The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) briefed the Committee on its 2017/18 annual performance plan (APP), and the budget and plans to execute its priorities over the medium term from 2017 to 2019. The Committee Chairperson told the delegation that agriculture was a very important sector, and one million jobs had to be created by 2030, so this budget was crucial in contributing to that, and to alleviating poverty and unemployment.
An important point made by all the DAFF presenters, was that the Department was operating under severe budget cuts which would impact on the effective delivery of its plans and programmes.
The department identified three sector objectives which had informed its plans. These were improved food and nutrition security, job creation (500 000 targeted by 2019) and contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP). These objective would be would be achieved mainly by supporting small holder farmers, a reduction of households vulnerable to hunger, and stabilising and protecting abalone, hake and West Coast rock lobster stock levels.
The overall Departmental budget of R6.8bn was allocated to mainly agricultural production, health and food safety (R2.2bn), food security and agrarian reform (R1.9bn), fisheries (R482m), and forestry (about R1bn). Conditional grants to provinces amounted to R2.2bn, of which about 73% was allocated the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP), and about 23% to the Ilima/Letsema programme.
Committee Members asked why there was still such a large number of farms failing after being handed over to new owners - the farms were fully functioning at handover, but deteriorated over time. They felt that small scale farmers were not receiving adequate support from the DAFF, and that this contributed to the failure of farms. Questions were also raised on the lack of water rights for new farm owners, as the land rights they received often did not include any water rights and this impacted negatively on their success. Members wanted to know what methodology the Department used to allocate budgets to provinces, and how money was spent in the various programmes. There was extensive debate on fisheries, and the difficulty small scale fishers had in competing against the large corporations. Another important aspect raised was the Department’s interaction with the DRDLR (Department of Rural Development and Land Reform) on overlapping issues, and how this was being managed.
The Minister said the lack of budget would have a negative impact on service delivery, but that the DAFF was doing all it could to ensure important programmes were executed. He agreed that some farms were failing, and that more could be done to ensure better support for farmers. The DAFF was engaging with the Department of Water and Sanitation to address the issue of water rights not accompanying land rights. The allocation of budgets was done in consultation with StatsSA to ensure that identified poverty nodes in provinces received adequate funding and support.
The Chairperson welcomed the delegation from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), and said he was particularly pleased that Minister Senzeni Zokwana was present. Agriculture was a very important sector - one million jobs had to be created by 2030, so this budget was crucial in contributing to that and alleviating poverty and unemployment.
DAFF Annual Performance Plan
Mr Mike Mlengana, Director General: DAFF, briefed the Committee on the Department’s plans, focusing on six programmes - Administration, Fisheries, Forestry, Trade Promotion and Market Access, Food Security and Agrarian Reform, and Agricultural Production, Health and Food Security. These plans had been developed in conjunction with the provinces, state owned entities (SOEs) and industry stakeholders. Plans were guided by the National Development Plan (NDP), and a crucial aspect was to have an integrated outcome by having all stakeholders working together at inter-departmental, provincial and public-private partnership level.
The key sector bbjectives, aligned with government polices, emanating from these co-ordinated plans were:
Improved food and nutrition security;
Creation of jobs;
Increasing the sector contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP).
Six target areas had been identified to contribute to the achievement of these objectives:
supporting about 300 000 smallholder producers by 2019;
to increase jobs to about 500 000 by 2019 (towards the one million target by 2030);
to reduce households vulnerable to hunger to 9.5% by 2019 (11.3% in 2015, accord to StatsSA);
an increased contribution of processed products to manufacturing, by 1% annually (5% in total by 2019);
increased stock levels of abalone, West Coast rock lobster and hake;
to reduce risks associated with climate change (DAFF Climate Change Risk Mitigation Strategy).
The Committee was then briefed on the various Departmental programmes, and some of the important indicators and outcomes at national and provincial level were:
Programme 1: Administration.
Efficient and effective risk management by implementing the risk management plan.
Develop an information communication technology (ICT) disaster recovery plan to ensure information integrity.
Programme 2: Agricultural Production, Health and Food Safety.
Conduct a number of planned plant pest risk surveillances (exotic fruit fly).
Conduct planned animal disease risk surveillances, including foot and mouth disease and the peste des petits ruminants virus.
Programme 3: Food Security and Agrarian Reform
Support 52 480 households with food production initiatives, the major provincial support being in Mpumalanga (28%), Free State (24%) and Limpopo (19%).
