National Treasury and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) presented on the provincial agriculture grants. According to Treasury, the purpose of the Comprehensive Agricultural Support programme (CASP) was to facilitate agricultural development by targeting beneficiaries of land reform, restitution and redistribution, and other black producers who had acquired land through private means. Challenges included poor spending in agricultural colleges; poor planning in the provinces due to a lack of competent staff to manage the grant; drought; DAFF monitoring capacity, and lack of correspondence between transfer of funds to provinces and cash flow requirements in provincial business plans, which led to unspent funds. The purpose of the Ilima/Letsema projects grant was to assist vulnerable black farming communities to achieve an increase in agricultural production. Challenges included a lack of staff to manage programmes; drawn out procurement processes; drought, and non-attendance of training courses by beneficiaries. The purpose of the LandCare grant was to promote sustainable use and management of natural resources through community based activities. Challenges included delays in procurement processes; proliferation of alien invasive species, and regular requests to change project lists in the provinces.
DAFF said policy imperatives of CASP and Ilima/Letsema are to create 1 million jobs in terms of the NDP 2030 vision and to put one million hectares of unutilised land under production by 2019. CASP was reaching most of its target groups, but relatively few youth and disabled persons were involved in the programme. A challenge was that CASP had achieved little progress in promoting commercialisation, as only 33% of farms could be considered commercial. Both programmes were challenged in terms of supply chain management and procurement processes, and support to farmers was not comprehensive. The LandCare programme experienced challenges that included limited allocations in spite of more jobs created; insufficient funding for sub-programmes; the need for additional financing to address international obligations; and the fact that other government programmes duplicated the LandCare mandates and received more funding.
In discussion, Members had remarks and questions about cooperation between the DAFF and Rural Development and Land Reform; fluctuations in CASP spending, projects and beneficiaries; the movement of agriculture colleges from provincial to national; land restitution and land redistribution challenges; accounting for the movement of funds; monitoring and evaluation; education, training and skilling of farmers; land acquisition and rehabilitation; planning and staffing; enhancement of commercial farming; drought relief; agri science and research, and extension officers.
Introduction by the Chairperson
The Chairperson welcomed all and warned Members that there was legislation coming through from the Finance Standing Committee, which could mean that they would have to stay longer than 5 December. He welcomed National Treasury and The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). Members had received a research document relevant to the agenda of the day. The day before had been International Food Day and South Africa was one of 150 countries that celebrated it. Challenges of food supply in countries received attention. On the agenda for the day were presentations by Treasury and DAFF that spoke to the enhancement of food production. Apologies were received from Ms B Matevula (EFF; Limpopo), Mr L Gaehler (UDM; Eastern Cape) and Mr S Mohai (ANC; Free State). He welcomed the Minister, who had since entered the meeting.
Briefing by National Treasury on provincial agriculture grants
Ms Ogalaletseng Gaarekwe, Chief Director, National Treasury, said the purpose of the Comprehensive Agricultural Support programme (CASP) was to facilitate agricultural development by targeting beneficiaries of land reform, restitution and redistribution, and other black producers who had acquired land through private means. Challenges included poor spending in agricultural colleges; poor planning in the provinces due to a lack of competent staff to manage the grant; drought; DAFF monitoring capacity, and lack of correspondence between transfer of funds to provinces and cash flow requirements in provincial business plans, which led to unspent funds. The purpose of the Ilima/Letsema projects grant was to assist vulnerable black farming communities to achieve an increase in agricultural production. Challenges included a lack of staff to manage programmes; drawn out procurement processes; drought, and non-attendance of training courses by beneficiaries. The purpose of the LandCare grant was to promote sustainable use and management of natural resources through community based activities. Challenges included delays in procurement processes; proliferation of alien invasive species, and regular requests to change project lists in the provinces.
Briefing by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on the provincial agriculture grants
The briefing was presented by Ms Elder Mtshiza, Chief Director: CASP, DAFF, and Ms Lydia Bosega, Director: LandCare. Policy imperatives of CASP and Ilima/Letsema are to create 1 million jobs in terms of the NDP 2030 vision, and to put 1 million hectares of unutilised land under production by 2019. Since 2010/11, on average 31 945 farmers per year received support through CASP. The figure for Ilima/Letsema was 70 927 per year. CASP was reaching most of its target groups, but relatively few youth and disabled persons were involved in the programme. A challenge was that CASP had achieved little progress in promoting commercialisation, as only 33% of farms could be considered commercial. Both programmes were challenged in terms of supply chain management and procurement processes, and support to farmers was not comprehensive. The LandCare programme experienced challenges that included limited allocations to the programme despite more jobs created; insufficient funding for sub-programmes like conservation agriculture and junior care; the need for additional financial resources to address international obligations; and the fact that other government programmes duplicating LandCare mandates were given more funding.
