One Household One Hectare; Recapitalization & Development; Land Development Support & Landcare programmes: Department briefing

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

10 September 2019
Chairperson: Mr Z Nkosi Mandela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on the One Household One Hectare Programme; The Land Development Support Programme (LDS) & LandCare programmes. The Recapitalisation and Development Programme (RECAP) was introduced in order to address the challenges by targeting properties acquired since 1994 through Restitution and Redistribution programmes. The LDS programme, its objectives, challenges and proposed solutions were outline. The successes and challenges of the LandCare programme were also explained to the Committee.

The Committee requested that the LandCare information be broken down according to provinces, with specific information on districts and areas where LandCare has been implemented, the beneficiaries in those communities, the skills imparted, the total hectares where relevant and the approved budget and expenditure. The Committee said that the Junior Care project was all very impressive but asked the Department what it had done in these projects and to provide a list of the Junior Care schools per province. Members said that the presentation does not help nor show an understanding of the Department’s work. Members asked if any money has been paid over to the commodity organisations; What was the money spent on if farmers that are part of this programme have not seen any action yet R55 million has been spent; and what is the challenge faced by the Department that caused it not to be able to redistribute land in subsequent years as it did in 2011. The Committee enquired about the court judgement in the case brought by David Rakase where he challenged a lease he has held for 17 years.  The Committee was concerned about whether the Department was going to be abiding by the judgement or appealing it, and what impact would that have on current and future leases. A further concern was whether that judgement might lead to leases being reviewed.

Members asked why the Limpopo Province was the only province that was supported in the One Household One Hectare Programme and what had happened to other provinces; they asked for clear criteria for the selection of beneficiaries; how was the Department addressing the challenge of the lack of access to the market for the farmers. Members complained that no training was taking place both for farmers and beneficiaries in KZN and mentors were disappearing after getting paid. The Committee said that the oversight visit to KZN was an eye opener as most of the projects spoken about by the Department did not exist. The Committee needed information on the households impacted by the One Household One Hectare programme so that they could be visited. The Committee asked if in their support for rural farm dwellers, were the cooperatives supported too; how many were supported and what skills were transferred; and if indeed skills were transferred, was a quality management system provided so that they could enter the global market.

Members questioned the role and effectiveness of the Valuer General in the Department and asked how his resignation would have an impact on the further purchase of farms by the Department. The Committee asked what were the reasons for the poor infrastructure; what were the challenges in the Blended Finance Model; what will the difference be between LDS and the now abandoned RECAP, or is LDS an improved version of RECAP; does LDS have its own budget or was it operating under similar provisions; does the Department have a policy that guides the implementation of LDS; and with regard to the pilot involving 262 farmers, was this a roll-out or a pilot. The Committee was concerned that mentors were being paid R15 000 per month yet during the oversight tour none of them were seen and farmers only see them three times a year. It was of worrying for Members that there was no set criterion is for beneficiaries other than the business plans they submitted. Members felt that there needed to business plans that showed how one farmer was farmer chosen over another. They asked:  Are we assisting our sugar cane farmers to make them competitive again?

The Committee asked what was the Department doing to ensure that there was no ‘double dipping’ and that smooth and seamless support was offered to the farmers; on the RECAP programme what then was the position of the Department with regard to the Blended Finance Model; how were farmers’ concerns going to be addressed because they were asking Parliament questions about the Blended Finance Model pronounced by the President; and if the Committee could get a copy of the MOU with the commodity group; what the policy outcomes were of the One Household One Hectare Programme; was tenure security per household and access to land for agricultural production realised; and in what way has the policy contributed to improving the tenure security and access to agricultural land and the landless in SA.

The Committee asked for a full account of what the money was spent on with farmers, and in which district and local municipality they belonged. Members stated that to ensure thorough oversight and to hold the Department accountable, it required the information in terms of provinces, districts, project sights and the number of households in terms of youth, women and people with disabilities; what performance and target reports were achieved; the budget and expenditure as well as challenges and mitigation strategies.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed all present, thanked the Department for their presence and stated that because of time constraints and the enormity of the presentation to be dealt with the Department should start with the presentations.