Implement livestock skills and knowledge upgrading programme (255 graduates placed in DAFF sectors for capacity development every year up to 2019, 20 extension support practitioners deployed to help communities, increasing to 60 by 2019)
Programme 4: Trade Promotion and Market Access
Train 14 to 18 agro-processing entrepreneurs, establish about 12 to16 commodity-based cooperatives, and develop regulations for AgriBEE (black economic empowerment) enforcement, and implement and enforce by 2018.
Programme 5: Forestry and Natural Resources Management
Rehabilitation of about 16 000 hectares of land per annum -- 19% in North West and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), 18% in the Free State, and 12% in the Eastern Cape.
Programme 6: Fisheries
Allocate commercial fishing rights and manage the appeals process, allocate rights in the abalone and West Coast rock lobster sector, and implement the small scale fisheries policy, including support and monitoring of small scale fisheries cooperatives.
Mr Mlengana said that due to severe budget cuts, the overall departmental budget of R6.8bn was far too low to enable the DAFF to execute its programmes satisfactorily. A large amount of this budget was transferred to entities under the DAFF’s control and to provinces, leaving very little at the national level. The Department would appreciate any help from the Committee to alleviate the problem created by the budget cuts. As an example, he said that the forestry budget was only about R1bn, and not enough to roll out departmental programmes effectively to manage this critical resource. Only about 47% of this amount would be directly spent on forestry operations.
Mr Mooketsi Ramasodi, Deputy Director General (DDG): Agricultural Production, Health and Food Security, commented on the budget for two programmes. He said the budget for Agricultural Production, Health and Food Security had been reduced significantly to about R2.2bn. This was largely spent in four areas. 44% went to agricultural research through the Agricultural Research Centre (ARC), 28% to plant production and health, 17% to inspection and laboratory services and about 10% to animal production and health. The budget for Trade Promotion and Market Access was about R261m, and was one the least funded Departmental programmes. Most of the allocation went to international relations and trade (46%), cooperatives and rural enterprises (27%), and 24% was earmarked for agro-processing and marketing.
Mr Bonga Msomi, Acting DDG: Food Security and Agrarian Reform, briefed the Committee on two programmes. He said the budget for Food Security and Agrarian Reform was R1.9bn, of which almost 70% would be spent on food security programmes, and about 19% on extension support services. The budget for conditional grants allocated to provinces for land reform programmes was about R2.2bn, and the majority (73%) was targeted at the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP). About 23% was earmarked for Ilima/Letsema and a small percentage (3%) for poverty relief and infrastructure development via the LandCare programme.
The allocation per province of the R2.2bn total was:
Eastern Cape - R327.2m (14.6%)
Free State - R237.6m (10.6%)
Gauteng - R118.9m (5.3%)
KZN - 228.9m (12.9%)
Limpopo - 320m (14.3%)
Mpumalanga - 214.2m (9.6%)
Northern Cape - 298.3m (13.3%)
North West - 240.4 (10.7%)
Western Cape - R195.9m (8.7%)
In respect of the CASP, the top three provinces being funded were the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the Northern Cape, which would all received about 15% of the R1.6bn budget. For Ilima/Letsema, the main spending would be in the Eastern Cape, KZN and Limpopo, with all receiving about 13% of the R522m budget. The LandCare programme would spend most of its budget in Limpopo, KZN and the Eastern Cape, with all receiving about 16% of the R74m budget.
Ms Siphokazi Ndudane, DDG: Fisheries Management, DAFF, said that the low Fisheries budget meant that it was difficult to effectively execute its programmes, despite the ability to generate some of its own funds via levies, permits and quota fees. The overall budget was about R482m, of which some 45% was funded by the department for salaries, while the rest was self generated. A consequence of this under-funding was that some programmes, like aquaculture, were severely hampered.
An important objective of the DAFF programmes was to create more jobs -- 500 000 by 2019, and one million by 2030. Some of the job creation targets in the various programmes were:
The creation of about 1 100 jobs a year in the refurbishment of government-owned forestry plantations -- 500 in KZN and the Eastern Cape, and 100 jobs in Limpopo.
The creation of about 13 855 jobs a year, increasing to 15 000 by 2019 through CASP, mainly in the Eastern Cape (4 230 jobs), KZN (6 436) and Mpumalanga (3 382).
The creation of 22 598 jobs in 2017/18, and then 10 000 a year until 2019, through Ilima/Letsema, mainly in Limpopo (9 856), the Western Cape (2 594) and Eastern Cape (1 886).
