The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) allegedly misled former President Zuma by making him pronounce during the SONA 2017 that 450 black farmers would be commercialised during that year. The Minister of the Department told the Portfolio Committee this had resulted in the former President promising people something that was not achievable, and had raised the hopes of many. This issue came up during the debate when the DAFF was presenting its draft annual performance plan for the current financial year, in which it stated it was impractical to commercialise 450 farmers within a year because the process was involved and expensive. The 450 farmers would be commercialised over a five-year period, with 50 farmers from each province.
The DAFF reported that 255 graduates had been placed in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors for capacity development. The national policy on comprehensive producer development support had been tabled to the Cabinet. 94 460 households had been supported with agricultural food production initiatives; 110 319 of hectares had been planted for food production; 54 smallholder producers had been commercialised; 23 896 smallholder producers had been supported; and 20 extension support practitioners had been deployed to commodity organisations.
The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) briefed the Committee on the challenges facing the poultry industry. It reported that the outbreak of avian flu had resulted in a loss of revenue amounting to R954 million in an industry whose total value was R46 billion. Last year, the industry had shed 1 300 jobs due to the bird flu. There had been no new outbreaks on commercial farms since mid-January 2018. Some farms were in various stages of disposal, cleaning and disinfection. The process was taking time because the farmers had to make sure the virus was dead before new chickens were introduced into the facilities. The country was under surveillance to pick up any risks. The largest number of avian flu outbreaks on commercial farms and among wild birds had been reported in the Western Cape.
SAPA reported there had been a slow emergency disease response. A multi-disciplinary approach was required. There was limited capacity for disease monitoring and detection. There was a need to capacitate laboratory services in order to manage the virus better. There was also a lack of a favourable compensation policy, and this was having an impact on the re-stocking rate. It recommended that the importation of hatching eggs should be expedited, and that the compensation, and compensation guidelines, should be reviewed and finalised. Favourable consequential losses funding should be implemented, because losses were not covered in the compensation.
Members wanted to know when the DAFF would start to stabilise the poultry industry due to the impact of job losses. They asked for an update on the task team set up by the government to address the challenges faced by the industry. What were the consequences of an outbreak like avian flu on informal traders and the poultry sector, because most of the time the results of the disaster were looked at from the farmers’ point of view? How long would it take for the industry to recover if SA could not import eggs from other countries?
The Committee wanted to know how the Forum of Ministers got involved in the planning process of the DAFF; why the hectares for food production were decreasing; what the situation was regarding the status report on the residue monitoring of wild game to be presented to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union (EU); what impact testing had had on exports; what the capacity of the DAFF was to test produce coming into to SA, because it had been reported that less than 5% was tested; and whether it had plans in place to manage the “three devils” -- drought, army worm and avian flu.
South African Poultry Association (SAPA): Response to Avian Flu outbreak
Dr Charlotte Nkuna, Interim CEO: SAPA, said there had been a decline in the production of eggs and chickens, and South Africa was relying on imports. The laying hen flocks have been severely affected by Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreaks. There was a shortage of point-of-lay pullets in the market, especially for smallholder producers who do not place orders a year in advance.
Broiler imports had not changed compared to last year, despite not receiving anything from the EU because of Avian flu. SA received a lot of eggs from Brazil. SAPA was still in the process of compiling broiler production statistics.
SAPA, RCL Foods and Afgri Poultry had lodged an application in October 2016 to initiate a sunset review of anti-dumping duties on US bone-in imports. These anti-dumping duties were due to expire on 4 April 2017. On 24 March 2017, the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) had launched an inquiry and invited interested parties to comment. After reviewing all the comments, ITAC had found that the expiry of the anti-dumping duties was likely to lead to a recurrence of dumping and of material injury to the broiler industry. ITAC, therefore, had made a final recommendation to maintain the anti-dumping duties at 940 cents/kg for selected tariff codes. A US exporter challenged the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in the US. The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and SAPA had submitted inputs on the challenge.
The South African Customs Union (SACU) Council of Ministers had yet to meet to take a decision on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) safeguard. As the safeguard would apply to all the SACU countries, it was not simply a decision that affected South Africa. Although some EU countries were still under avian influenza trade restrictions, there were still some products arriving from Europe.