Farmer Support / Post Settlement Programmes

Ms Redani Sadiki, Acting Director-General  (DG) in the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform; in giving the  background of the Farmer Support / Settlement Programmes said that during 2009, the Department undertook an evaluation study of the implementation of the Land Reform Programs since their inception. It identified that many land reform projects (numerous properties acquired through various sub-programs) were:

-not successful and thus in distress or lying fallow;

-lacking adequacy and appropriate post-settlement support; and

-were on the verge of being auctioned or had been sold due to the collapse of the project, resulting in a reversal of the original objectives of land reform;

The Recapitalisation and Development Programme (RECAP) was therefore introduced in order to address these challenges by targeting properties acquired since 1994 through Restitution and Redistribution programmes including privately owned land; and aims to contribute to the transformation of the rural economy through establishment of enterprise and industrial development in the various agricultural value chains to ensure national and household food security to promote job creation. In the absence of the budget for this programme, 25% of Land Acquisition allocation was made available for the implementation of this programme. A new programme named 1hh1ha was introduced in 2016 and the objective of the programme was to provide the much needed production support to subsistence farmers at household level targeting farm dwellers, state land residents, restitution claimants and residents in communal areas with the main objective of the programme being to contribute to the transformation of the rural economy, poverty alleviation and rural livelihoods.

The LDS Programme

The Recapitalisation and development programme has since been suspended in 2017/18; the intention was to develop an integrated farmer development support programme to address the recommendations made by the DPME Evaluation Report on CASP, Recapitalisation and Development and other farmer support programmes. The Department conducted a detailed farm assessment on all Land Redistribution farms acquired through the Proactive Land Acquisition strategy (PLAS) in partnership with ARC/Entsika consortium. Through this process a total of 262 farms were identified as a pilot for the provision of support to make these farms productive. The Department prioritized these farms to contribute to the stimulus package announced by the Honourable President in his State of The Nation Address. In 2018/19 the Department then introduced the Land Development Support Policy/ Programme (LDS), which is aimed at providing comprehensive farm development support to Land reform farms and addressing the gaps identified during the farm assessment process. Furthermore, the LDS programme was introduced after the planned partnership with the Land Bank in terms of the Blended Financing Model had challenges in supporting these farms as part of the 262 stimulus package. The programme provides a full grant support to farmers and it is implemented in partnership with the commodity organisations to realize the objectives of the Black Producer Commercialization Programme, however, the task has already commenced with the development of the Blended/ Integrated Producer Support model by the New department with an endeavour to integrate all farmer/producer support programmes or initiatives.

Objectives of the LDS programme

  • Assist/ support black farmers (technical & financially) to be sustainable, reach full production capacity and develop their agricultural enterprises to be commercially viable;
  • Contribute towards improving productivity of land acquired and/or supported farms, with the ultimate result of: Increase in employment or retention of existing jobs; Food security from the household to country level; Improved rural livelihoods and participation;
  • Assist black farmers to build their financial profile to improve their access to finance, especially in the private sector, and ultimately eliminate dependency on grant funding; Improve coordination and alignment of producer support initiatives and minimize and/or eradicate duplications and wastages; Improved control measures on the utilization of grant funding by the farmer.

Challenges

-Government SCM processes are not flexible enough to mitigate / be responsive to some of challenges faced by the industry.

-Poor state of some of the properties requiring huge capital investment to get them back into production

-Climate change, frequent drought or extreme weather and disasters

-High and inflated prices when government procures goods and services on behalf of farmers

-Financial exclusion of black farmers by financial institutions due to poor credit records, thus creating a burden for government 

Proposed Solutions

Department is continuously engaging the National Treasury to reconsider the condition and allow for exceptional cases;

The work concluded by the Department’s Programme Management Unit has indeed contributed in lessoning the extent of the investment required, by clearly identifying the areas that require intervention;

For the first time the Department has compelled farmers to include a provision for insurance in the business plans at least during the period of its investment. However, farmers will be encouraged to do so even beyond the intervention period using their own funds;

One of the reasons for the partnership with commodity organisations is to exploit the rapport that exists between them and suppliers to buy in bulk and enjoy the discounts for this benefit by both the farmer and government; and

The current partnership between the Department and commodity organisations is aimed at providing a comprehensive support so that by the time the support is withdrawn, farmers are able to run sustainable enterprises and have built the required credit profile to enable them to access loans in future.