Mr C Smit (DA, Limpopo) was concerned that a large proportion of farming land handed over to new owners via the DAFF’s land restitution processes were failing, and asked what was being done to address this. What were the DAFF and Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) doing to ensure that programmes like the CASP stayed on track? How did the co-ordination at the provincial level work? He was concerned about the quality of the DAFF’s expenditure, and felt that it was merely targeted the monetary amounts being spent in its programmes, rather than ensuring that the budgets were spent effectively, and with proper controls.
Ms E Prins (ANC, Western Cape) was concerned about the budget cuts and how they would affect the Department’s programmes and their long term viability, especially in agriculture and fishing. She requested feedback on how the DAFF ensured that the extension support officers provided the necessary support to farming communities. Based on her experience and interaction with constituents in her area, this programme was not effective. She was especially concerned about the state of fishing in the Western Cape, especially on the West Coast, where communities were battling to make ends meet. It seemed as if the DAFF programmes were aimed mainly at supporting large companies at the expense of smaller fishing communities.
Ms C Labuscagne (DA, Western Cape) raised similar concerns, emphasising her concern about the fisheries in the Western Cape, especially the lack of progress on aquaculture, the level of service of extension support officers, and the processes and management to ensure provincial budgets were spent appropriately.
Mr J Julius (DA, Gauteng) was concerned about the low level of the Provincial Conditional Grants (only about 5% of the R2.2 bn) to Gauteng. He wanted to know how DAFF determined the allocations per province. A further concern was the lack of economic benefits and opportunities on the West Rand emanating from DAFF policies. He cited the closure the Agricultural College and the area’s lack of access to market its agricultural produce, and wanted to know what could be done to revitalise this area.
Mr J Parkies (ANC, Free State) was concerned about Departmental skills and training programmes at colleges. These were endorsed by the Department, and produced graduates with diplomas, but Departmental job adverts often called for applicants to have Masters or PhD qualifications. He wanted to know what the DAFF was doing to rectify this mismatch.
The Chairperson raised a concern regarding the land rights that were transferred to new farm owners without the corresponding water rights. This often resulted in the failure of newly acquired farms for communities. Something urgent had to done to address this.
Minister Zokwane responded to all the questions in general terms, and advised the Chairperson and Committee Members that if they wanted further clarification, the Department would respond in writing with more detail on questions asked. This was agreed by all.
He said that the Department was doing it best to execute its programmes and contribute to Government priorities with the reduced budget. He was equally concerned about the failure of allocated farms, and said it would be addressed by his Department. There were many factors contributing to the failure of farms, and the DAFF programmes supporting farmers would have to be strengthened going forward to rectify this, including ensuring that extension support practitioners were adequately trained to provide the correct support as envisaged.
Regarding the concern raised about the West Rand, he said the DAFF would meet with the stakeholders concerned to address the problems raised. He encouraged Mr Julius to contact the DG, so that early action could be taken.
The allocation of provincial grants was done in conjunction with other government departments, and poverty nodes as identified by StatSA played a big role in finalising numbers, such as the 5% to Gauteng.
On the issue of land rights being transferred to new owners without water rights, he agreed that it was a big problem, contributing to the challenges faced by new land owners. The DAFF was working with the Department of Water and Sanitation to address the issue.
He agreed that much needed to be done to stabilise and provide better support for small scale fisheries and manage the resources more effectively. The DAFF had plans in place to manage this, and he suggested the Committee could schedule a special meeting where the Department could give a more in-depth briefing on their programmes on fisheries.
Minister Zokwana said that it would be best for the Committee to convene a joint meeting with the DAFF and DRDLR to discuss and agree the way forward on responsibilities and accountability within each department, addressing grey areas and overlaps, such as programme transfers, and agree pn who did what and other related issues.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister and his team, and agreed that further meetings would be arranged for discussions, especially on fisheries and the co-ordination/relationship with the DRDLR.
There was agreement by all Members that the Committee had concluded its deliberations on the DAFF budget and APP.
The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting of 30 May 2017, with minor grammatical corrections.
The Committee’s programme for the rest of the term was agreed upon, as well as some of its plans for the third term.
The dates of 13, 20 and 27 June were set aside for public hearings on the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment (MPRDA) Bill.
In the third term, the Committee would discuss MPRDA mandates, finalise the Plant Bills with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), meet with theState Law Advisor on the MPRDA, and also meet with the Department of Mineral Resources to finalise the MPRDA.
The meetings was adjourned.
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