Planting season readiness 2018/19: Provincial Departments of Agriculture; with Minister

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

28 August 2018
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries welcomed officials from the Department of Rural, Environment and Agriculture Development (READ), the Department on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), all of which briefed the Committee on the state of readiness for the planting season.

READ said there were 14 projects in the four districts in the North West, and referred to challenges involving machinery, beneficiaries and service providers. Members drew specific attention to the situation regarding Agridelight Training and Consulting, and said it needed to be resolved. Concerns were raised over the fact that the province’s state of readiness was not at 100%, as well as the high unemployment rate in the area. It was also asserted that the spatial framework used in North West was the same one used during the apartheid era, which was unacceptable. Other topics which generated discussion were the need for women and youths to participate actively in agriculture, climate change and the threat of drought.

DALRRD described progress with the Fetsa Tlala programme in the Northern Cape. Members were impressed with the way the province was promoting the cultivation of Rooibos. However, they were worried about the drought the farmers in the area were currently experiencing. As it stood, disaster management had been alerted. The province was also experiencing the challenge of high levels of unemployment.  Regarding green energy, the Northern Cape was currently the leading province in the development of solar plants for small farmers. Irrigation was seen as pivotal for agriculture production in the area.     

In the absence of the Gauteng Member of the Executive Council for Agriculture, the province’s report was not presented.  

Meeting report

The Chairperson said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the state of readiness for the 2018/19 planting season. Present were officials from the Rural Environment and Agricultural Development (READ) Department in the North West provincial government, officials from the Department on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) in the Northern Cape.

North West Rural Environment and Agricultural Development Department

Ms Manketsi Tlhape, Member of the Executive Council (MEC): READ, North West Province, introduced Dr Poncho Mokaila, Head of Department, who would deliver the presentation.

Dr Mokaila said that he wanted to speak about the progress that had been made since the last meeting with the Portfolio Committee (PC).  

Thlabologang abattoir

The first project was the Thlabologang abattoir (Mabeskraal village and Moses Kotane local municipality). The matters raised by the PC had been the project implementation plans, associated cost and date of completion of the project. The interventions/remedial actions were the project implementation plan and cost breakdowns for 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18, and were attached to the presentation for ease of reference. The progress to date was that the DAFF section 100 task team had appointed a technical team led by the Department to review the entire project and to oversee completion of the project.  

Regarding the demonstration of linkages between primary and secondary production and an agricultural policy action plan (APAP) for project sustainability, a list of livestock producers in Moses Kotane local municipality was also attached. The project was aligned to the APAP, and had adequate production volumes from local communities to support a throughput of 20 per day. Livestock farmers within Moses Kotane local municipality had been mobilised to market and sell their livestock through an adjacent livestock facility which was operational.

The matter of the provision of an access road would be referred to Moses Kotane Local Municipality for consideration and inclusion in the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) by 10 October 2018. Progress in this regard would be monitored and reported on. During the inception of the project, READ had engaged Moses Kotane local municipality and had promised to construct the access road as their contribution, which would also lead to the auction sales pen

The project profile had not been made available on the day of oversight due to the change of itinerary. The attached project profile had been submitted to the PC.

Moses Kotane crop

The second project was the Moses Kotane crop (Magong village and Moses Kotane local municipality). There had been several recommendations made by the PC.

The project profile had not been made available on the day of oversight due to the change of itinerary: The attached project profile had been submitted to the PC.

Regarding the inadequate or lack of fencing infrastructure to support project expansion for cropping, this item would be incorporated into 2018/19 project plans for implementation and where possible, local manufacturers would be considered. Six kilometres of fencing had been budgeted for.

Regarding the promotion of existing beekeeping for potential enterprises in Magong Village, a plan would be rolled out to develop beekeeping projects in the area and enhance capacity building for farmers. The project was catered for in the 2018/19 Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) funding for R420 000.

To mitigate the high costs of outsourcing/hiring a harvesting machine, a district pool harvesting machine would be procured during the 2018/19 financial year for utilisation by farmers in the Moses Kotane area. READ was in the process of procuring the harvesting machine with an allocation of R1 300 000.

The high transportation costs for delivery of crops to distant markets were being addressed through the implementation of the agrologistics programme, as part of the grain value chain to support crop farming in the area. READ was currently developing an agrologistic plan to cater for transporting grains.

To establish collaborative control over Fall Army Worm in Magong Village, there had been provision of technical support and reporting as part of collaboration with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). Together with the DAFF, READ had developed a comprehensive fall army worm management plan which had resulted in the worm not spreading into other areas, and chemicals had been provided. Scouting was done on a continuous basis.