The Animal and Veld Management Programme (AVMP) and the River Valley Catalytic Programme (RVCP)

Mr Nasele Mehlomakulu, Acting Deputy Director at the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; in his presentation stated that the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme’s  (CRDP’s)  vision and strategy is affirmed by the National Development Plan (NDP), which emphasizes that, “South Africa’s rural communities should have greater opportunities to participate fully in the economic, social and political life of the country.” This is to be achieved through a differentiated strategy that focuses on:

-Agricultural development, based on successful land reform, employment creation and strong environmental safeguards.

-Quality basic services, particularly education, health care and public transport. Well-functioning and supported communities enable people to seek economic opportunities.

-In areas with greater economic potential, industries such as agro-processing, tourism, fisheries (in coastal areas) and small enterprise development should be developed with market support.

Both programmes provide infrastructural support to commonages, communal areas, traditional areas and to farmers occupying state owned facilities (where requested by Land Reform), the differences, although slight, being the following:

The AVMP, focuses on bringing arable and grazing land into production by providing the entire required infrastructure like fencing, boreholes, irrigation systems, cattle handling and dipping facilities, dams etcetera. In addition the AVMP supported re-greening and soil rehabilitation;

The RVCP focuses on the catalytic utilisation of river systems to bring land into production and would typically develop irrigation schemes with all associated infrastructure; and

From 2009 to 2019, government has spent over R983 million for both programmes and the Department has delivered 1 131 projects.

Successes

-The DRDLR has the ability to procure and deliver services much faster than Agriculture as it doesn’t have concurrent functions. Department of Agriculture National makes allocations through DORA and has very little control on how and where the Provincial Departments of Agriculture utilise the funding.

-The DRDLR has provided 263 stock water infrastructure facilities.

-The DRDLR has provided 137 boreholes

-The DRDLR has been able to fence 340 projects.

-The DRDLR has been able to provide 47 animal handling facilities

-The DRDLR has supported 20 irrigation schemes

Impact

-Estimated number of over 2000Ha fenced

-27 150 jobs have been created through construction

-21 904 Households have benefited through rural development projects

-21 904 Farmers supported with Infrastructure

-Skills Developed: 11 430

Challenges

  • Farmer needs in communal, commonage and traditional areas far exceed the available allocations in government and
  • Agriculture has from time to time indicated that the level of service provided by DRDLR sometimes exceeded the level that Agriculture could provide

Overlaps between Landcare programme and the AVMP & RVCP

Both Agriculture and DRDLR programmes work with farmers but the biggest difference is how the spatial targeting and intervention programmes are packaged.

The LandCare programme

Mr Ramakgale Mampholo, Chief Director at Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; in his presentation said that the mandate of the LandCare programme is to provide for the maintenance of the production potential of land and control over the utilisation of natural resources of the Republic of South Africa in order to promote the conservation of soil, water sources and vegetation and for the combating of weeds and invader plants and for matters connected therewith. LandCare is a community based initiative underpinned by the goal of optimising productivity and sustainable use of natural resources. The purpose of the programme is to enhance a sustainable conservation of natural resources through a community based participatory approach, to create job opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) model, to improve food security and well being of society as guided by six indivisible principles. LandCare focus areas are SoilCare, WaterCare, VeldCare, Conservation agriculture and JuniorCare.

Successes

  • The business plan processes within LandCare uses a bottom up approach where land users play a critical role in grafting the business plan. Communities will have needs and Government officials then assist. Business plans will be presented in Provincial Assessment Panels and recommended to the National Assessment Panel for approval and funding.
  • During the 2018/2019 financial year, a total of 65 LandCare committees were established.
  • During the MTSF (2014-2019), a total of 14 063 work opportunities were created by the LandCare Programme.
  • The Programme managed to implement 640 projects which was comprised of Conservation Agriculture, VeldCare, SoilCare, WaterCare and JuniorCare

Closing Remarks

The LandCare programme facilitates community livelihoods while ensuring the government’s intention to manage natural agricultural resources. 

