Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme: briefing

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Meeting report

AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 September 2004
COMPREHENSIVE AGRICULTURE SUPPORT PROGRAMME: BRIEFING

Chairperson:

Mr N Masithela (ANC)

Documents handed out:

 

Department presentation on the CASP Report
CASP Report 2004.

SUMMARY:
The Department of Agriculture presented a report on the establishment and progress of the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP). Members then raised concerns about the implementation capacity of the Department, financial support and the relationship between the Departments of Agriculture and Land Affairs. Members also agreed to convene a meeting later in the week to consider the draft report on provincial visits.

MINUTES
Ms N Nduli (Department Deputy-Director) presented a report on the establishment and progress of the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP). Its purpose was to enhance support services to promote agricultural development, especially to the beneficiaries of the Land Reform and Agrarian Reform initiatives.

Discussion
Mr J Bici (UDM) inquired what monitoring strategies and mechanisms had been developed by the Department to ensure the successful implementation of CASP.

Dr E Schoeman (ANC) supported the programme but said it was unfortunate that it had not been established earlier. Financial assistance for emerging farmers was extremely important. He then queried whether those departments responsible for implementing CASP had the necessary capacity. He also asked about the Department's policies concerning subsidisation.

The Chairperson responded that although the question of financial support was significant, Members should delay debating this issue as it had yet to be finalised.

Ms E Ngaleka (ANC) asked whether the Department had met its initial set-up objectives and requested information on the allocation of funds to provinces. She also inquired what remedial steps would be taken to assist provinces that were unable to spend their budgets.

Dr A Van Niekerk (DA) articulated his support and asked who was responsible for assisting the individual farmer.

Mr S Moephuli (Department) replied that, as South Africa was still a developing nation, it was imperative that funds be allocated for the provision of basic services and infrastructure, before the question of direct subsidies could be addressed. CASP was intended to complement other agricultural support initiatives and had been developed in association with provinces that had assisted the Department in assessment. The allocation of funding was in accordance with identified priorities.

Ms Nduli explained that the provinces were responsible for the implementation of CASP, but that the Department was still examining delivery structures. There was a system to ensure that the funds allocated to the provinces were spent responsibly.

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) expressed concern that the various programmes designed to assist agricultural projects would dilute responsibility for delivery. She instead proposed a comprehensive support strategy.

The Chairperson asked whether it was the Department's intention to collapse the other support structures in the CASP.

Mr S Holomisa (ANC) questioned the absence of reference to traditional leaders in the Report, and inquired how the programme would affect those living in communal areas.

Mr D Dlali (ANC) indicated that the aims of CASP were identical to those of the Land Act. He asked how the Strauss Commission had identified those responsible for non-delivery of effective agricultural support. He also queried the separation of the Departments of Agriculture and Land Affairs.

Ms Nduli replied that the Land Act did not deal with extension services.

The Chairperson responded that the Committee was not currently dealing with the Strauss Commission. He advised that those Members who had not received the relevant documentation should contact the Parliament's Committee Section

Mr B Radebe (ANC) pointed out that different categories of farmers required different types of assistance and inquired as to whether the Department had trained officers to deal with specific categories.

Ms Nduli responded that efforts were being made to ensure effective co-ordination between all organisations involved in agricultural development. The Department had targeted all types of agriculture, including communal farms, and was in contact with traditional leaders. The Ministry of Agriculture and Land Affairs covered two separate departments with different responsibilities.

Mr Moephuli added that the Department had visited a number of projects in the provinces ranging from large commercial undertakings to subsistence farms. They needed to examine its human resources capacity to ensure that monitoring activities were harmonised and effective.

Mr M Abraham (ANC) emphasised that the CASP should assist with basic technical support and asked when the programme had been initiated.

The Chairperson responded that CASP had been established this year, and stressed that the Department should provide the Committee with regular updates on progress. The relationship between the Departments of Agriculture and Land Affairs DoLA was a concern and he appealed that the department's work better together.

The meeting was then temporarily adjourned so that Members could attend the unveiling of the new mace of the National Assembly. Upon recommencement, the Committee agreed that, due to the absence of opposition Members, a meeting be convened later in the week in order to adopt the draft report on provincial visits.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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