The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries briefed the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on its Annual Performance Plans for the 2018/19 financial year.
The Department indicated the sector objectives are on reducing vulnerability and risks associated with climate change; increasing biomass stock levels in the prioritised sectors; continuing to rehabilitate 16 000 hectares of land; reducing households vulnerable to hunger to 9, 5% by 2019; and increasing the contribution of processed products to manufacturing annually by 1% (total of 5% by 2019).
45 agro-processing entrepreneurs have been trained on processing norms and standards. The AgriBEE Guidelines have been published. The annual report on the implementation of the SA Good Agricultural Practices certification programme for producers of fresh produce for exports has been developed. 14 commodity-based cooperatives have been established. Reports on the implementation of the AgriBEE Sector Code and Forest Sector Code for government undertakings have been implemented.
The Climate Smart Agriculture Strategic Framework was approved by the Director-General. The Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Plan implementation guidelines have been developed. There is only one project to support the revitalisation of irrigation schemes. 300 hectares of state indigenous forests have been rehabilitated. The Draft Bill on the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land has been submitted to the Office of the State Law Advisor for pre-certification.
4500 compliance and enforcement measures in the 6 prioritised fisheries sectors (hake, abalone, rock lobster, line fish, pelagic and squid) have been implemented. Research reports and Total Allowance Catch and Total Allowance Estimate recommendations have been compiled for 2 sectors - abalone and West Coast rock lobster. Fishing rights have been allocated to registered small-scale fisheries cooperatives. Policies and application forms for 12 fishing sectors which expire in 2020 have been revised. Rights in the abalone sector are still to be allocated.
Four quarterly reports on national food and nutrition security interventions have been developed. 255 graduates have been placed within the Department for capacity development. Food and nutrition security baseline assessments have been conducted in six provinces (North West, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Free State and Gauteng). The National Policy on comprehensive producer development support has been tabled before Cabinet. The annual report on the deployment of Extension Support Practitioners to commodity organisations has been reviewed. The annual progress report on black farmers commercialisation programme has been approved by the Executive Committee.
Members asked if there is money left from the Department’s budget for operations; wanted to establish if budget has been made available for the ram scheme in the Eastern Cape; asked about the kind of risks that are anticipated in the Department; wanted to find out how much agricultural land South Africa has and how much of that land is allocated for food production; wanted to know how far the Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo has spread throughout the provinces; wanted to establish how much it is going to cost for the irrigation schemes to be fully functional again and how far the process of revitalising these has gone; and remarked there has been no commitment on the revitalisation of aquaculture projects though the Committee has visited four provinces in the last year.
Mr Mooketsa Ramasodi, Acting Director-General, DAFF, took the Committee through the plans and budget allocations of the programmes of the Department for the 2018/19 period.
Programme 1: Administration
There is a full implementation of the Risk Management Strategy. The annual risk-based Internal Audit Plan has been implemented. The departmental Business Continuity Management Operational Risk has been assessed. The DAFF ICT Disaster Recovery Site Plan has been implemented. One prioritised Master Systems Plan project has been implemented. The Feed and Pet Food Bill and Fertilisers Bill have been submitted to the Minister. The report on sector economic and statistical information outlook has been completed. The Communication Strategy and Stakeholder Strategy have been implemented. The 2018/19 workplace skills plan has been submitted to the Director-General for approval and implementation. The report on the implementation of the Agricultural Information Management System has been implemented.
This programme has been allocated a sum of R923 178 million.
Programme 2: Agricultural Production, Health and Food Safety
R2 367 078 billion has been allocated to this programme. The report on the animal improvement schemes (Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo and poultry) has been implemented. Two plant improvement schemes (seed crops and seed potato) have been implemented. Four regulatory interventions have been implemented (quarantine inspections, surveillance and testing). The policy on animal identification and traceability has been developed. 150 veterinary graduates have been deployed to rural communities.
Programme 3: Food Security and Agrarian Reform
Four quarterly reports on national food and nutrition security interventions have been developed. 255 graduates have been placed within DAFF for capacity development. Food and nutrition security baseline assessments have been conducted in six provinces (North West, Limpopo, KZN, Mpumalanga, Free State and Gauteng). The National Policy on comprehensive producer development support has been tabled before Cabinet. The annual report on the deployment of Extension Support Practitioners to commodity organisations has been reviewed. The annual progress report on black farmers’ commercialisation programme has been approved by EXCO. 104 701 hectares have been planted for food production while 96 941 households have been supported with agricultural food production initiatives. 23 670 smallholder producers have been supported. 20 Extension Support Practitioners have been deployed to commodity organisations.