The programme is advancing Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 on sustainable food production and 15 on Land Degradation Neutrality and related National Development Plans to move away from destructive industrial agriculture through Climate Smart Conservation Agriculture.

Discussion

The Chairperson thanked the DG and the Officials for the presentation and said that before Members will engage in the documents presented, he would want to refer to the presentation on LandCare about which a letter was sent to the Department. The Committee requested that the LandCare information be broken down according to provinces, with specific information on districts and areas where LandCare has been implemented, the beneficiaries in those communities, the skills imparted, the total hectares where relevant and the approved budget and expenditure.  He said he never takes it for granted where he is from which is a tiny village Mveso in the Mthatha district  in the Eastern Cape, and he never wanted to escape the reality of his place of birth. When the Department says it spent R82billion for instance, the money needs to be followed as to what it was spent for and the resultant impact created. The pictures put in the presentation of soil care, water care, Junior Care etcetera are all very impressive but what have you done in these projects? Junior Care has to be in schools but where are these schools? We want a list of the Junior Care schools per province. The presentation does not help nor show the understanding of the Department’s work.  A letter was sent on the 27 August to the Department listing all information the Committee is looking for and till now no reply was received and the  presentations does not address what the Committee needed.

Mr Mike Mlengana, Director-General (DG): Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), replied that the information being asked for up to the village and individual level with contact numbers of those people is available. That exact review was carried out by himself on Friday however, if just the village information is provided, the volume of information cannot fit into the presentation just given. But if the Committee requires this information now, it is available and the Department will send it to the Committee. What the Department is doing now is to re-align with the Department of Rural Development so as to maximise the available resources. The Department is also being monitored at the SDG level; it hosts LandCare conferences and receives visits from the United Nations (UN). They, the UN, defined LandCare as the bedrock of livelihood in agriculture. That information is available but due to its bulkiness, they do not know how to present it to the Committee.

The Chairperson told the DG to not be shy of burdening the Committee with information. He reminded the DG what he told the Committee at the beginning of the 6th parliament, that he hoped the Honourable Members have read all the information sent to them, so no matter how thick the information pile, it should still be sent. In the case of Junior Care, at least three of the schools that benefited from the programme should be listed so that they could be visited during oversight tours. This will enable the Members to gain an insight into what was happening on the ground.  Tracking the money, though necessary, is not important at all. The Committee would rather have the knowledge and capacity bestowed on our people being of primary importance. He said that questions of clarity starting from the first presentation can be asked by Members.

Mr M Montwedi (EFF) said that in the presentation, it was stated that the Department had entered into a ten year agreement with commodity organisations. In March this year the Department approved some of the projects for implementation with some commodity organisations. In the North West Province the farmers engaged with are still frustrated because nothing has happened thus far yet the Department is saying that commodity organisations on the ground are secure. Has any money been paid over to the commodity organisations? Farmers that are part of this programme have not seen any action yet R55 million has been spent.  What was the money spent on? When the Committee undertook an oversight visit to KZN, a similar presentation was given stating that the number of land parcels redistributed especially in 2011 was more than other years.  If that is the case, what is the challenge faced by the Department that caused it not to be able to redistribute land in subsequent years as it did in 2011? Recently there was a court judgement on a case brought by David Rakase where he challenged a lease he has held for 17 years and he offered to buy the land. Is the Department abiding by the judgement or appealing it? What impact will that have on current and future leases? Would that judgement not lead to leases being reviewed? Still on the matter of leasing, during the oversight tour there was a farmer who was not aware of how much he was paying towards the lease of a farm. Nationally and on a departmental level, how much revenue is generated from all leases? How do you get to deal with farmers not paying? One challenge mentioned by you is the poor state of infrastructure in some of the farms bought. What are the reasons for poor infrastructure? That brings us to the case of the Valuer General in the Department who has since resigned. How would that gap impact the further purchase of farms by the Department?