Groot marico vegetable project

The third project was the Groot marico vegetable project, (Groot Marico and the Ramotshere Moiloa Local Municipality).   

There was a training plan to support the beneficiaries and broaden the scope of knowledge and practical experience. Training was conducted by the extension officer, Dicla, the New Holland Tractor Company and the Kgora Farmer Training Centre. Farmers were trained on general vegetable production by the agricultural advisor, and Dicla provided technical training under tunnel protection.  

Regarding the performance of soil analysis for precision planning, soil samples had been taken and analysed by Potchefstroom Soil Science Laboratory. Soil tests had been done and recommendations were implemented.

For assurance on the water quality and its safety for the project/human consumption, the status of the water quality was determined through monthly monitoring tests performed by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). Results showed no fecal contamination, and the water was safe for human consumption. The borehole was drilled, and an irrigation system installed.

In respect of consultation of beneficiaries on goods and services delivered or rendered to the project during implementation, and record keeping thereof, READ had not received the report from Social Development and Kgetleng local municipality, as records were not available for the failure of the project. READ was relying on information from the local agricultural advisor, and had developed a plan together with beneficiaries to ensure sustenance of the project  

Measures undertaken by the Department to ensure that the current beneficiaries did not fail, drawing from previous lessons and experiences, involved the agricultural advisor already implementing a plan where the tunnels and the open field cultivation were divided among the beneficiaries -- each was responsible for a number of tunnels and a piece of land. They had all cultivated the same crops, tomatoes, chillies and beans. The plan was working quite well, as the beneficiaries were now harvesting and marketing the proceeds.

A return of R859 000 per tunnel was projected, which was a good basis for the viability sustainability of project

Where there had been an incomplete electricity connection service, electricity had been reconnected and was functioning.

Following the complaints about Agridelights -- a service provider contracted by the Department to monitor the performance of service by contractors through a management fee because of a lack of engineering capacity within the Department -- the contract had not been renewed.  

Sehloho Milling

The fourth project was Sehloho Milling, (Mofufutso and Tswaing local municipality).

Project beneficiaries had already been trained on the introduction to the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) programme, and were undergoing their second level of HACCP training from 20 to 24 August. Other training needs would follow in 2018/19, as per the skills audit.

Packaging material had been branded and provided to beneficiaries, and were being used. Three chromodek sign boards had been installed at strategic sites.

Farmers were selling and milling their produce at plants, and some had an agreement with the entrepreneur.

An additional R1000 000 had been allocated from 2018/19 CASP funding for completion of the projects.

Eskom was planning to upgrade the entire line for the supply of three phase electricity. A three phase 100KVA generator had been provided to operationalise the milling plant.

There was planned intervention in the project expansion of the mill, to link other maize producers with the milling project instead of competition.  Linkage programmes in collaborative planning, capacity building, information sharing and collective bargains for markets would be constituted in consultation with other milling plants for production optimisation. Surrounding millers operated as an association working with farmers.

The DAFF technical team had visited the project and advised on training to be provided, and farmers had attended compliance training at Kgora, facilitated by the DAFF, from 20-24 August 2018.

To assist the project with access to markets such as the School Nutrition Programme, retailers and Government institutions such as hospitals and prisons, a plan would be developed in collaboration with other government entities as possible markets in the area. This government-led market had beeninitiated by READ’s marketing divison, in collaboration with wih Social Development, Health and Correctional Services, as well as the National Defence Force.

To achieve a linkage between primary and secondary production and processing, to ensure optimal utilisation of the milling plant, a model would be developed in partnership with producers over the 13,000 hectares targeted for the next cropping season. Milling plants supported were linked to the Departmental crop massification programme, and Agri-parks.

As part of new product development, a fortified and diverse product line would be introduced for optimal machine utilisation. The beneficiary was considering other value adding products, such as animal feeds.

To overcome the poor electricity capacity and supply, there had been engagement with Eskom to strengthen the electricity supply. Eskom was planning to upgrade the entire line for the supply of three-phase electricity. A three-phase 100KVA generator had been provided to operationalise the milling plant

Lebone Vegetable

The fifth project was Lebone Vegetable, (Ramatlabama Village).

A mechanisation package -- tractor, roller, disc offset, plough, trailer and boom sprayer -- had been bought and delivered in March 2018 at a cost of R499 448. The beneficiary had been trained in the use mechanization, and she was currently preparing soil for the next cabbage crop. The beneficiary was provided with 2 200 litres of diesel and vegetable production inputs.

READ had identified available arable land through the agrarian revolution, working with tribal authorities, and the problem was limited budget.