DAFF Minister, Mr Senzeni Zokwana, commented that DAFF wanted to submit that there had not been enough success with contributing to black industrialisation, as only 33% of farms were commercial enterprises. The Auditor-General (AG) reported that there had to be better monitoring and evaluation and strategic realignment had to improve. The section devoted to CASP allocation had to be transformed and there was a monitoring and evaluation unit in the Department that could assist with that. Work had to be done with extension services. LandCare could be promoted through non-tillage, to prevent soil erosion through heavy rains, and to reduce the use of diesel and emissions. Vaccines had to be available at comparable prices. The National Market Council could assist small farmers and climate change could be dealt with through improved adaptation, science and technology.
The Chairperson remarked that the DAFF and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) must cooperate to support farmers to supply food to people. Skills and expertise were needed. The country needed an economic growth rate of 5% in terms of the NDP and a 3% growth rate was needed to even make a dent, and the growth rate was barely 1%. Allocated money had to be spent wisely. If one looked at the map of the N1 running from Cape Town to Musina, it was clear that the east of the country received more rain than the west.
Mr T Motlashuping (ANC; North West) referred to slide 7 of the CASP presentation that indicated spending percentages. It was 99.7% in 2015/16, and then dropped to 95.4% in 2016/17. He asked if the fluctuation was due to poor planning or unreasonable targets. In 2004/5, the number of projects came to 510. There were 46 500 beneficiaries. In 2016/17 there were 400 projects and 25 958 beneficiaries. It was stated on slide 13 that “on average” 31 945 farmers per year were supported through CASP. He questioned the use of the term. He asked Treasury why responsibility for agricultural colleges was taken from provincial to national. He asked if it had been because budgets were not spent adequately.
Ms T Motara (ANC; Gauteng) noted that DAFF, Treasury and the Minister had alluded to monitoring challenges and this needed to improve. CASP targeted beneficiaries of land restitution and redistribution, but there were challenges adherent to those processes. She asked about consequences for CASP, and how it related to Rural Development and Land Reform. There had to be a high level analysis of the process for those who acquired land by private means. She asked how Ilima beneficiaries were identified. With reference to LandCare, she asked if rehabilitation from floods were accounted for at the municipal level. KZN had disaster management centres at national, provincial and local level. She asked how funds were moved and who accounted for what. There were a number of grants that cut across provinces and municipalities and she asked who accounted for and monitored those. She asked about the position of national treasury with regard to good monitoring and evaluation.
Mr O Terblanche (DA; Western Cape) told the Minister that food projects were close to his heart. During the provincial week the Committee was exposed to some projects and he was impressed with some of the projects. It was clear that large patches of land were not needed. The lesson to be learnt from Philippi was that whatever was done was adapted to local conditions. Water was recycled; there was an organic approach and agreements with markets like Woolworths. The junior care school in Worcester had its own vegetable garden. The question that was posed by Philippi was how many would be enabled to become independent farmers. There was a woman there who had received training and was ready to start her own enterprise. On the negative side, it turned out that there was not proper guidance for some projects, and a lack of proper training. People were left to their own resources. In the Eden district there was huge potential to root out black wattle, which could save water. He wished to congratulate the Minister and the Department, but more could be done. Agriculture could create jobs and establish food security. There was malnutrition in South Africa and DAFF needed a bigger budget.
The Chairperson told Mr Terblanche that he could tell that to the Finance Minister on 26 October, during the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).
Mr L Nzimande (ANC; KZN) commented that during the provincial week in KZN, the tea estate at Nkandla was visited. High quality tea was produced there; it was ranked third in the world. But there was under spending on the estate since 2012/13 and he asked Treasury about that. Fertilizers were stopped by the government, and there had been no LandCare since then. There was growth potential at Nkandla, with 600 hectares under production. 100 hectare plots were being made available to people by chiefs, but land was not taken care of and rehabilitated, and food security was not produced as intended. Land acquisition and appropriation was not proceeding satisfactorily, as lands were lying idle. Growth projections on the ground were needed. He asked the Minister about the rationale behind taking the agricultural colleges to national level. He asked if that could assist CASP and other grants. He asked if the migration to national would affect easy access. Learning packages had to be created for people who were not headed for large scale commercial farming. There had to be skilling and artisanry. Learning packages had to be intended especially for beneficiaries of CASP. There was competition between economic development and land zoned for agriculture.
