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AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC)
1 November 2005
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH COUNCIL AND INGONYAMA TRUST ANNUAL REPORTS 2004/05: BRIEFINGS
Documents handed out:
ARC: Highlights of Annual Report [please email
AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC)
Ingonyama Trust Board Annual Report
Proposed Programme for the GMO Amendment Bill
The Committee received briefings from the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the Ingonyama Trust Board on their Annual Reports for 2004/05.
Members raised questions about assistance to small-hold farmers; the number of researchers at the ARC; the effects of the Communal Land Rights Act on the Trust and its outstanding liabilities to municipalities.
Agricultural Research Council (ARC) Briefing
Dr N Tau-Mzamane (President and CEO of the ARC) stated that in terms of their financial statements, R22 million had been spent on technology-transfer initiatives targeting the resource poor agricultural sector. This resulted in 51 technologies being transferred to resource poor farmers, 21 new technologies initiated for resource poor farmers and 17 communal farmer teams of over 300 individual producers turned into lucrative beef enterprises. R45 million had been allocated to capital renewal programmes, whilst R25 million had been committed to their ICT infrastructure upgrade.
In terms of their debtors’ collection, the ARC had set a target of debt collection within a time frame of 45 days. They had achieved this within 90 days, and noted that in previous years this had been 122 days; so 90 days was certainly an improvement. Further, of the R253 million to be collected, the ARC had collected about R219 million.
Dr F Guma (Group Executive of Horticulture) provided the Committee with a brief overview of the challenges faced by his department. He noted that these included that of the competitive environment, in which he said that in order to remain competitive, the ARC needed to maintain a variety of products in which quality and variety was to be constantly maintained.
Dr A Magadlela, Research and Technology Manager noted that almost 80% of available land in SA was deemed unsuitable for agricultural production in that it was too dry, or too shallow. He noted however that the ARC supported the second economy in feedback performance as well as ‘meat quality’. In terms of their 2004/05 financial results, he stated that in previous years, specifically 1999 – 2004, there was very little investment in the development of infrastructure. They were now committed to investing substantial amounts in infrastructure, and this was evident in that during the year under review, the ARC had committed a total amount of R45 million towards capital infrastructure and renewal, R25 million towards IT upgrades and R27 million towards human capacity development.
Dr Tau-Mzamane added that the year saw stable industrial relations and a 4.7% growth in the total workforce. The ARC had achieved its target by investing 3% of its labour cost in human resources, and successfully claimed all the skills grants due. Employment equity still presented some challenges. She noted that the employment equity plan was monitored continuously and, currently, 58.7% of employees were black and 38.6% were female.
Ms R Ntuli (ANC) inquired how the ARC disseminated information to small-hold farmers with whom it ran projects. Secondly, she asked how the ARC followed up on projects to determine whether or not they were making an impact. Dr Tau-Mzamane responded that the ARC had set predetermined targets in order to measure the impact of their work with small-hold farmers. However she noted that the ARC had not as yet developed a system to measure the impact of their information technology transfer. Further she added that they worked through individuals who worked with the small-hold farmers; however it was impossible to reach all the farmers.
Mr E. Salamuddi (ANC) asked the ARC what research they conducted to hasten the maturity of mealies which previously took four months to mature. He repeated the same question with regards to the broiler industry in which chicks had required 24 weeks to be ready for the market. Dr Magadlela responded that they were involved in research on the broiler industry, as the ARC was a meaningful role-player on all research fronts.
Mr Nel (DA) asked what the ARC’s role was in development of the East Coast of SA as the most poor people lived there. Also he commented that in order to meet their NEPAD commitments, the ARC would have to double its research capacity. Dr Tau-Mzamane responded that development of the East Coast would require more resources and currently they had insufficient resources. Also, with regards to increasing their number of researchers, they would need more resources to offer competitive salaries to attract researchers.
Mr T. Ramphele (ANC) asked what influence the ARC had on tertiary institutions in terms of the curriculum of universities. Dr Tau-Mzamane replied that the ARC had vibrant partnerships to train researchers at tertiary institutions such as the Universities of Stellenbosch, Nelspruit and Rustenburg. However they needed resources to reach outlying areas such as Venda.
Ingonyama Trust Board Briefing
Adv. W Raubenheimer, member of the Ingonyama Trust Board, stated that the Ingonyama Trust land made up almost 30% of the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
In terms of their current tasks, the board still had to transfer the former RT293 Kwazulu townships to the various municipalities. The definition of what constituted a RT293 township had led to protracted debate and there had been some reluctance by municipalities to take transfer. In particular, RT293 townships were not subject to the payment of rates and were often not well serviced. This, he stated had probably given rise to this reluctance.
Many townships were administered more like informal settlements, and hence, very little regulatory requirements were enforced. The local government transitional period had not improved the situation and the allocation of resources had been poor. As a result, the Department of Land Affairs had not completed the final transfer process despite a grant of R3 million during the past two financial years.
He added that they faced challenges including that of townships not having been properly surveyed. Occupiers were only granted ‘Deeds of Grant’ or a ‘Permission to Occupy’ as opposed to a freehold title. The question of ‘rating of municipalities’ still remained unresolved as certain townships had not completed transfer as land had still to be transferred to the Trust from the Department of Land Affairs. He noted that 16814 hectares had been transferred notwithstanding these difficulties and that the board intended pressurising municipalities to take transfer of remaining areas during the coming financial year.
In terms of the report of the Auditor General (AG) on the financial statements of the board for the year ended 31 March 2005, the AG had noted as a matter of emphasis a contingent liability of arrears rates owed to the eThekwini Municipality. The board had been invoiced over a number of years for rates due to municipalities for land owned within the board’s demarcated areas. The board contested the extent of the liability because municipalities could not substantiate their claims. The eThekwini municipality was claiming an amount of R25 million, but ministerial intervention had been requested to resolve this long outstanding matter.
Ms Ntuli asked what the relationship was between the municipality and the board with regards to rental leases. Secondly, she asked how the board related to the Communal Land Rights Act. Adv Raubenheimer responded that board rental was a percentage of income that was derived from mining royalties and that 10% of this was used for its programmes. Secondly, he stated that the President had signed the Communal Land Rights Act in mid-July 2004; however it was not operational yet and did not clash with traditional law. He added that the Act allowed traditional leaders to allocate land.
Mr Bici (ANC) enquired about the process when land was transferred to another entity. Adv Raubenheimer responded that the ownership of land was prioritised for the previously disadvantaged; therefore for the board to transfer land, they would need to be convinced that it would be to the benefit of black people.
Mr Salamuddi inquired whether there were any black commercial farmers on their land. Adv Raubenheimer responded that there were some black established commercial farmers on their land. However, they were not producing a wide variety of agricultural products and the board hoped to transfer more land to empower these people.
Mr Ngema (IFP) inquired whether there was any strategic plan to develop the sustainability of income generation in traditional areas. Adv Raubenheimer replied that they had had approximately 15 meetings to discuss the development of sustainable income generation with traditional leaders and were still in the process of consultation. Mr Ngema sought clarity on the exact amount owed to the municipality. Mr Amien Mia, Accounting Officer for the board, responded that the amount was R25 million.
Adoption of GMO Amendment Bill Programme
The Chairperson proposed adoption of the proposed programme for the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Amendment Bill which would consist of hearings with the relevant departments and public hearings from 30 January to 1 February 2006.
Mr Salamuddi proposed the adoption of the programme. The Committee agreed.
The meeting was adjourned.
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