Department Strategic Plan & Budget: briefing

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


18 March 2003

Mr N Masithela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Presentation by Department on Strategic Plan
Programme 2 - Farmer Support and Development
Programme 3 - Trade and Business Development
Programme 4 - Economic Research and Analysis
Programme 5 - Agricultural Production
Programme 6 - Sustainable Resource Management and Use
Programme 7 - National Regulatory Services
Programme 8 - Communication Planning and Information Management
Estimate of National Expenditure 2003/04
Agriculture and Land Affairs Budget 2003: Vote 26 - programmes and allocations

The Committee was briefed on the Department's Strategic Plan and planned expenditure for 2003/04. The Strategic Plan was a comprehensive response to attaining the vision of "A united and prosperous agricultural sector". In addition, the Department outlined the strategies to be employed in supporting farmers to ensure their continual development. The Minister addressed the Committee, explaining that the period 1999 to 2004 is a period of consolidation and acceleration of delivery. The Department was being guided by the challenge of addressing poverty and inequality.

Ms B Njobe: Director-General, Department of Agriculture, introduced the Strategic Plan of the Department of Agriculture. The Strategic Plan was a comprehensive response to attaining the vision of "A united and prosperous agricultural sector" and was the result of a long and complex process of inputs and comments with various professionals. (Please refer to the PowerPoint presentation.)

Farmer Support and Development
Mr M Mbongwa, Deputy Director-General: Economics and Business Development, presented the strategies to be employed in supporting farmers to ensure their continual development. Agricultural support services were viewed as especially important with regard to new farmers and in order to promote stability, competitiveness, growth and transformation in agriculture. This would be done by policy development in the areas of farmer settlement, food security, rural development, cooperative registration and risk and disaster management. (Please refer to the attached document.)

Trade and Business Development
Mr P Swart, Assistant Director-General: Trade and Business Development, presented the objectives to develop policies controlling access to national and international markets and to promote black economic empowerment. (Please refer to the PowerPoint presentation.)

Economic Research and Analysis
Mr J Tube, Assistant Director-General: Agricultural Research and Economic Analysis, explained the importance of agricultural statistics and economic analysis as tools to be used for effective planning, implementation and support initiatives. (Please refer to the PowerPoint presentation.)

Agricultural Production
Dr I Lusunzi, in his capacity as Acting Assistant Director-General: Agricultural Production, explained that this was a newly-established sector whose focus was to promote productivity and sustainability in agriculture by providing appropriate information and technology. (Please refer to the PowerPoint presentation.)

Sustainable Resources Management and Use
Dr I Lusunzi, in his capacity as Assistant Director-General: Sustainable Resources Management and Use, presented the objectives to develop, implement and monitor policies for the management and use of land and water resources and for research in agriculture. (Please refer to the PowerPoint presentation.)

National Regulatory Services
Dr M Mogajane, Assistant Director-General: National Regulatory Services, presented on the objectives to develop and monitor policies with respect to the control of animal and plant diseases, food safety and the use of genetically modified organisms. (Please refer to the PowerPoint presentation.)

Communication and Information Management
Mr Z Pinda, Assistant Director-General: Communication and Information Management, presented this as a support programme to other programmes with objectives to manage and coordinate communication, education and international relations. (Please refer to the PowerPoint presentation.)

Estimate of National Expenditure 2003/04
Mr T Marais, Assistant Director-General: Financial Management, provided an estimate of expenditure in the Department of Agriculture for the year 2003/04. ADD MORE DETAILS

Please refer to the PowerPoint presentation.

Briefing by Minister
Minister of Agriculture, Ms T Didiza noted that the Department of Agriculture was guided by the challenge to address poverty and inequality. This was to be done through a partnership between civil society and business to change life for the better. The period from 1994 to 1999 was used to review agricultural policy and the period from 1999 to 2004 is a period of consolidation and acceleration of delivery. She explained that without healthy, well-fed citizens, one could not deal with economic goals and that food security was a focus of government in order to bring a better life for all. She stressed the important role of information and that, apart from civil servants, the capacity and employment conditions of farmworkers should be built to increase levels of productivity.

She also stressed the importance of Black Economic Empowerment and the need to ensure that it was reflected in ownership patterns. There are expectations from previously disadvantaged individuals (PDI) in the agricultural sector and although there was an element of fear in the South African commercial farming sector, the sector does support change. When considering how to effect change she noted that sacrifices should be made in order for the agricultural sector to make an impact. She also spoke of the need of increasing the number of previously disadvantaged individual farmers to correct their skewed participation in agriculture and that if this was not done, then the agricultural sector would still reflect the imbalances of the past.