Dr Nkuna also talked about the desired short and long-term outcomes for the government led task team. The task team had to develop measures that would stabilise the industry and develop measures that would revitalise the industry. To stabilise the industry, they needed to create a framework that made exporters produce products for South Africa, and not simply dispose of stored waste. If they wanted to sell to SA, they had to be World Trade Organisation (WTO) and treaty compliant. Imports had to be reduced by at least half to ensure the industry’s survival, reinvestment and growth; food security; job creation; and rural development and transformation. Progress had been slower than desired.
Last year, the poultry industry had shed 1 300 jobs due to the avian flu. There had been no new outbreaks on commercial farms since mid-January 2018. Some farms were in various stages of disposal, cleaning, and disinfection. The process was taking time because the farmers had to make sure the virus was dead before new chickens were introduced in the facilities. Preparations for the 2018 winter season were not there yet because it was not known what was going to come this winter regarding the flu. The country was under surveillance to pick up any risks. The largest number of HPAI H5N8 outbreaks on commercial farms, and the highest number of wild bird outbreaks, had been reported in the Western Cape. Of the 87 outbreaks, 15 were in commercial chicken facilities, and 37 among wild birds.
Dr Nkuna referred to the challenges to deal with the avian flu, indicating there had been a slow emergency disease response. A multi-disciplinary approach was required. It was difficult to kill hundreds of birds within a day. Where they had managed to contain the virus, interventions had been quick due to the presence of veterinarians. She added that there was limited capacity for disease monitoring and detection. There was a need to capacitate laboratory services in order to manage the virus better. There was also the lack of a favourable compensation policy, and this was having an impact on the re-stocking rate and density. The lack of a comprehensive risk assessment capability had been identified as another challenge. Risk assessment capabilities were non-existent, and this affected a whole range of other areas. SAPA had approached the National Research Foundation (NRF) for a risk expert, but nothing had materialised so far because they were not happy with the proposed candidate.
She made a number of recommendations:
- To expedite the importation of hatching eggs.
- To review and finalise compensation, and compensation guidelines.
- To implement favourable consequential losses funding. Losses were not covered in the compensation. That was why there had been an engagement with the Land Bank and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
- To come up with a comprehensive disease control programme. Vaccination guidelines were not in place yet. Research had been done on available vaccine, but how it related to the virus was still unknown.
- To review and improve the emergency response. A meeting was scheduled for mid-February with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and producers on the outbreak’s response, especially disposal, killing, etc, to see what had worked and not worked.
- To develop a risk assessment and analysis capability. SAPA was trying to figure out if the virus was in ostriches, what the impact was going to be on chickens.
(Graphs were shown to illustrate the effect of the virus on egg production, producer and retail prices of eggs, egg and maize prices; broiler production and trade; Avian flu outbreak per province; biological loss and income foregone)
Mr M Filtane (UDM) asked what the poultry industry’s contribution was to the gross domestic product (GDP). He wanted to know when DAFF would start to stabilise the industry due to the impact of job losses, and asked for an update on the task team set up by the government regarding challenges faced by the poultry industry. He asked SAPA to comment on the impact of the imports from EU.
Dr Nkuna said that the 2016 figures showed that the industry was worth R46 billion, broilers being the biggest income generator in the industry. Currently, they were busy compiling an annual report to check the new figures. On stabilising the industry, she indicated the task team that was appointed to look into the matter had not met for a while. The dti was the convenor of the meetings. She also pointed out chicken imports came from the European Union (EU), but the EU was not treated as a country. Each country was treated as an individual. SA’s biggest sources used to be the United Kingdom (UK) and the Netherlands, but due to the avian flu, imports from these two countries had dropped. Now it was Belgium and Denmark that were the biggest sources of chicken.
The Acting DG responded on the task team, explaining that there were 26 tasks that were done by different departments. It was an issue of consolidation, and each task was at a different level. Parliament would be briefed on the progress of these tasks.
Mr H Kruger (DA) asked what the consequences of an outbreak like avian flu were on the informal traders and the sector, because most of the time they looked at the results of the disaster from the farmers’ point of view.