Ms M Tlhape (ANC) said that according to the presentation it is clear that one is no longer talking of RECAP as it has since been suspended since 2017/18. The Land Development Support programme (LDS) was established in its place because of the challenges associated with the Blended Finance Model. What were the challenges in the Blended Finance Model? What will the difference be between LDS and the now abandoned RECAP, or is LDS an improved version of RECAP? RECAP had no budget, but 25% of land acquisition was taken as a budget for ‘RECAP’; does LDS have its own budget or was it operating under similar provisions? Do we have a policy that guides the implementation of LDS? With regard to the pilot involving 262 farmers; is this a roll-out or a pilot?

Mr P Sindane (EFF) apologised for coming late and said that he is interested in the LDS where 11 500 farmers were supported in the sugar farming industry. Knowing that this sector is one of the highly monopolised agricultural sectors in the country; where are these black farmers located for oversight purposes?

 Ms B Tshwete (ANC) said that regarding the LDS, the document she perused stated that in 2016/17 only the Limpopo province was supported in the One Household One Hectare Programme. What happened to other provinces? Also there are no clear criteria for the selection of beneficiaries. Can that be clarified? No training is taking place both for farmers and beneficiaries in KZN and mentors are disappearing after getting paid. How is the Department addressing the challenge of the lack of access to the market for the farmers? The various units that make up this Department are still working in silos, are there any inter-departmental plans and programme to address it?

Ms N Mahlo (ANC) supported the Chairperson in requesting for a detailed report from the Department so that the projects could be visited by the Committee. The oversight visit to KZN was an eye opener as most projects spoken about by the Department did not exist. In the household One Hectare Programme, the Department said it was initiated to promote security, food security and improved rural livelihood. The Committee needs information on the households impacted by the programme so that they could be visited. In their support for rural farm dwellers, were the cooperatives supported too? How many were supported and what skills were transferred? If indeed skills were transferred, was a quality management system provided so that they could enter the global market? On the LDS, are there gaps identified for Parliament as policy makers to fill? On the programme that was piloted on 262 farms, what was the rationale behind it? Why was KZN alone chosen for the majority of the farm for the pilot projects while other provinces had two or three projects? How many women participated in the projects?

Ms T Breedt (FF+) was worried in the Department’s way of thinking in the One Household One Hectare Project. Why the programme was only executed in Limpopo when the plan is to commercialise it? The issue of mentors being paid R15 000 per month yet during the oversight tour none of them were seen. No impact could be seen and no skills transfer has taken place. The mentors are paid monthly yet the farmers only see them three times in a year. How then can we measure the skills transferred to the mentors and the extension officers? It is worrying that no set criterion is set for beneficiaries other than the business plans they submitted. What needs to be in the business plan and how is one farmer chosen over another? Are we assisting our sugar cane farmers to make them competitive again?

Ms K Mahlatsi (ANC) appreciated the presentation but said that it did not paint a rosy picture. The One Household One Hectare Programme was initiated in 2015, the presentation did not specify whether it was succeeding or failing. It did not also say if it should continue and if changes should be made and what needs to happen going forward.  Given the recommendations on the (Agricultural Research Council (ARC) Report, has the Department acted on it? How much was spent compiling this report? If implementation was carried out based on the recommendations of the report, what are the success stories? Supply Chain Management (SCM) processes was said to be a Departmental challenge since 2015, what efforts are being made to ameliorate it with the National Treasury?  If yes, what progress has been made thus far? The fact that farmers are finding it difficult to secure loans from Land bank because of their specific criteria; did the Department not know about this criteria beforehand?