A budget of R2 037 889 has been allocated to this programme.
Programme 4: Trade Promotion and Market Access
45 agro-processing entrepreneurs have been trained on processing norms and standards. The AgriBEE Guidelines have been published. The annual report on the implementation of the SA-GAP certification programme for producers of fresh produce for export has been developed. 14 commodity-based cooperatives have been established. Reports on the implementation of the AgriBEE Sector Code and Forest Sector Code for government undertakings have been implemented. The market opportunity profile research for fish has been developed. Reports on the implementation of trade agreements and participation in trade negotiations are in place. With regard to the implementation of the international strategy, reports on strategic engagement of partners within Africa and Africa agencies and on compliance to AU and SADC obligations are developed.
R273 919m has been allocated to the programme.
Programme 5: Forestry and Natural Resources Management
The allocation for the programme is R1 075 123 billion.
The Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Strategic Framework was approved by the Director-General. The Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Plan implementation guidelines have been developed. There is only one project to support the revitalisation of irrigation schemes. 300 hectares of state indigenous forests have been rehabilitated. The Draft Bill on the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land has been submitted to the Office of the State Law Advisor for pre-certification. 550 hectares have been planted in temporary unplanted areas. 16 000 hectares of land have been rehabilitated. The Department has been consistent in this area over a period of time.
Programme 6: Fisheries
This programme has been allocated R487 811 million.
280 investigations are to be conducted. 4500 compliance and enforcement measures in the 6 prioritised fisheries sectors (hake, abalone, rock lobster, line fish, pelagic and squid) have been implemented. Research reports and Total Allowable Catch/Total Allowable Estimate (TAC/TAE) recommendations have been compiled for 2 sectors - abalone and West Coast rock lobster. Fishing rights have been allocated to registered small-scale fisheries cooperatives. Policies and application forms for 12 fishing sectors which expire in 2020 have been revised. Rights in the abalone sector are still to be allocated. One new research has been conducted on the economics of new candidate species for aquaculture while another one has been conducted on production systems for new candidate species for aquaculture.
Ms A Steyn (DA), first, asked if there were money left from the Department’s budget for operations. Second, she wanted to establish if budget has been made available for the ram scheme in the Eastern Cape. Third, she wanted to know the number of hectares planted with the drought tolerant maize seed. Fourth, she enquired if there are any plans in place and budget available for different departments to work together on conservation projects; and asked if extension officers on the ground are doing any risk monitoring.
Mr Jacob Hlatshwayo, CFO, DAFF, reported the available funding is not sufficient and matters were compounded by budget cuts in the past three years. High accruals of R120M need to be paid and are affecting the current budget. In the current year, the Department has been paying its service providers and accrual figures have gone down.
Mr Ramasodi said the ram scheme was initially funded by DAFF and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR). The issue was how to facilitate funding with the participating provinces. It was discussed that some funding has to come from the provinces. He further pointed out that provinces had indicated the number of hectares planted with the drought-tolerant maize seed when they presented to the Committee recently. Everything is positive. DAFF only needs to put figures from the provinces together and then forward them to the Committee. On conservation projects, DAFF is trying to preserve different indigenous crops and plants at different levels and that is why the Department is partnering with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). Lastly, he stated there is lot of work done on the extension services. Their skills have been upgraded so that they could move with the demands of modern times.
Mr P Maloyi asked if earmarked funds refer to ring-fenced funds.
Mr Hlatshwayo agreed in the affirmative and said those funds could only be used for what they have been allocated for.
Mr M Filtane (UDM) wanted to know if the Department has all the necessary human resources and qualifications to carry out the work and asked about the kind of risks that are anticipated in the Department. He also asked how much agricultural land South Africa has and how much of that land is allocated for food production. Lastly, he asked if there is an exit plan for the producers in the comprehensive development support programme and for the graduates that are going to be in Department training programme.
Mr Hlatshwayo explained that everything is in place in terms of human resources. He also indicated all two types of risks – strategic and operational – are always there and are what they deal with.
Mr Ramasodi indicated a document on land inventory has been issued by the DRDLR. It identifies where the land is and how it is to be cultivated, especially dry arable land. What is important is the output from the land and those who have benefited.
The Chairperson, on the producers and graduates exit plan, said the Committee must wait for the finalisation of the National Policy Comprehensive Framework which details how these programmes are going to be carried out.
Mr N Capa (ANC) wanted to know how far the Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo (KyD) has spread throughout the provinces. He had concerns on the work done on animal and plant disease which could not be targeted, especially on managing diseases that just come up because they are not part of the measured performance.