She mentioned that the budget for the Department of Agriculture sought to deal with these issues in order to create South Africa that is aspired to. In conclusion, she identified the need to understand the societal contradictions that is still present in South Africa in order to find solutions to challenges facing the Department of Agriculture.

Rev M Chabaku (ANC) thanked the Director-General for the exceptional summary of the different programs and suggested that reports are given on a quarterly basis in order for it to be easily digested.

Ms Njobe replied that future presentations could be summarised in an executive summary.

The Chairperson, Mr Masithela, strongly requested Members to speak about the budget and nothing else.

Dr E Schoeman (ANC) commented that the increase in the budget did not reflect a true picture and that the value of the Rand in 1994/95 should have been used to see expenditure in real terms.

Ms Njobe replied that those calculations could be done.

Dr Schoeman asked if there would be a different approach to disaster management, if funds were being built for it and if that was not the case how would compensation take place.

Mr Mbongwa replied that it was envisaged that farmers, together with government, make small contributions into a fund that would act as a hedge against agricultural risks.

Minister Didiza added that certain interventions were necessary to see that farmers also gave input into disaster and risk management.

Adv S Holomisa (ANC) asked for elaboration on one of the intended outcomes of programme 6, being the provision of water to resource-poor farmers. He wanted to know if it would include water provision to communal areas and that if that was the case, he wanted an explanation of how would it be done.

Dr Lusunzi replied that irrigation was done in collaboration with different Departments within the provinces, mobilising their own institutions. He mentioned that collaboration was not happening at national level and that needed to be attended to.

Adv Holomisa asked if there was a food shortage in the country.

Minister Didiza replied that there was an issue of food distribution in the country, that food security was affected by high prices in the domestic market and that it was necessary to examine the needs of everyone.

Mr B Radebe (ANC) commended the expansionist budget. He noted the fact that South Africa had enough food but the fact that not everyone could afford it was a crisis on its own. He asked how it was possible for South Africa to produce food for the world if it could not produce for itself.

Mr Tube replied that more food was supplied than what was consumed and the problem was one of food affordability.

Ms Njobe added that because South Africa was a mixed economy, being both rich and poor, the issue of pricing was a big challenge. A range of policy interventions was being investigated for a more comprehensive approach to the matter.

Mr Mbongwa mentioned that the majority of people in South Africa did not have enough money to buy food and that that was the critical problem, one of access to food. He also mentioned that there was a need for price determination in order to stabilise the rise of staple food prices.

Rev P Moatshe (ANC) asked what the agreement was between the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the Department of Agriculture with regard to the transmission of diseases across the trans-frontier national parks.

Ms Njobe replied that the Department of Agriculture was engaging with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and neighbouring countries in order to manage disease control measures and that work needed to be done to improve strategies in that area.

Rev Moatshe asked for elaboration on what aquaculture was and which Department was responsible for it.

Ms Njobe explained that aquaculture was the farming of fish and that the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism retained the rights to fishing. However, that changes when something goes into production and it then becomes the domain of the Department of Agriculture. She also explained that strategies were being developed, as aquaculture was a new area.

Rev Moatshe said that he would have loved to hear more on Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) as he saw it as a great challenge. He also asked if there was any data on BEE in order to be informed of the very latest happenings with respect to BEE.

Ms Njobe replied that the Department of Agriculture was working hard to strive for BEE and to articulate concrete strategies. She also mentioned that data sets were available for scrutiny and that information gaps were in the process of being filled.

Mr R Nyakane (UDP) asked what measures were in place to effectively implement the training of existing new farmers.

Ms Njobe replied that there was a comprehensive human resources development strategy that focuses on critical skills. Farmers engage in mentoring themselves while others want to be paid for doing it. However, she believed that most farmers indicate a willingness to do mentorship programmes.

Mr Nyakane asked why was it that livestock development, with regard to programme 5, had its focus in the North West Province and Limpopo Province and asked what the Department of Agriculture had in mind in terms of policy formulation.

Ms Njobe replied that the focus was on the whole country and was led by the two provinces concerned.

Mr S Naicker (Special Delegate from KwaZulu-Natal) asked what the Department's position was with respect to land lying fallow and if there was a possibility of this land being leased.

Ms Njobe replied that she would not want to speculate about it, but added that scarce agricultural land should be guarded and that capacity to handle that was being built.

Mr Masithela said that due to time constraints another meeting would be held to follow through on any other matters that might arise.

The meeting was adjourned.


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