Dr Nkuna said they did surveys on a quarterly basis. The 2017 third quarter results indicated a drop in trading and an increase in diseases in winter. Now they were busy finalising the fourth quarter survey results and were expecting a continuation of the third quarter results.
Ms A Steyn (DA), asked how long would it take for the industry to recover if the SA could not import eggs from other countries, and what the impact would be. How much had been done in terms of risk and compensation and on monitoring the avian flu outbreak and other diseases that were mushrooming? Was it practical to halve imports and start exporting, though exports were dropping? Did the R954 million the industry had lost due to the outbreak include the cleaning of the facilities, culling and killing of the chickens? Lastly, she asked if SAPA was aware of any farmers that had gone bankrupt because of the outbreak, and what had been done to help them.
Dr Nkuna, regarding the industry’s recovery, pointed out that companies that had lost breeders would be at full capacity around June 2019. Farmers that got depopulated would still have to repopulate. The process was going to take time. On halving imports, she did not know if it was possible, but targets had been set and space set aside for new entrants. Those that were mainly affected were medium-sized enterprises.
The Acting DG added that in order to halve imports, the industry would have to increase production. There was drought and feed costs were very high, so it was important to massify food production.
Dr Ziyanda Majokweni, Director: Poultry Disease Management Agency: SAPA, said the R954 million figure the industry had lost included disposal costs, but the figure still needed to be reviewed because producers were still bringing in more information on disposal and other matters that had affected them. Concerning compensation and risk, she said there were challenges, though work had been done. The crux of the matter was that there were fundamentals that needed to be met. There were guidelines that had to be published, but the challenge was on the details that needed to be thoroughly reviewed on issues like compensation. Comments would be sought from the industry.
On farmers affected by the outbreak, information about available schemes to protect jobs, and on improving the skills set of employees and improving bio-security, had been communicated to farmers. There was a relief fund from the Landbank for farmers to take advantage of its benefits.
The Acting DG, on the capacity to monitor the outbreaks, said the DAFF was struggling to find a risk chairperson, because that individual had to be holistic in his/her approach for both plants and animals. Treasury had set aside money for risk capacity. He added the Department would comment on policies that looked at comprehensive risks for compensation. The government could not do all these things alone.
Mr P Maloyi (ANC) remarked that AGOA was creating a problem for the country, because imported chickens were being brought here in bulk, and it was not known which countries they were from. He wanted an update on the interventions SAPA had made regarding a number of chicken farms that were about to close down last year. He also wanted to know if SAPA interacted with the DAFF regarding challenges in the industry.
Dr Majokweni said they meet with DAFF on many technical aspects and strategic issues. Some of the issues were complex and solutions were not simplistic. The interaction was on-going. Concerning farms that were to close down, she said there were no farms that were closed down. Some farms were depopulated, while others could not repopulate due to unavailability of stock. Farmers that had stock continued to trade or carry on. What was problematic was the increasing price of feed.
The Acting DG added the Department had a programme to buy farms that were about to be closed down in the North West, to make sure they were productive. It was busy finalising the report, and this would be presented to Parliament.
Mr W Maphanga (ANC) asked what could be done to stop the import of chicken products from Europe, because they were also affected by avian flu. The country should consider improving on exports, which seemed to be dropping.
Dr Majokweni said SA had the lowest exports. The country was a net importer of chicken meat because South Africans eat more chicken. Parliament had indicated the country had to look at exporting some of its white meat.
Mr N Capa (ANC) asked if there was anything that SAPA felt Parliament had not done to resuscitate the situation.
Dr Majokweni indicated that interventions on compensation funds and schemes were important to influence the other stakeholders to support these interventions. The review of legislation around the management of diseases was also very important.
Mr A Madella (ANC) wanted to know what the impact of the outbreak had been on job losses. He also asked if there were any other options available, if hatching egg imports could not be obtained from Ireland. How could chickens from Brazil be prevented from being in the same container with chicken products from another country?