Mr Ramasodi informed the Committee there is a relatively good spread of KyD in the provinces. Funding is the only thing that inhibits it. The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) livestock programme is another participant in the KyD. There are many interventions, and the only thing DAFF now needs to do is to compile figures and the geographical spread.
About animal and pests and diseases, DAFF needs to work on the reporting side because it relies on farmers. If funding were sufficient, they would be having a surveillance system on the ground. A lot of work still needs to be done. There is a need to prioritise budget for research so that vaccines could be developed.
Mr L Ntshayisa (AIC) asked what is going to happen to the Ncera allocation and if the officials from Ncera are going to be transferred to DAFF with their annual packages.
Mr Ramasodi indicated that the Ncera funds would be allocated to the ARC from National Treasury because it has been surrendered to the ARC. The Ncera facility is not going to be closed down and its workers would be under the ARC and they would be taken care of because they would be paid at a higher rate. The CFO and CEO are going to be moved to DAFF.
Ms Steyn wanted to know when the combined funding would be made available to farmers. She also asked for clarity on the revitalisation of agro-processing and AgriParks because a lot of money has been coming from the DRDLR. She further wanted to establish how much it is going to cost for the irrigation schemes to be fully functional again and how far the process of revitalising them has gone; and enquired how funding to provinces is going to be monitored.
Mr Hlatshwayo elaborated that the monitoring and evaluation of projects has been raised many times. This matter is being discussed internally. It was decided monitoring should be with the PPME (Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation) branch. The matter has been discussed with the HR unit in terms of staff resourcing. Already, there is an allocation of R30m.
Pertaining to the combined funding, he indicated R330m set aside for this MTEF which would go to the Land Bank in order to facilitate this blended funding. They have to look at how they are going to assist farmers through the combination of grant percentage and loan percentage.
Mr Ramasodi added there are many funding streams that flow into agriculture but are not tied to one thing. The blended finance is there to address this matter. Certain programmes of the Department get funding from this blended finance.
He also reported they are still discussing with the DRDLR on how to make use of the funds for Agro-processing and AgriParks. The two ministers recently met to discuss the matter. With regard to irrigation schemes and are going to see if they could galvanise private sector funding in this scheme for maintenance.
Mr Capa asked what the Department is going to do to ensure the 255 graduates that are going to be deployed to the state are going to get relevant skills.
Mr Ramasodi indicated the programme has identified the areas they are going to be trained on. They are not going to be left to their own devices.
The Chairperson wanted to know how many graduates are going to be trained to be farmers because it is important that they be converted into entrepreneurs. She asked for clarity on the agriculture census that still needs to be carried out. Then she wanted to find out when the former CEO of Ncera would be suspended for giving himself a salary increase.
Mr Hlatshwayo explained the agriculture census has been allocated R90m for the current year. The Department has been negotiating with Stats SA and is awaiting signatures from Stats SA for the MOU.
Mr Ramasodi reported 1000 graduates are going to be deployed to the sector. Some have already deployed to farms through the CASP programme. They have been given choices and opportunities to be farmers and entrepreneurs within the value chain.
The final report for the Ncera CEO came through in December 2017. The matter is led by an advocate. The Ncera CEO and an allegedly implicated Department official are going to respond in an audio manner of why they should not be charged.
Ms Steyn remarked that many farmers and people are writing to the Department but get no acknowledgement of their correspondence or responses. The problem is around courtesy. She wondered if the Department does respond to correspondence from other countries.
The Chairperson stated the Department is supposed to maximise the use of the officials placed in DAFF's foreign missions on issues related to agriculture with foreign countries.
Mr Ramasodi said it is regrettable that issues from ordinary citizens are not dealt with by the Department. Regarding missions, there is an exchange of information between countries. He promised to check out the facts on information exchanged with trading partners.
Mr Capa asked if the commodity-based cooperatives are linked to provinces.
Mr Ramasodi stated they are linked to provinces. Most of the cooperatives are in the space of agriculture.
Ms Steyn asked what the baseline is for the 300 hectares of state indigenous forests that have been rehabilitated. She further remarked that money for assisting farmers should not be given to service providers because it does not reach the intended beneficiaries, because there is a story of a service provider in Northern Cape who bought himself/herself a new car and did not deliver on the mandate given to him/her.
Mr Ramasodi indicated information on baseline would be forwarded to the Committee because the Department needs to compile information first. There are certain categories of A & B forests that were given to the private sector and some A & B forest categories were handed to the state. Now DAFF needs to pay for those in state forests.