Kopanelo Beef

The sixth project was Kopanelo Beef, (Madibe Village).

The project was budgeted for in 2018/19 financial year through CASP funding.

The farmer had applied for an additional land from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR). 

There was a need for pasture planning and development to improve the carrying capacity of the farm, and the farmer had been advised to reduce livestock, based on the carrying capacity, and had acquired additional tribal land.

To achieve genetic improvement and possible registration with the Bonsmara Stud Breeders Association, the farmer was participating in the ARC’s Kaonafatso Ya Leruo Programme for the genetic improvement of his herd.  Through this programme, he was able to sell bulls tested and certified by the Bonsmara Stud Breeders Association.

The farmer was currently selling at the nearest Departmental auction facilities.

Tswelelopele Fishery-Barberspan

The seventh project was the Tswelelopele Fishery-Barberspan, (Tswaing local municipality).

Because of unaffordability, the daily entrance fee of R75 per beneficiary per day was waived at Barberspan with immediate effect. The Department had engaged with the North West Parks Board on the exemption of the daily entrance fee for all food security iniatives in all six identified dams. The entrance fee had been waved and beneficiaries get free entry to the project. 

To counter the high input costs of fuel and feed for the fishes, the project had been supported with a 1ha security fence; a 10m x 30m tunnel with 10 fish ponds; three quad bikes; a deep chest freezer; fishing equipment; payment of the electricity bill; and provision of fish feed used as bait at the dam.

For expansion of the project for sustainability, and in relation to the dam’s capacity, DAFF was providing technical support in the form of water quality tests, fish sample tests and training. The project site was earmarked for becoming an ecotourism hub.

For training and capacity building, and market access support for new project expansion, beneficiaries had undergone training in fish health, breeding, stock management and fry rearing at Gariep Dam in the Northern Cape. The training was ongoing.

Doornpan mixed farm

The eighth project was the Doornpan mixed farming (Maquasi Hills local municipality).

For the future utilisation of the farm and other similar commercial farms, two undergraduate students who intend to be entrepreneurs had been placed on a two-year contract to learn from the farmer.

For the disposal of obsolete and redundant machinery equipment on site, READ would engage the DRDLR on the possible disposal of obsolete equipment.  A R3 million tractor had been purchased for the farmer by READ.The DRDLR was still engaging on the disposal of obsolete equipment, and the process was not yet finalised.

Because of slow delivery of services by Agridelight, new service provision options would be introduced for effective and efficient service delivery going forward.

Thusano Communal Property Association

The ninth project was the Thusano Communal Property Association (CPA), (Maquasi Hills local municipality).    

The documents on land acquisition, ownership and demarcation had been provided. READ, working together with beneficiaries, was developing a business plan. The DRDLR was facilitating the empowerment of the CPA.

The soil sampling had been conducted for the 2017/18 cropping season. 100 ha had been planted.

Itumeleng Taje Crop Project

The tenth project was Itumeleng Taje Crop Project, (NW 405 local municipality).

The farmer had been linked with the DWS for an application for water rights. He was storing his produce at SENWES.

The farmer was assisted by READ, based on the Departmental mechanisation policy.The project was funded for 2018/19 for crop production inputs. He had been included in in the commercialisation programme. READ had incurred expenses of R852 995 for diesel and fertilizers for 600 ha.

The farmer would undergo business management training, facilitated by the Department’s training division.

A crop study group that included other private sectors involved in crop production had been established.

Appeldraai Agricultural Cooperative

The eleventh project was the Appeldraai Agricultural Cooperative, (NW 405 local municipality).

READ had paid electricity bill.  Currently the farmer was using the prepaid system. Beneficiaries had undergone vegetable production and bookkeeping training at Kgora Training Centre.

The Potchefstroom College had installed shade net (20 m x 30 m) with a drip irrigation system, 10 000 litre tanks and a solar panel system. READ had purchased 2 000 litres diesel and vegetable inputs for 1ha, and the farmers had repaired the tractor.

There had been a lack of commitment from other beneficiaries to the project, but the problem had been resolved. Those who had no interest in the farm had resigned.

The matter of the CPA committee being illegitimate had been referred to the DRDLR, and feedback was awaited.

The activities of the project had not been fully optimized, so the matter had been referred to the municipality, and a response was awaited.

To overcome the lack of reliable income, partnerships with the Department of Public Works and Roads (DPWR), including beneficiaries in READ’s expanded public works programme (EPWP) had been leveraged. With the production on site, and electricity bill having been settled, the project would sustain itself.  

Sekwenyane LS Farming

The twelfth project was Sekwenyane LS Farming, (NW 405 local municipality).