Dr Majokweni said the industry had lost 1 300 jobs since the outbreak had started, and it was being assumed the farmers would be able to restock. There was progress in the area of importing hatching eggs, and they were working with DAFF in that area. She indicated that if containers were from Brazil, they carried only Brazilian products to SA. The products were tested in our harbours. If the products were packed for SA, there was no need for them to be repacked when they were here.
Mr Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, informed the Committee the report explained the number of agreements reached with the industry. Some of the matters raised, like imports, do not lie with the DAFF, but with the dti. When there was a shortage, it was difficult to say one would never buy from a particular supplier, because one needed to address food security. He said some provinces had been severely affected by the outbreak, and the DAFF needed to find out what could have been the cause. Disease control could not be confined to SA only. There was a need to engage other SADC countries, because SA’s borders were porous. Farmers should also take cushioning measures like insurance to mitigate against the diseases or outbreaks even though they were not subsidized, just like their counterparts in other countries. However, that would be difficult for small farmers because they had many challenges to address. No one knew if the country was ready for possible outbreaks this winter.
Mr Maloyi asked for more clarity on the chicken farms that were about to be closed.
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that the DAFF had indicated it was not ready yet with the report. It was still being finalised. She further reminded the Committee that it had been saying it did not want to discuss anything without a report.
Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) asked how long the country took to make imported meat ready and safe for human consumption.
The Chairperson intervened, saying DAFF would not be able to answer that question because it had not compiled a report on that matter.
The Acting DG pointed out there were parameters that were set for meat imported to SA in terms of health, safety, etc, and he did not know of any expired products that had entered the country.
The Minister added that when the first outbreak was reported, the DAFF had briefed the Committee. It had been a consignment from Brazil. How much of that consignment should be accepted in the country had been discussed with the Health Ministry.
Ms Steyn asked how far the task team that had been set up to look at listeriosis was in its work.
The Minister said that when there was reportedly a high incidence of listeriosis, the Minister of Health had called for a task team. He had refuted the idea that listeriosis came from food production. Evidence needed to be produced about listeriosis. It had not been proved that it came from a food plant or meat. For example, when an animal was taken to the abattoir, it went through a long and stringent process up until one could buy it. Food security remained the uppermost priority within the Department.
DAFF: Annual Report Presentation
Mr Joe Kgobokoe, Deputy Director-General: Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation: DAFF, focused his presentation on the key programmes of the Department.
Programme 1: Administration
The risk management implementation plan had been implemented. The annual risk-based internal audit plan had been implemented. The 2018/19 workplace skills plan had been approved by the Director General (DG) and implemented. The stakeholder engagement strategy had been implemented. Two Bills had been submitted to the Minister. A report on the implementation of agricultural information managements systems had been developed. Four project verification reports had been submitted to the Executive Committee (EXCO). The sector research agenda had been monitored. One prioritised Master Systems Plan (MSP) project had been implemented.
Programme 2: Agricultural Production, Health and Food Safety
A legislative framework for animal identification and traceability had been developed. The report on animal improvement schemes (Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo and poultry) had been implemented. Two plant improvement schemes (seed crops and seed potato) had been implemented. Four regulatory interventions have been implemented (quarantine inspections, surveillance and testing). 150 compulsory community service veterinarians had been deployed. Four community-based indigenous goat conservation projects in Limpopo had been monitored. Two animal diseases risk surveillances were conducted on foot and mouth disease. One plant pest surveillance had been conducted on exotic fruit fly.
Programme 3: Food Security and Agrarian Reform
Four reports on national food and nutrition security interventions had been developed. Food and nutrition security baseline assessments were conducted in six provinces: North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Gauteng. 255 graduates had been placed in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors for capacity development. The annual report on deployment of extension support practitioners to commodity organisations had been developed. The national policy on comprehensive producer development support had been tabled to the Cabinet. 94 460 households had been supported with agricultural food production initiatives. 110 319 of hectares had been planted for food production. 54 smallholder producers had been commercialised. 23 896 smallholder producers had been supported. 20 extension support practitioners had been deployed to commodity organisations.