Mr N Masipa (DA) was concerned with the fragmented service delivery being provided in executing the RECAP programme. Two departments (Agriculture and Rural Development) are merging so what is being done to ensure that there will be no duplication of functions as it relates to support for the farmers? This is because of the multiplicity of programmes (CASP, MAFISA, and RECAP etcetera) being provided by different departments. What is the Department doing to ensure that there is no double dipping and that a smooth and seamless support is offered to the farmers? On RECAP, in the last Committee meeting, we were informed that the Blended Finance Model was stopped due to suspected corruption but that it will be brought back again; but again today it is stated that it has stopped completely.  What then is the position of the Department with regard to Blended Finance? How are farmers concerns going to be addressed because they are asking Parliament questions about the Blended Finance Model pronounced by the President? On commodity support, the Department has indicated that there is an MOU in place. Can the Committee get a copy of the MOU with the commodity group?

Mr N Capa (ANC) said that it was his understanding of The One Household One Hectare Programme that every household will receive one hectare of farmland. The figures achieved are not encouraging after all these years. If it is not the case, it is unacceptable and if it is the case then the Committee needs an explanation about the issue of strategic partners and mentors because they seem to be the only ones benefiting to the detriment of the farmers. There are cases where those who are strategic partners are employees in the farms and how is this being addressed?

Ms A Steyn (DA) asked the Department if they knew that the Public Amendment Act was changed and became law from 01 April this year. The law says that from April this year, people could be held liable for money that was not spent correctly. This is being reiterated because the Committee has seen it in KZN when people come in front of the Committee to say they did not know this or that or that they will follow up on things. Was there a forensic investigation on RECAP in this Department? If yes where is it? Ms Magkora was charged; where are we in the investigations?   Can we get a full list of all farms where money was spent on RECAP, who bought what, and for and for how much? We hardly get a breakdown of how much was spent by the Department of Agriculture on RECAP in their presentations. In KZN the Committee was told that the Department spent R5 million on a single RECAP programme. Information provided to the Committee was always fragmented and that has to be worked on. Who decided that RECAP should now be called LDS? In the last eleven years the Committee has seen almost eight programmes and it cannot even keep up. KZN received most of the funding on the old RECAP, but looking closely, only 15% of farms were supported in KZN so why was so much money spent there and nothing in Western Cape?

The Chairperson asked what the policy outcomes were of the One Household One Hectare Programme. Is tenure security per household and access to land for agricultural production realised? In what ways has the policy contributed to improving the tenure security and access to agricultural land and the landless in SA?  Is there a criterion that guides the policy of selecting beneficiaries for the One Household One Hectare Programme? On the performance report of this programme since 2016-19, it shows no accountability as envisaged in the Constitution. Are there any budgets, targets and expenditure reports in this regard? It seems to speak to only a total of 7 788 households that have been supported and says nothing about accountability which seems to appear as a defeat. To ensure thorough oversight and to hold the Department accountable, the Committee will require the information in terms of provinces, districts, project sights and the number of households in terms of youth, women and people with disabilities assisted. What performance and target reports were achieved, the budget and expenditure as well as challenges and mitigation strategies.

Response

In her response, Ms Sadiki stated that regarding the ten year agreement with commodity organisations, farmers in Doctor Ruth, North West Province and other places are still frustrated because nothing has happened thus far.  Money has not been given to commodity organisations and the Department has so far spent R55 million. A full account of what the money was spent on with which farmer, in which district and the local municipality they belonged to is available, and will be submitted to the Committee.  There has been a delay in implementation for a number reasons one of which led to the cancellation of RECAP and that has frustrated the farmers. When the Department transfers money, the farmers utilise it not for the purpose for which it is meant so a model of holding accounts was developed.  In this model, money is transferred into a bank account that is managed by a financial institution. It is the farmer and commodity organisation that will co-sign and when the Department receives that, an instruction is sent to the bank to release the money. That process took longer than was anticipated and that is the cause of the delay and farmers accused the Department of being slow. The process is not complete but because of the fast approach of the planting season, the Department has agreed to release half of their money to them for now although proof has yet to be shown that work has been done. 

On the reason why the Department did not move fast in re-distributing land, or as fast as was done in 2011; the biggest reason is that the money was cut from land acquisition to implement the LDS. Again, from 2015 the office of the Valuer General was introduced to value land that is just and equitable in comparison to the market value. Most of the valuations are being rejected and this led the Department to buy less land. Farmers withdrew their land from the market once the valuation has been done. 