Crop production training was done at Kgora Training Centre, which included production practices, weed control, fertilization and seedbed preparation.  The beneficiary had been included in the commercialisation programme. The project leader had continuously visited the project to assist the beneficiary with his farming activities. 

The project leader had facilitated the registration of the company on the data base under his own name.

Cetiso

The thirteenth project was Cetiso -- vegetable, sheep and pigs, (NW 405 local municipality).

Farmer had repaired the farm fencing and had received training on vegetable production from the Kgora Training Centre.

READ had strengthened the solar panel usage for the provision of water from the borehole. The matter had also been referred to the DWS for intervention, and a response was still awaited.

Motloung piggery farm

The fourteenth project was Motloung piggery farm, (NW 405 local municipality).

A market had been secured with Vision Meat in Klerksdorp.

A study group had been established with the South African Pork Producers Organisation (SAPPO), aiming to address all pig production challenges in the JB Marks district. The district, together with other stakeholders, had a plan to host a white meat symposium on 3 October 2018, and had hosted a district agricultural exposition and indaba aimed at smallholder farmers engaging commercial farmers on farming challenges. A production plan had been aimed at vegetable, piggery and aquaculture production.

The beneficiary had consulted the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) for funding on aquaculture production. READ had provided vegetable production inputs for a 0.5ha vegetable plot.

 

North West Province state of readiness for 2018/19 planting season

READ said the province had four agricultural districts. The were Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati in the west (livestock), Dr Kenneth Kaunda in the south (poultry and pork), Ngaka Modiri Molema (grain), and Bojanala (horticulture).

The provinces two primary sectors were agriculture and mining, which were generally characterised by volatility in growth. Between 2006 and 2016, the agriculture sector had experienced its highest positive growth in 2008, with an average growth rate of 22%. The mining sector had reached its highest point of growth of 19.4% in 2015. The agricultural sector had experienced its lowest growth for period during 2015, at 16.9%, whilst the mining sector had reaching its lowest point of growth in 2014, at 13.7%.

Crop Production Plan

The agricultural sector had been constrained by the inability to increase efficiency in most commodities, including crops. There had been a 60%-70% decline in the cropping area, with a lack of production means and a change in land use patterns through urbanisation, game ranching and changes of business use, such as solar plants. Smallholder farmers had faced constraints through lack of access to information, high marketing and transaction costs, low product quality and a lack critical volume, inadequate infrastructure, agro-logistics, funding and enterprise development.

READ had undertaken to prioritise two key activities through its crop massification programme, with the following objectives:

  • To support medium term strategic framework (MTSF) sectoral targets, in line with the National Development Plan (NDP);
  • Implement the comprehensive food security and nutrition strategy programme;
  • Utilise land in communal areas and land reform projects for production, to achieve the provincial target of 14 000ha;
  • Strive for family farming concepts,
  • Women and youth participation to form part of production initiatives, to make sure that farms continue to be productive.

 

Hectares & Commodities

The 14 000ha spoken about had been divided into different districts and commodities. Ngaka Modiri would have 8 000ha, Bojanala would have 2 000ha, Dr Kenneth Kaunda would have 3 000ha and Dr Ruth Segomotsi would have 1 000ha. The commodities that would be planted were sunflowers, maize, beans, soy beans, ground-nuts and wheat.

The hectares were further divided among commodities -- notably maize would take up 4 600ha, whilst sunflowers would take up 7 520ha.

There were no signed APP Fetsa Tlala targets for the first and second quarter. However, 9 000ha was planned for food production in the third quarter, whilst 5 000ha was planned for the fourth quarter. Quarter one and two would be used for preparatory work.

There would be 821 beneficiaries. In total there would be 570 male beneficiaries, 242 female beneficiaries, 89 youths and five disabled beneficiaries.

Budgets

The main focus would be on the 2018/19 year. There would be R18.5 million for Ngaka Modiri, R8.5 million for Bojanala, R6.3 million for Dr Kenneth Kaunda, and R12.5 million for Dr Ruth Segomotsi. In total the budget would be R46 million.

A total number of 18 approved projects would be implemented for 2018/19, funded through CASP and ILIMA-Letsema. The total jobs to be created was 1 202. In terms of the distribution per district, Bojanala would have seven projects, Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati would have five, Dr Kenneth Kaunda would haver four and Ngaka Modiri Molema would have two.

A total of 52 682 hectares had been planted as a contribution into the one-million-hectare target. In 2017/18, it had stood at 14 628ha.