Mr P van Dalen (DA), first, commented the MLRF has no targets set for the collection of fishing harbour fees yet harbours have not been maintained for a very long time. Second, he remarked that more harbours are to be proclaimed as fishing harbours, but nothing has happened. The proclamations were there, but the Department decided to take them off. Third, he asked if the basket of fish has been agreed upon for the fishing communities. Fourth, he wanted to know when the Small-scale Fishing Policy would be implemented. Fifth, he remarked there are no clear deadlines and plans on aquaculture. Sixth, he wanted to establish when the Fishing Transformation Council would start working. Lastly, he remarked that APPs are reports the MLRF is going to use but the Committee does not even see these reports it is talking of so that it could do its oversight role.
Mr Ramasodi pointed out the issue of harbours needs further debate on how funding and administration could be discussed with the Department of Public Works (DPW).
Mr Belemane Semoli, Acting Deputy Director-General for Fisheries, DAFF, said the responsibility of harbours is shared between DAFF and DPW. DAFF is responsible for the management of harbours. Maintenance and repairs are done by DPW. Money has been allocated to take out sunken vessels and work has started already in St Helena Bay, Saldanha Bay, and Hout Bay.
With regard to the fishing proclamation, the document has been completed. The only thing that needs to be done is the lengthy public participation process. Work was done on the proclamation of the fishing harbours but it was decided the proposed work was not detailed and should be started from scratch in order to come up with a detailed plan.
On the small-scale allocations impact, the DPME two years ago introduced the compulsory Socio-Economic Impact System to show how the allocations are going to have an impact on the lives of ordinary citizens. It has been agreed upon which species would form part of the basket of species from FRAP 2020 for the small-scale. The verification of small-scale fishing participants has been done in communities. The registration of cooperatives has taken place in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Western Cape. Support programmes for communities in terms of value chain would be identified during 2019.
The Transformation Advisory Council is to be established soon. It has been tabled before the Minister. Regarding aquaculture, he indicated it is part of the oceans economy which tries to unlock potential in the sector. The Department has done a detailed 3-Feet planning on Operation Phakisa to document progress made and to minimise blockages. The legislative reform in aquaculture has taken place. The Aquaculture Development Bill is to be presented to Cabinet to streamline aquaculture activities in order to ensure they are managed holistically. The certification and monitoring programme is up and running and an inter-departmental programme is in place to fast-track permits in aquaculture.
The APP reports are usually collected by AGSA to show work that has been done. Copies of the reports would then be sent to the Committee at the end of the financial year.
The Chairperson remarked there has been no commitment on the revitalisation of aquaculture projects though the Committee has visited four provinces in the last year. She asked if there are any plans in place to ensure black scientists are being recruited in the fishing area, especially those that want to specialise in fishing because there is only one fish veterinarian in the country. She wanted to know if there are any options in place to convert fishermen to become professionals in the fishing industry.
Mr Semall informed the Committee they have engaged with provinces that are into aquaculture for the compilation of business plans for the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP) to make sure aquaculture is featured in their plans. All provinces have budgeted for aquaculture through CASP for the current financial year.
330 dams in the country have fish. People are fishing informally while others do so for recreation purposes. A policy has been drafted on this issue, but the MLRF is waiting for it to be gazetted so that people can start fishing legally.
He enlightened the Committee there is a skills initiative in aquaculture. Unfortunately, the country does not have universities that train fish veterinarians. DAFF has an MOU with a university in Scotland. Five graduates from five provinces, especially those that practice aquaculture in a large scale, are studying at this Scotland university. Another initiative is around marketing aquaculture sectors and products that come from aquaculture. He noted that recent research indicates that a person in SA consumes 10kg of fish per annum and that figure is very low when it is compared to other countries. Awareness campaigns on fish consumption are in place. Government departments are encouraged to procure from these aquaculture initiatives.
Ms Sue Middleton, Chief Director for Fisheries Operational Support: DAFF, spoke briefly about FRAP 2020. She said the MLRF is preparing for FRAP 2020. There are 12 fishing sectors that are due for commercial and small-scale allocations. There is a proposal that two sectors be 100% small-scale, and some 2 and 3 sectors be commercial. The policies are being reviewed internally. The public participation process for policies is planned to start in May 2018 with regard to transfer of fishing rights, harbour fees, grant of right fees, etc. Allocations would be finalised around December 2019.
The Chairperson suggested the proclamation of the fishing harbours is something the Committee needs to be briefed on and be discussed in detail. She asked the Department to forward the Committee information on the tuna fishing quotes, jobs created, and tonnage produced.
The meeting was adjourned.