On the David Rakase case, the Department has offered to buy the portion of land he was using and he refused that offer.  It has to be remembered that he leased the land from the former Bophuthatswana homeland, and under the new democratic dispensation the land was then transferred to the RSA and then to this Department. He was not alone when he was given a lease; it was the community and himself.  It will be unjust to discuss that case here because there are other communities involved. Before going to the hearings the Department offered to sell him the portion he was using which he refused.

With regard to the issue about farmers leasing land but unaware of what they were paying; the Department stated that they all knew because the Department had signed leases and in the leases it was stated the money they ought to pay, and those who did not pay anything were labour tenants who paid one Rand. If they signed and were not paying, the steps to be taken were aligned to the Treasury regulations. This was all stated in the lease agreement. It is true that it takes long to finalise the process of buying the farms. The Department is working on a system of acquiring land through auctions. The door for RECAP has closed except where the Department is committed and that too is being finalised because RECAP used to be paid over a period of five years. The LDS is a departmental policy and has in it the Blended Finance Model of One House One Hectare all aimed at supporting land whether restarted or redistributed, it all made up this policy. The Department proposed that It be invited to present this policy to Members.

One of the challenges of the Blended Finance Model was that of corruption and this was the main reason the policy was relooked at. The LDS and RECAP both deal with land development support but the only problem with RECAP is that it gets paid over five years while the LDS rather uses a business plan to determine what must be paid, when and where.  With the LDS the negative lessons learned from RECAP were improved upon.

On the challenges identified and ironed out by the two departments merging, Ms Sadiki said yes, even last week the Department was looking at eliminating the duplication of functions. Different areas are going to be ironed out such as Human Resources, Finance, infrastructure and some of the questions asked by Members are being dealt with through a Committee set up for this purpose. This process will be completed by 31 March 2020 with implementation from 01 April 2020. The MOU entered with the National Agricultural Council (NAMAC) will be provided to the Committee.

There was a forensic investigation on the RECAP with the case of Ms Magkoda. This case was referred to the SIU and they have not finalised their investigations as yet. She was charged on a referral not on a report. Ms Magkoda was disciplined and dismissed. She then went to arbitration and won and has been reinstated.   The Department will provide a full list of the RECAP farms, amounts spent and where the projects are located.

The Chairperson said for the sake of time, follow-up questions on the other two presentations could be asked and the Department should write them down, compile written responses and send them to the Committee secretary. Ms Sadiki was commended for answering all the questions.

Follow-up questions

Ms Steyn said with regard to the LandCare programme, the Department should furnish the Committee with one flagship project they feel they have achieved their objective with in the LandCare programme so that Members could go there to see for themselves if it was working properly. The bottom up approach should be revisited rather than the Department making its own evaluation of sites that were suitable in which to situate their projects.  Every year the budget for this programmes was under spent because people do not know the existence of these programmes. The conclusion is that there is no properly functioning LandCare programme, it should rather be said that what they were doing was an EPWP programme.

Mr Capa said the Department talked of assistance to schools; the Committee would like to see instances of practical assistance to schools as it relates to Junior Care. While at school, Agriculture was meant for those who did not perform well academically in Standard six. This attitude was inherited and pervasive in our society and should be changed and eradicated by the Department. Is it the farmers that initiate the business plans or is it the commodity group that assists them? It would be nice to have structures in the communities that will look after these projects. Linked to this too is the  indigenous knowledge of inhabitants.  

Mr Masipa asked what informed the budget for LandCare. Travelling to Limpopo one could not help but notice deforestation taking place and this is where LandCare is actually needed. The community should be informed of this programme for meaningful participation.

Ms Mahlatsi found a clear alignment, what progress is being made and how long will the process duplication of roles looking at the presentations. Though the DG said they are looking at issues of re- take? There was an issue about land under irrigation in the presentation. The departments seem to contradict each other. The Department said there is the potential 80 000 hectares for land under irrigation while the NDP says there is the potential to have a bigger scale in terms of land. What informs this information? The Committee is not impressed by the pictures in the presentation; details are needed. The presentation only gives a helicopter approach on issues. The last two presentations did not even mention the challenges faced in implementing the programmes as if it is doing very well. In the Junior Care programme, is there coordination between yourselves and the Department of Basic Education or is it done on an ad-hoc basis?