State of Readiness Summary

The annual grain deliverables for Quarter 1 include the final maturity stage of grains (maize, sorghum) from dough stage to drying, the harvesting of oilseeds, and harvesting of both maize and sorghum. There would be development of specifications for the procurement of inputs and mechanisation packages, and the procurement of mechanisation packages. The progress of procurement of mechanisation packages would be the disbursement of funds under CASP. Lastly, there was soil analysis -- sampling and testing -- and winter ploughing.

In Quarter 2, the winter tilling continues, with liming of lands, repair and maintenance of mechanisation, capacity building of both farmers and the procurement of production inputs. Progress was the provision of technical mechanisation advice and also basic mechanisation training, with 331 farmers on accredited training for agronomy and horticulture. Lastly, all production input suppliers’ data base would be advertised, with the closing date on 28 August 2018. Approval and procurement would be from September up to the end of October.

The annual grain deliverables in Quarter 3 would include the delivery of production inputs to beneficiaries, seedbed preparation, planting, weed and pest control, and the marketing of contracts by farmers.

For procurement and disbursement, there would be no implementing agents, but rather the use of the pool of service providers on the database. Procurement would take place during September and October for the delivery of products.

The internal READ capacity was linked through dedicated district project coordinators to local extension officers and farmers on a daily basis to ensure timeous implementation of the crop plan. The monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework was in place. There were provincial district teams for monitoring and evaluation of the programme, supplemented by the DAFF and the provincial internal audit.

The risk management plan took into account potential hazards and annual frequencies which included frost, hailstorm and floods. The mitigation for this was crop insurance. For fires, the mitigation was farmers forming functional fire protection associations in their respective areas. For climate change, the mitigation was climate-smart farming. For theft, the mitigation was farmers taking part in local policing fora. For deteriorating market prices, the mitigation was contract marketing.

READ had mechanisation policy in place. The policy advocated the transfer of mechanisation packages to far mers after three years. It also allowed for contracting of planting services. 90 functional mechanisation packages were in good condition in preparation for planting. Farmers ensured the provision of tractor drivers and maintenance, whilst READ provided for service packages.

The main marketers were secondary cooperatives -- Senwes; Noordwes & Magalies Graan Kooporasie. Government-linked markets were still a challenge.

North West Province was 75% ready to implement the crop massification plan across the province for a targeted 14 000ha, in line with the APP for 2018/19. Resources and capacity building interventions were in place to render seamless operations.

 

Northern Cape Fetsa Tlala Programme

Mr Viljoen Mothibi; Head of Department: Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), Northern Cape, said that the Department as a lead agent in the sector, would champion land and agrarian transformation, promote and facilitate increased production, and provide expertise for improved livelihoods, sustainable rural development and food security for all.

There were currently 37 hectares for raisin grapes, four hectares for table grapes and 525 hectares for maize and wheat. There were 250 hectares for rooibos. District 1 (Frances Baardt) had 415 targeted hectares and 72 beneficiaries, while District 2 (Pixley Kaseme) had 110 targeted hectares and four beneficiaries. 67% of land use was for livestock production, which included 5.5 million sheep and 517 000 cattle. Crops were mainly maize, wheat, dry beans and ground nuts.

Mr Mothibi gave details of the Fetsa Tlala (“End Hunger”) project in the province, indicating the potential land and commodities that could be planted, and the timing for planting and cropping. Among the areas of focus of the Department were the Namakwa Irrigation Development, where there were vineyard developments for raisins and table grapes, although wine grapes were currently on hold owing to the low prices for wine.

Another project was the development of the rooibos industry in the Northern Cape, and the Nieuwouldtville Rooibos Pty (Ltd) was a business which was utilised as the anchor and catalyst for the overall project. The Department’s objective was the empowerment of emerging rooibos tea producers through increased production and participation in the entire value chain, with value-addition through processing. Plans included the expansion of the current tea plantations and infrastructure, improved production through better support structures, development of new and niche markets, community development and social responsibility programmes, and forward linkages for producers in the value chain. Rooibos grows mainly on the Suid Bokkeveld bordering the Western Cape. The total production area was greater than 3 500 ha, and accounted for 17% of national production.

Discussion

A Member said that most of the municipalities were facing the challenge of not being able to pay the current high electricity bills. How would this be solved?

Ms A Steyn (DA) agreed that the municipalities were facing challenges. This backlog was creating more challenges. What could be done going forward? If one looked at Appeldraai, the project indicated that these farmers should be sustainable. What was the DAFF doing to assist these farmers? When was the Committee going to get the report on Agridelight -- and what was the progress? Specific questions had been asked, and it should not take so long. In Groot Marico, it had been said that READ were relying on information from a local agricultural advisor -- was this the new Agridelight? Who was the Department using, and did it have the capacity to assist with these projects? It was all good and well to do fencing on farms, but the technical assistance that was needed was important. Who was responsible for this? Was there the capacity for this in the North West province?

