had held a meeting with chiefs and kings. In the Pondoland area, a big piece of land was not used. 800 hectares had been planted already. There had been a joint effort between Kellog and the community. There was a buy-in from chiefs. It was a success story. Kellog worked with the communities. Some of the land had been fenced and there were access roads that had been opened.

Mr Mannya, about staff representation, said employment equity dealt with race distribution. It was the requirement of the Employment Equity Act. The demographics should reflect national demographics. That was why the pie chart was shown to the Committee. On agro-processing implementation, he reported that this remained a challenge for the Department. The Department of Trade and Industry seemed to be the one with the mandate for funding. The agro-processing plan had been provided to provinces to guide the smallholders on agro-processing and implementation. So much could be done and there had been success stories in Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape.

A DAFF official, on FRAP applications received, reported that 1644 forms had been distributed.  The receipting period had been extended and would close on 26 February 2016. Concerning the graduates, she said that the Department iwa currently building a database. The numbers would be forwarded to the Committee.

The Minister promised to send the Committee information regarding the drought tolerant maize. The drought had affected the input costs of the farmers. There were lessons learnt from the drought. For instance, when the seed of the drought tolerant maize was sent overseas for blending, it came at a very high price when it came back. The Department was encouraging farmers to move into conservation methods.

The meeting was adjourned.

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