Ms Breedt said that the EPWP programme in the Free State is a money dump; the Department gives these wonderful figures of temporary employment without any skills imparted to make them employable. In the LandCare programme, how are the participants trained, what skills is transferred and what are they being trained for? These programmes just seem to be elaborate schemes where money is wasted. How are the schools programmes being implemented? Is it built into the school’s curriculum?

Ms Mahlo wanted an intensification of the communication between the farmers and the communities because of the breakdown in communication discovered during the oversight tour. She said that the Committee wanted all the reports it had requested so that they could assist the Department because all parties were working for the benefit of the people. Are there quality management systems, policies and procedures in all the projects the Department implements? The commodity organisations do not work for the benefit our people. The office of the Valuer General needs to be capacitated as a matter of urgency because they have only two staff Members.

Ms T Mbabama (DA) asked to have samples of the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) of the grains and livestock commodity groups that the Department partners with. A suggestion was made for the use of vernacular community radio stations and the SABC to disseminate information about some these programmes. A lot of people are not aware of the programmes as it is. The Acting DG Ms Sadiki was congratulated for being very effective and efficient and her passion for her job was praised.

Mr Sindane was interested in the effect of climate change that led to some of the farms failing. He asked how much has been lost as a result and what is the current status of those projects. What was planted on those farms? The farms in the pictures might just be visited by the Committee so the Department should make sure the pictures used depicted the reality on the farms.  

Ms Tlhape disputed that the policing in the AVMP and the RVCP programmes was linked to the CRDP. Based on the objectives of the programmes and what was seen in KZN if it were so, the Committee would have seen a better situation. The observation is that the Department is good in starting a programme but then abandons it for new terminology and a replacement programme. If the programmes were implemented as planned, it would have lifted the communities pressures. The temporary jobs being created by the programmes involving the research units, could help to make them sustainable.

Mr Montwedi wanted to know from the Department  if there is any plan of taking the EPWP workers into the Department ’s employment? This people are needed and long term plan for employment for them must be explored. Is there any proactive plan in identifying alien trees and removing them? On revitalisation of the irrigation scheme using the river catalytic programme; when is the implementation going to be?  It was there in the legacy report of the previous Committee and needs attention this financial year. Fencing for rotational gracing must be looked into because in the North West province there is fight between the livestock farmers and the crop farmers already going on because the livestock is feeding the crops. The fences being installed should be something a bit permanent because some of the fences are already stolen. Do you take the crop farmers into cognizance when dealing with commodity association so that the right crops for the season are planted?

The Chairperson said that when Members went to visit a CRDP project in KZN, the Mayor said he had not been to that site in eight years and the question must be asked if the CRDP actually exists. Has the agrarian transformation, rural development, and improved reform been abandoned by the Department? The CRDP spoke to four foci which are: community, land, cropping and livestock and are we saying that they have all been abandoned? We cannot continue to pilot programmes and then desert the projects and programmes because if for eight years the mayor stated they have not been on the sight then something is amiss. The Department went to put fences in Luntandolo community and left and nothing has happened to date and no kind of support provided to them.   They then went into land that is lying fallow in Mveso, with 352 hectares fenced in with no support system, no irrigation, and crops and so what is real work of the Department?  Is fencing all that is done under these programmes or to actually realise food security? One community member of the small district of Mveso went to plead with Siemens to build them a High School and the Mandela School of Science and Technology was born with a R100 million investment from Siemens. A state of the art school in rural South Africa, the best of its kind in rural Africa, two hectares of land was cut out for agricultural programmes. The Department and DAFF adopted that two hectares and started producing eggs with chicken layers and they now have a piggery and crops. The constant question asked by the community is: what is being thought in school that can be taken to empower and skill the community? Is what is thought in the schools under the Junior Care programme being extended to household gardens? These are questions that the Committee wants clarity on to be provided in writing.

The meeting was adjourned.

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