The presentation stated that a project had been signed off by the beneficiaries. The Committee had heard in the Free State that officials almost had to force beneficiaries to sign off on business plans, and things were delivered to them before they even signed for it. What was the North West province doing to ensure this did not happen? This was why beneficiaries got things they did not ask for. How did one make sure that beneficiaries were signing properly? This was not to say that this was happening in the North West, but it was happening in the Free State.

What had been the impact of the drought? It was having an effect in the Free State, where some farmers were unable to get production loans, and because of years of drought, they were now being forced to sell their land. The banks were now repossessing their land. There were a number of farmers that were sitting with this problem. Did this problem exist in the North West? She recalled that the North West was expecting lower levels of rain which would affect both black farmers and white commercial farmers who may not be able to plant.

She wondered whether the national department had given READ funding for this season. Were they happy with the proposals and plans in place? Some provinces were not receiving funds, and North West was one of them. What did the 75% mean in terms of being ready? What was READ not ready for? Had the Onseepkans irrigation scheme in the Northern Cape been repaired? She said that there had been problems with canals, and asked about the cost. Was everything functional now? She acknowledged the good progress on Rooibos. What was the impact of the drought in the province? Had this led to more problems in agricultural land for animal farming? She stated that based on the missing report from Agridelight, there was a situation in the Northern Cape and Free State for which the MECs were not taking responsibility.           

Mr N Capa (ANC) said he wanted a reason for why things were not working in the field of social development. One could not have a situation where one asked a teacher why half the students did not pass, and the answer was because half of them had failed. Something had to be done. There were concerns around the disposal of obsolete equipment. He wanted to know about the process of the sale of obsolete equipment. There had been constant mention of the commercialisation of farmers -- was this the contribution of the province?

He wanted clarity on the readiness for the planting season, especially on the matter of procurement. September was already here. What stage was READ at for procurement and the readiness of the planting season? What was the timeline of what could be done and what could not be done? There must be a specific time for when input and stock was available. Why was there no mention of the involvement of the local municipalities in connection with concerns about fires? He wanted details on the availability of equipment for maize. Who would be providing this? Did the DAFF have any and if not, when would it be secured?

Mr W Maphanga (ANC) said that most farmers were finding it difficult to obtain water licences. Was there any progress with regard to this?  

Mr H Kruger (DA) wondered how many of the 14 000 hectares belonged to small scale farmers. How many co-operatives and small businesses were involved with the 14 000 hectares?

Mr P Maloyi (ANC) said he assumed the 14 000 hectares referred to farmers that READ were aggregating. That was why there was a different plan for all of them. READ had to ensure that agricultural land was quality in the North West province. He agreed with Ms Steyn on the concerns surrounding Agridelight. With Agridelight, the Committee had raised specific questions. The question was not just whether the contract had expired -- there were specific questions that needed to be addressed. The Committee had given READ certain responsibilities which had not been followed up, and asked the Chairperson to remind READ of the questions posed at the previous meeting. He also asked the MEC to open the markets for poor farmers in the Motloung farm piggery.  

Ms P Chueu (ANC) said she was disappointed that nothing had changed the legacy of apartheid. The North West was a province that was meant to employ a number of people in agriculture. There should not be unemployment. The 14 000 hectares must be utilised better. There must be a better strategy. Tlala was still being aggregated. There was no strategy to alleviate Tlala to ensure that farms were sustainable. What was the employment status of the beneficiaries? Some of the farmworkers were being transported on top of tractors. This was unacceptable. READ must do research on these farmworkers. The framework was still the same as the apartheid spatial framework. South Africa was in a new dispensation ,and things must change.

She had concerns with the budget and hectares allocated to the Dr Kenneth Kaunda district. In the Dr Ruth Mompati district there were fewer hectares, yet the budget was R12.5 million. Dr Kenneth Kaunda district, which had more hectares, had half that budget.  Why was READ spending more money on fewer hectares? How many women were employed in all the sectors? In agriculture, women did the ploughing. The unemployment rate in the Northern Cape, just like the North West province, was unacceptable. There must be clear programmes which allocated people to different jobs. There had not been a single province where there had been a concerted effort to bring people from urban land to rural land. There was no indication that this government was different to the last.

(At this stage, PMG experienced recording problems due to a loss of sound quality, resulting in limited coverage of the balance of the meeting).

The Chairperson said that the impact of drought and climate change must be mitigated for the farmers, and the national government would have to provide assistance.