Mr F Essack (DA; Mpumalanga) referred to the last bullet point on slide 7 of the Treasury presentation. The transfer of funds to provinces did not correspond with the activities and cash flow requirements in the business plan, hence the significant unspent funds in provincial bank accounts. The same statement was made on slide 19. He asked how the matter would be attended to. The third bullet on slide 7 stated that poor planning in provinces resulted in poor performance due to a lack of competent and dedicated staff to manage the grant. He commented that it could cause serious problems in the following quarter. He referred to bullet three on slide 31. The DAFF capacity for monitoring had to be enhanced to identify weaknesses and support service delivery in provinces. Funds were allocated to the DAFF to enhance capacity, but little progress had been made with filling posts. He asked about outcomes on the way forward.
The Chairperson referred to slide 20 of the CASP presentation. He asked what was being done to enhance commercial farming. He asked why LandCare groups were not supported in all provinces. There was duplication of programmes in some departments and he asked if government was being effective. The Minister had to evaluate drought relief programmes rolled out in the provinces. Northern Cape was the largest province and service providers employed in drought relief had to travel up to 900 km. There had to be regional decentralisation. The size of the province and the type of vehicles used had to be taken into account, because the vehicles used were not fit for use on gravel roads. There were tea plantations in the northern part of the Eastern Cape in the late 1980s. There was great potential. The problem with the Nieuwoudtville tea projects was to get the project on the shelves. Something was being done wrong, as there was huge potential. Nature conservation and LandCare had to be interlinked in cooperation with rural development.
The Minister responded that he was happy with what Mr Terblanche had said, and agreed that there was still a long way to go. He conceded that the AG was critical of monitoring and evaluation of CASP. For farmers to become independent there had to be partnership with major food chains like Pick ‘n Pay. Quality of products had to be guaranteed.
On monitoring, the Minister said DAFF could be more linear and focused with four Deputy Director-Generals (DDGs) instead of eight. On land reform and restitution, he said DAFF and DRDLR had to deal with the way in which land was sold to government. Farms had to be received in operational form; a livestock farm had to have 400 head of cattle on it. The current Act addressed private acquisition. When there were climate change challenges, local government had to declare a disaster area. The President could pass a decree that when adverse conditions due to climate change was foreseen, small-scale farmers could cull animals. They could sell cattle and put money in the bank, and buy back when the climate became more suitable. Maize could be planted instead of sorghum. There were often big fires in the Western Cape and officials had to be trained in disaster management. Production of feed had to be promoted and the planting of grass could be promoted, instead of maize. DAFF and DRDLR could work together to create a one-stop funding model. Space had to be created for soft loans for small-scale farmers and other departments could be involved.
He agreed with Mr Terblanche that organic production was important. Worm farming and organic production had to be developed. Food security was highly important and 13.7% of South Africans went to bed without food. Asparagus was being planted in Quaqua; it was funded by government and accessed by small-scale black farmers. The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) owned land, and in the Eastern Cape people formed trusts, but the role of trusts had to be debated. When people formed a trust, the tendency was to lease the land, and not to use it productively. KZN had to deal with soil erosion when soil was washed away by heavy rains.
On the colleges, the Minister said one could ask what the problem was if a college only spent 20% of funds. It had to be asked what kind of syllabus a college was offering. It had to assist small-scale farmers and funding was needed, as colleges were run down. The question was if provinces could run colleges on its own. There had to be partnership, because DAFF could not deal with it on its own. There had to be standards applicable in all areas and funding had to be accounted for. There was a college in Middelburg that was established in 1911 that maintained good standards. He spoke to the principal, who assured him that government resources were available for employment of youth. There was a shortage of arable land and agriculture had to compete with mining and development. Land that was lost was hard to get back and drought relief had to be evaluated. There were problems that could not be discussed, as it was sub judice. Rural Development was saying that the challenge was that people were making money for themselves. People were sold Lucerne at R1v000 per bale whereas in his area the price was R80 or R90 per bale. Monitoring and evaluation of that had to be improved.
The Chairperson noted that the recap function was shifted from Rural Development to Agriculture, but funding did not move along with that.