Programme 4: Trade Promotion and Market Access
The annual report on the implementation of the SA-GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certification programme for producers of fresh produce for exports had been developed. 45 agro-processing entrepreneurs had received training on processing norms and standards. 126 cooperatives had been supported. 14 commodity-based cooperatives had been established. Agri Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) enforcement guidelines had been published. The market opportunity profile research report for fish had been developed. The report on the implementation of the Forest Sector Code had been developed. The status report on compliance to African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) obligations had been developed. The report on the strategic engagement of partners within Africa and African multilateral agencies for the implementation of joint projects and action plans had been developed.
Programme 5: Forestry and Natural Resources Management
The Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Plan implementation guidelines had been developed. The Climate Smart Agriculture Strategic Framework had been approved. One project had supported the revitalisation of irrigation schemes. 300 hectares of state indigenous forests had been rehabilitated. The annual performance monitoring report on agricultural land rehabilitation interventions had been developed. 767 hectares had been planted in temporary unplanted areas.
Programme 6: Fisheries
One new research study on the economics of new candidate species for aquaculture had been conducted. Another research project on climate change -- assessment of temperature, deoxygenation and acidification on aquaculture -- had also been conducted. Fishing rights had been allocated in the abalone sector. Policies and application forms for 12 fishing sectors which expire in 2020 had been revised. Fishing rights had been allocated to registered small-scale fisheries cooperatives. 4 500 compliance and enforcement measures had been implemented in the six prioritised fisheries sectors -- hake, abalone, rock lobster, line fish, pelagic and squid. 40 joint operations had been conducted with partners, including Operation Phakisa initiatives.
(Tables were shown to illustrate earmarked funds for the 6 programmes)
The Chairperson wanted to establish how the Forum of Ministers gets involved in the planning process of the Department. She wanted to understand if the Department planned with it, or if it was involved before or after planning.
Mr Kgobokoe said that their planning process usually started around June every year. The DAFF invited all the provinces, entities, and private industry partners. They looked at the Nine-Point Plan and sifted out issues that were relevant to agriculture and converted them into themes which were discussed by commissions. The product of their planning was then taken to the Ministers’ Service Delivery Forum for presentation. Some members of this forum attended the planning process. The document was then circulated to all provinces to be included in their plans.
Mr Maloyi asked for the names of the two Bills that were to be submitted to the Minister. He wanted to know what the situation was regarding the commercialisation of 450 black farmers, because there seemed to be confusion. During the SONA 2017, former President Zuma had made a pronouncement on this matter, but now the Department was talking about 50 farmers per province. Would the Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy of 2017 take another year to be approved? Why were the hectares for food production decreasing?
Ms Bafedile Bopape, Chief Director: Policy Development and Planning: DAFF, said the Fertiliser Bill and Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill (PDALB) were the two Bills to be submitted to the Minister.
The 450 figure of black farmers to be commercialised had not been changed, but would be spread over five years, not per annum. It was still 50 farmers per province. When the idea had come up, they had been asked to conceptualise it. They had realised it was not practical to commercialise 450 farmers within a year, because that was an expensive exercise, and that was why the process had to be spread over five years of the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) period. They had also had discussions with the dti, and it was felt this process could not be done in a year.
Mr Kgobokoe added that to commercialise a farmer was an involved exercise. They had agreed that commercialising 450 farmers a year was a flaw, and had decided to come up with a practical solution. The farmers would be commercialised over a five-year period, with 50 farmers from each province.
Mr Maloyi said that in May 2017, the DAFF had indicated it had set aside R220m for the commercialisation programme.
The Chairperson said the Department had made the former President pronounce that 450 black farmers would be commercialised, and asked if it had apologised for misleading him. This had been stated during SONA 2017, and somebody from the Department had to tell the public that the DAFF had misled it. Now the Committee was being told the process was impractical to be done within a year.
The Minister pointed out the 450 figure was an insult to the former President, because he had promised people something that was not achievable and had raised the hopes of many people. He was not saying they had lied, but they needed to look at the documentation properly. He asked to be allowed to report back to the Committee about the R220m at the next meeting.
On the decreasing hectares for food production, he said that agriculture had been commodified. To plough a hectare cost R900, and to plant it was R700. People had seen a business opportunity in this area. The Department needed to look at some form of mechanisation and avoid the recurrence of the first mistake, where tractors had been stolen. Now they had to find tractors that used less diesel.