 

Response by READ and DAFF

North West province

The Committee was told that one of the things that guided READ was the report of StatsSA regarding poverty. The programme of Fetsa Tlala answered this in the areas it identified. It was understandable that the Members wanted a clear plan which identifies beneficiaries and dealt with employment for women, youth and the disabled. As far as the issue of mechanisation was concerned, there would be solution.

Mr K Mabiletsa, Deputy Director: DAFF, North West, said that there had been an absence of inclusivity in the planning of the provinces. The inclusion of beneficiaries in the planning was not there. There had been a move to involve relevant stakeholders who were knowledge-based stakeholders, such as Grain SA and Agri SA. With mechanization, the charges had been different in different provinces, but READ was developing an adequate support policy. He was concerned about the emphasis on the drought, and was unsure that a solution could be offered.. Agriculture was primarily concerned with production. As far as the market was concerned, they were concerned with statistics. Women and youth must be at the forefront of production. Job creation was central to the national objectives of the government.          

Mr Mooketsa Ramasodi, Acting Director General, DAFF, said that he would deal with the problems raised by Ms Steyn. He indicated that at the previous meeting there had been a request from the Portfolio Committee for a report on Agridelight. From this report, DAFF had engaged with the province, yet could not find the report. It came to be known to DAFF that there were challenges surrounding getting the report from Agridelight. Getting the report from Agridelight was part and parcel of a Memorandum of Understanding between READ and Agridelight. After the expiry of the contract with Agridelight, they had been meant to submit a close-out report to the province, which they had not done. The province had taken Agridelight to court to get the report. This was the status of the problem. DAFF had agreed with the beneficiaries and READ that for each and every programme, DAFF would look at the progress of the projects. Over 90% of all the projects had been approved by DAFF and the funds had been released last week to the province. However, it had been indicated to the province that there were a few areas which needed to be rectified. Quite a few had been given the go-ahead. There was one where there were strict instructions that a project should not go ahead. The engineers on the project had pointed out structural constraints. DAFF would submit a progress report to the Chairperson of the Committee on assisting the province to do certain things, such as the capacity and implementation of projects.

Dr Mokaila referred to the question surrounding the electricity levels in municipalities, and said he was not aware of any specific municipalities. However, READ might have to go back and find alternatives to resolve the situation. The municipalities had a responsibility to assist the farmers, but would depend on their capacity. The local agricultural advisor was the entry point to farmers. Here, READ could find out whether challenges or problems existed. READ did not rely just on local agricultural advisors, but they were the entry point for other professionals who could assist the farmers. This would depend on the nature of the challenge.

On the question relating to the signing of documents by officials, READ had not picked this one up. In such situations, READ would investigate and monitor the projects. A practical example of this was demonstrated by the projects relating to hectares and the key results areas (KRAs). They would work through all the hectares and measure liability and so forth. READ would continue to improve on this.

On the question of the why READ was not 100% ready, he said this was related to the 14 000 hectares. Procurement was on the way, and the delivery would commence in September. This would take six to eight weeks to conclude. READ was slightly behind on procurement. Some of the projects had not been achieved, as stated by Mr Ramasodi. However, READ was ready to commence on the projects for the 2018/19 year.

On the social development report that was still outstanding, he agreed that this was unacceptable. However, the process of report was still important. READ would note this in the progress report.

On the question of the obsolete equipment, there were engagements with farmers. As this was a policy matter, he was unaware of what might happen. However, he assumed that it depended on which farmers had machinery. The matter surrounding water licences was too big for this Committee, and other people/groups needed to assist in this regard. On the crop massification plan, READ was thankful for the funds released by the DAFF.

On the problem of procurements, the term or the period would only happen from September to October. However, a distribution programme needed to be drilled out. The mechanisation problem was something that had to be worked out. Regarding the involvement of municipalities in fires, they interacted with farmers and liaised with authorities.

On the question of the 14 000 hectares, there were about 4 600 hectares that would be used for commercial farmers and the rest would be used for smaller farmers. Some of these would have co-operatives. Furthermore, they would either be in land reform projects or communal land. He agreed with Mr Maloyi in saying that they were not holistic.

The report presented at the meeting had been drawn up to show the contribution of the Department. READ had been allocated R46 million, and a plan would be drawn up. The private sector was playing a pivotal role. Varying stakeholders, such as Grain SA and the red meat associations contributed to this by providing statistics.

Over a number of years, tractors had been distributed to farmers on the basis of a policy which had been approved by the Department. READ was eager as a province to standardise. Some tractors were old, and some were just functional tractors. In terms of this policy, there were resources for maintenance. The owners ensured that there were skilled drivers.