Ms Mtshiza responded to Mr Motlashuping about fluctuations in the number of projects and beneficiaries related to CASP. In the beginning the CASP scope was too wide. Only R200 million was available and there were 46 000 beneficiaries. Resources were spread too thinly. DAFF had to join forces with Treasury to help farmers to break even. It had to be known what resources farmers needed to enable them to produce food. There were farmers who had land but could not attract loan funding. DAFF brought infrastructure to stimulate productivity. Farmers had to be helped to access funding from the Land Bank. It was difficult when it was not a going concern that was supported. Support was expressed as an average because some projects were ongoing and it enabled DAFF to know how much money was required. The information management system had to be looked at, and actual bodies who received funds had to be talked to. It could be phrased as per year, if the term “average” was confusing.
On targeting land reform beneficiaries, she said the Minister had referred to concurrent functions in agriculture. There were standard operating procedures and availability of programmes had to be advertised so that people know what they can apply for. Resources were not sufficient to meet the demand out there. The Eastern Cape and the Western Cape could only respond to 20% of the need. Ilima had to address hunger and poverty. Vulnerable households had to be identified and community and school gardens had to be funded. Accountability started at provincial level, where there was a mandate to institute grants. When provinces needed additional services the PFMA had to be followed, business plans had to be outlined with monthly reports to Treasury. DAFF needed more monitoring capacity.
The problem with the Ntingwe tea estate was that it was government owned. When government resources were depleted, it prioritised the operations of the State, and business was not the primary concern. There was an excellent model in the Eastern Cape. DAFF wanted to share the Macadamia model with interested parties. There are 400 hectares under cultivation at Ntingwe, but workers only came to work when they wanted to, because they knew that it was a government entity, and they could not be kicked off the land. It could not attract private funding, as no bank would finance a government department, because government was not expected to run a business. The Ntingwe turnaround strategy was based on the fact that it was State owned, and value could not be opened up.
On commercial farms, Ms Ms Mtshiza said the weakness was that smallholders had a portion of the farm that was for subsistence, and a portion that was commercial. Only small injections were needed to remain sustainable. There was a need to consciously industrialise, but it could not be done if grant funding was not blended; 20% to 25% of CASP funds were earmarked so that funding could be blended with the Land Bank. The Land Bank was being engaged with about that modality and Treasury will make R100 million available. The model that DAFF proposed also spoke to Nieuwoudtville. The best rooibos tea in the world was grown there, but it was not right that it was State owned. The State did not market aggressively enough, which was why the tea was not available on shelves. There was good will to turn around the dying Nieuwoudtville community.
The Chairperson remarked that he was going there himself. He had had long conversations with the management and telephone meetings.
Ms Bosega responded to the question about who accounted for the movement of grant funds between national and provincial. There was a grant framework that set out the rules and responsibilities of each, and meetings with the provinces to validate reports submitted. DAFF LandCare interventions included encouraging provinces that did not have LandCare to use the Equitable Share (ES) to establish groups. LandCare groups formed the basis for monitoring on behalf of government. Communities had to work together in areas where there was drought relief. It could be pinpointed which farmers had lost livestock. DAFF worked with Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) to ensure that work on the ground proceeded cooperatively.
Ms Gaarekwe responded about the movement of colleges to national. TVET colleges were previously moved to national, and the movement of agricultural colleges was the next step. Provinces were only responsible for basic education. Agricultural colleges resided under higher education. CASP was a schedule 4 grant, supplemented by the ES. It was a sub- programme in some provinces, depending on how departments were structured. When provinces reported on the ES an anomaly could be seen. Some provinces supported more beneficiaries, but had fewer projects and it depended on how reporting on projects was structured.
The Minister thanked the Committee. He assured the Committee that commitments made by DAFF will be fulfilled. When South Africa was in a technical recession, the contribution of agriculture was only 3.6%. With more funds and personnel, poverty can be alleviated.
The Chairperson concluded that there would be a follow-up in the following year. There was a chicken farm near Warrenton, visited during the provincial week that was a big success. Research was needed in the areas of agri-science and mathematics. Young people in the various constituencies had to be spoken to, and told that they were needed. The role of extension officers was of great importance, because they occupied a position that could be a link between the farmer and the Farmers had to be educated and the district manager could have quarterly meetings with people to tell them what was happening in the Department.
Adoption of minutes
Minutes of 13 September was adopted without amendments.
Meeting was adjourned
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.