Mr Kgobokoe informed the Committee what they presented last year was the framework for Climate Smart Agriculture. This year, it would be presented as a strategy.
Mr P van Dalen (DA) asked why there were big differences between the Administration financials and the budget vote figures. The amounts did not correspond.
Mr Kgobokoe replied that this was something the Department would have to look at again, to ensure there was no disjuncture.
Mr Van Dalen said that was a silly answer, because it was clear where the money had been taken from and added on to.
The Chairperson told Mr Kgobokoe he should have said he would ask the chief financial officer (CFO) to respond to the matter in writing, because Mr Kgobokoe was not involved in the allocation of funds.
Ms Steyn remarked that the baseline said nothing in the presentation. As Members, they did not know whether they were winning or losing, because they did not get any feedback to see the impact made. They were not sure if the budget was making an impact on the lives of ordinary people. Spending seemed to be the trend. For example, the Department talked of 60 000 hectares of land to be rehabilitated, but did not state out of many hectares. She wanted to know about the status report on the residue monitoring of wild game to be presented to SADC and the EU, and asked about the impact of testing on exports. What was the capacity of DAFF to test produce coming into SA, because it had been reported that less than 5% of what was coming in was being tested?
Mr Kgobokoe said that when the DAFF presented what they were going to do, it would be advisable to state how far they had gone regarding their targets. The draft annual performance plan (APP) provided a baseline section that was audited by the AG.
Ms Siphokazi Ndudane, Deputy Director-General: Fisheries, DAFF, said that the residue monitoring plan was issued by the EU, and SA had to respond. SA had to give assurances to the EU that it would close markets for wild game, particularly the export of ostrich. However, the EU was not satisfied with assurances from SA. The DAFF had found a way of dealing with the residue monitoring.
The Acting DG said the 5% testing figure would not resonate with the 100% done in the ports of entry. There were different laboratories that tested samples of imported products. It was a thorough process, even though the Department did not have the capacity, but it still tested 100% of samples.
Mr Filtane remarked that food security was not addressed comprehensively in the report. The expenditure to have a socio-economic impact was not clearly stated. The Department should state the percentage that was going to have an impact on food security. Furthermore, there was no reference to what had to be transformed in the Department. The report was not clear on how the Department was going to effect transformation. How much was the Department planning to spend on consultants, seeing that it had a staff shortage problem. He asked what had happened to the programme that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) sought to do with DAFF. How much was going to be spent on maintenance, because the Department of Public Works (DPW) had been criticised for not having plans for maintenance. He added the that Portfolio Committee on Public Works had recently held a stakeholder engagement, but the DAFF had sent a very weak Chief Director, who had been of no help. During the Hout Bay harbour visit, it had been agreed that it should be the port of entry harbour.
Mr Kgobokoe, on food security, said food security plans were in place. Food security was a multi-faceted and multi-sectoral programme, but the Department had items that focused on areas like smallholder programmes. Information regarding the budget for consultants would be obtained from the CFO and forwarded to the Committee
Minister Zokwana addressed the issue of transformation, and said that when the Department briefed the Committee on its fisheries activities, it would be able to prove there had been progress. For example, most fishing skippers came from Bizana, and they had to realise that one day they needed to be owners of vessels, yet the community they came from was not participating in the fishing industry.
With regard to the programme with the DRDLR, it had been discussed that recapitalisation should be transferred to agriculture from the DRDLR. No funding had been set aside for recapitalisation. Both the DAFF and DRDLR had been instructed by the Presidency to come up with a funding plan for recapitalisation. He admitted their report had not provided details about the mechanics of their plans.
Ms Ndudane said there was a need for an honest discussion between the departments on how they wanted to deal with the harbours. It could be that harbours needed to be semi-privatised and operate on a 24-hour basis. Budget cuts had caused havoc in the fishing industry. Fishing harbours were not declared as ports of entry, only commercial harbours. Police had little mandate or work to do in the harbours. There was a legislation gap. Harbours needed to be declared ports of entry. Money was spent on harbours. A portion of the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) was used to maintain slipways in Saldanha Bay for R1.5m because they could not wait on the slow pace of the Public Works Department. Six harbour masters were doubling up as 12 harbour masters. More funding was needed. Fisheries was looking at other ways of getting funds. For example, it was thinking of increasing levies. The challenge was that Public Works used to be the coordinating structure for harbours, with Fisheries managing only the members.