On the Agridelight question, READ had been requested to provide a service level agreement, which had been submitted. He noted that there had been specific questions addressed. Some information could not be provided, which was why Agridelight had been taken to court. Interventions needed to be made and the Department had not been able to follow up on this matter. The Department had to be afforded an opportunity to respond.

He said there were problems surrounding equity. More women and youths need to be involved.

The difference in the budget with regard to the Dr Ruth Mompati and Dr Kenneth Kaunda districts had been decided on the basis of irrigation and other factors.             

Ms Thlape said that the problem surrounding the electricity bill for NW 405 local municipality and the Cetiso project had been that the bill was too high. There had been no concrete evidence as to what Cetiso was owing. The engagements had resulted in the municipality having to consolidate. If the municipality could not consolidate their bills, READ would be able to pay them off, as had been the case with Appeldraai. READ would continue to monitor Appledraai, as they were on prepaid,to check if they could consolidate their bill. If they did not have a council resolution or policy for amnesty, then READ would be able to pay off their bills like Appledraai.

On the matter of the personal advisory extension officers, there had been a concerted effort through joint work on problems surrounding water usage, for example. There had been an indication that the Department of Water and Sanitation would decentralise the authority to regional officers, but this had not materialised. She had heard that the Minister had elevated this, which would ensure the decentralisation of authority to regional officers. Provinces would kick start this approval.

She said that she appreciated the helpful guidance and interventions from the Portfolio Committee. She agreed with Mr Maloyi regarding the opening of the market at Motloung piggery farm. The support from the DAFF nationally had been immense. The procurement would be accelerated for the outstanding inputs. This would form part of the 25% which had been released with the CASP funding. This should be completed by 8 October 2018. Ultimately this should contribute to solving the 25% in readiness for the planting season. The involvement of farmers was key.

She acknowledged that the unemployment rate was disappointing. The provincial and national departments needed to support projects. Furthermore, if farmers worked with agricultural enterprises, the Department should be able to deal with the unemployment at some stage. Seasonal job creation could not be relied upon, and that was why small projects were necessary to help farmers deal with the unemployment.

On the question of the 14 000 hectares, the presentation had indicated the jobs that were being created. However, she admitted that there needed to be sustainable jobs. Agricultural land was being contested at the moment. READ was engaging with various stakeholders such as local municipalities, to expand agricultural land, hence the 14 000 hectares. Agricultural land needed to be used for production. READ would look into how improvements could be made by bringing people back on to this land. READ was competing with development and informal settlements for agricultural land. In order to bring the holistic picture, commercial farmers would be brought in to consolidate to reach the target necessary for the North West, which was one million hectares.                

Response by DALRRD

Mr Mothiba said that one of the reasons why the Northern Cape was only 45 % ready was because of what was available. Secondly, planting would begin in November after the harvesting of wheat. Furthermore, there was reliance on irrigation and not necessarily rain. These areas used to be under-managed. For this programme, irrigation would be primarily used.

There was a drought prevalent in the western part of the province which was particularly seen in Namakwa, but there was a programme to manage it. In terms of preparation, local municipalities had gone to the premier, which had resulted in developing better national disaster management. The Department was now in the process of operations to combat the drought. Farmers could apply for help.

Regarding the national mechanisation programme, DALRRD had set up and procured certain requirements. Land had been acquired. In one sector, somebody had owned 30 000 hectares. There were subsistence farmers who had their own programmes. Programmes had been created with the DAFF.

The meeting was told that in the Northern Cape, there was over 100 00 hectares under irrigation. The majority of the land where there was the Fetsa Tlala programme, the irrigation would be largely owned by commercial farmers. However, the Department was beginning to look at land ownership. The challenge was land reform for the whole country so that more people could participate in the economy.

Regarding the use of green energy, there was a factory that benefited from the Fetsa Tlala programme. It was powered by solar power. It could provide additional electricity. The Northern Cape was taking advantage of green energy for small farmers.

There was a development for the construction of a new irrigation scheme. Onseepkans was part of this. Private land was being looked at. Hopefully there would be developments over the next 10 years.          

Gauteng presentation

The meeting was advised that the Gauteng MEC was not present. The Portfolio Committee decided that the Gauteng presentation would not go ahead.

Closing remarks

Mr Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, expressed disappointment at the MEC not being present at the meeting. He said that a report must be submitted for farmers. DAFF had had a meeting with the Fetsa Tlala programme director, and they were committed. The focus must be changed to school nutrition. The Department needed details of how many farmers were in the programme, and what development stage they were at. A report must be submitted in this regard. Provinces must be involved. There must be a common understanding of the goal.

The meeting was adjourned.

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