Mr Kruger remarked that the training of 126 cooperatives was a drop in the ocean, because this would not solve SA’s problems. 126 trained cooperatives would help with job creation. The Department needed to communicate with the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD), but it would not because there was no transversal agreement between these two departments.
The Acting DG responded regarding co-operation between the DAFF and the DSBD, and indicated this was where the next jobs were going to come from. There were other government departments that were operating in this space, and they needed to be coordinated.
Mr Maphanga wanted to establish why, besides drought, there was a decrease in the number of hectares to be planted for food production.
The Acting DG said that budget cuts and an increase in operating costs had played a major part. All programmes had now been brought under Outcome 7, to prioritise the work that needed to be done.
Mr Capa remarked that the DAFF did not appear to have plans to continue upskilling its graduates after it had placed them. He asked if the Department had plans in place to manage the “three devils” -- drought, army worm and avian flu.
The Acting DG said there was an extension recovery plan in place to improve the qualifications and skills of the graduated extension officers. The registration of extension was another area the DAFF was involved in, to ensure they remained current and moved with the times in the work they were doing. Some of these graduates had qualifications to do extension work, and now new people with knowledge of the commercial value chain from an economic point of view were needed. Some of these graduates were being deployed to programmes with commercial farmers so that they could run their own operations one day, and not rely on being employed by the government.
The Minister, referring to the “three devils,” responded there did not seem to be an appreciation of what the DAFF had achieved. They had achieved because they had participated in a programme that had developed a drought-resistant maize seed. The army worm had come in February 2017, and they had been able to produce pesticides to fight it. Their scientists had made serious interventions, and biosecurity measures were going to be improved. This would also apply to coordination. SADC had praised SA in fighting these three devils. These were the results of climate change, and they would continue to fight them. Answers were not going to come from the government only, but from the private sector as well. There were issues they needed to tweak, as well as come up with innovative ways of fixing water and sanitation.
The Chairperson remarked that the Comprehensive Producer Support Programme did not seem to be integrated in the financial model that was accompanying it. She also pointed out that the baseline was written in the NDP document, and the APP of the Department was expected to follow the same trend. The Department’s targets must show that the Department was working towards that. She asked the DAFF to comment on its expenditure in terms of finalising its structure, and asked Fisheries why a cleaning of the oceans programme was an absent element, because it was practiced by other countries and would provide jobs to the locals.
The Acting DG indicated the omission of the Comprehensive Producer Support Programme was a result of the integrated finance. It would be brought into the APPs so that it could find expression in what the Department was doing. The R60m for the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) would be used to get people from different areas to do the monitoring, because as a Department they could not monitor projects at the national level only, but at the provincial level as well. The people who were going to do the monitoring were already within the structures of the DAFF. They were supernumeraries.
He said the APPs that had been presented accounted only for 40% of what the Department was doing, so they would need to include the other work. All the inputs given during the meeting would be included in the business case of the Department.
On the structure of the Department, he reported that Treasury had set a ceiling on posts which needed to be filled in all departments. DAFF had serious challenges with the compensation of employees, but it had embarked on a process of configuring the Department and had identified areas to save money on.
Ms Ndudane informed the Committee that the cleaning of the oceans was a programme that was in existence already. It was not done by DAFF, but by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). The DAFF only supported DEA, and every October there was a Marine Week. She added that the Fisheries’ APPs accounted only for 10% of the work they did as a branch.
The Chairperson advised that the DDG should document everything she did, because when there was a problem, the work that had been done should be included the document. If there was missing information, the DG and the Minister would be in trouble because the documents were tabled in Parliament.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Poultry Industry: South African Poultry Association briefing; DAFF 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan 1
- Poultry Industry: South African Poultry Association briefing; DAFF 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan 2
- Poultry Industry: South African Poultry Association briefing; DAFF on 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan 1