Department Budget and Strategic Plan 2006/07: briefing

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Meeting report

AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 March 2005
DEPARTMENT BUDGET AND STRATEGIC PLAN 2006/07: BRIEFING

Chairperson:

Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department of Agriculture Strategic Plan 2006/07 [please email

docs@pmg.org.za]

SUMMARY
The Department of Agriculture briefed the Committee on its 2006/07 Strategic Plan and budget. The Department informed the Committee that in an effort to enhance its performance, service delivery and accountability, its organisational structure had been reviewed to align it with strategic objectives, strategies and programmes. The Department claimed the new structure would strengthen its capacity and would improve oversight of the implementation of national programmes. The new structure would be implemented from 1 April 2006.

The Committee applauded the Department on rationalising its budget programmes to five new programmes. A Member expressed concern that the Department had not achieved its target of distributing 62 000 food parcels in 2005/06, yet had set the same target for 2006/07. Other concerns included whether genetically-modified animal feed led to animal diseases and the extent of interdepartmental co-operation between state departments involved in the agricultural sector.

 

MINUTES

Department of Agriculture (DoA) presentation
 

Mr Masiphula Mbongwa (Director-General) briefed the Committee on the Department’s Strategic Plan for 2006/07. He stated that in an effort to enhance the performance of the organisation, improve service delivery and also increase accountability, the Department’s organisational structure has been reviewed. The objective was to align the structure with strategic objectives, strategies and programmes. The Department claimed the restructuring would strengthen capacity and provide oversight of the implementation of national programmes, including their subprogrammes. The new structure would become effective from 1 April 2006.

The new organisation structure would be divided into five budget programmes, namely Programme 1: Administration; Programme 2: Livelihoods, economics and business development; Programme 3: Biosecurity and disaster management; Programme 4: Production and Resources Management and Programme: 5: Sector Services and Partnerships.

The objectives of these programmes were set out as follows. Programme 1: Administration would provide the Department with political and strategic leadership and management, and manage capital investments. Programme 2: Livelihoods, economics and business development would promote equitable access to the South African agricultural sector, growth and commercial viability of emerging farmers, and food security as well as rural development. This would facilitate market access for South African agricultural products nationally and internationally by developing and implementing appropriate policies and targeted programmes. It would also promote Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) in the sector. In addition, the programme would provide information for developing and monitoring of the agricultural sector.

Programme 3: Biosecurity and disaster management would develop and implement policies for food safety, agricultural risk, and disaster management for controlling animal and plant diseases. Programme 4: Production and Resources Management and would manage productivity and sustainability in agriculture, monitor and control genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and develop and implement policies and legislation on the sustainable use of agricultural land and water resources. Under Programme; 5: Sector Services and Partnerships would comprise the management and coordination of stakeholder and international relations, agricultural education and training, extension and advisory services, and scientific research and development.

Mr T Marais (Finance Manager) briefed the Committee on the Department’s budget for 2006/07. In terms of the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation for 2006/07, baseline expenditure was estimated at R1, 5 billion. The total budget for 2006/07 amounted to R1, 9 billion.

Mr Phil Mohlahlane (Deputy Director-General: Livelihoods and Business Development) stated that in terms of the Strategic Plan, the Department had set a target of distributing 62 000 food parcels to improve household food security and commercialising 80 000 black land and agrarian reform beneficiaries in an effort to stimulate the black agricultural sector.

Ms N Nduli (Deputy Director-General: Biosecurity and disaster management) explained that Programme 3 consisted of two subprogrammes, Plant and Inspection Services and Food, Animal and Health Disaster Management. They planned on developing a food strategy as well regulatory systems for animal health and food safety as well as developing strategies for the prevention of animal disease and the management of agricultural disasters.

Dr S Moephuli (Acting Deputy Director-General: Production and Resources Management) informed the Committee that Programme 4 managed productivity and sustainability in agriculture, monitored and controlled GMOs and developed and implemented policies and legislation for the sustainable use of agricultural land and water resources. The Programme consisted of two subprogrammes namely, Agricultural Production and Engineering, Energy and Resource Use and Management in which their key focus was on productivity, renewable energy, mechanisation, sustainable land use, water use efficiency and contributing to the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA).

Ms V Titi (Deputy Director-General: Sector Services and Partnerships) briefed the Committee on sector services priority areas stating that the Department intended developing a model for governance of agricultural colleges and the establishment of national agricultural training and educational forums. The intention was to promote emerging entrepreneurs in the sector through an external bursary scheme, mentorship and internship programmes in support of ASGISA.

Discussion
Mr S Abram (ANC) asked whether research was being done into the possible connection between GMO animal feed and animal diseases. He also asked whether the Department had a section dedicated to research into the distribution of GMO food.

Dr Moephuli responded that the Department was doing ongoing research including constant risk assessments.

Mr A Nel (DA) asked what strategy the Department had to ensure collaboration between itself, the Department of Land Affairs and relevant other departments.

Mr Mbongwa replied that Cabinet supervised the direct interdepartmental relations between the Departments of Agriculture, Land Affairs and Water Affairs and Forestry. There were also plans to hold regular management meetings between the departments. He admitted that interdepartmental relations on Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) in particular had to be strengthened.

Mr Abram asked what the turnaround time for an LRAD application was.

Mr Sam Malatjie (DoA) responded that turnaround time was estimated at six weeks.

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) asked how the Department monitored its expenditure trends.

Ms V Titi replied that the Department had an intergovernmental review process to monitor spending trends.

Dr Moephuli added to an earlier response by stating that the Department had been funding projects in partnership with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to look into the impact of GMOs.

Mr V Ngema (IFP) expressed concern that in the previous financial year, the Department had set a target of distributing 62 000 food parcels, but had only distributed 13 000 parcels. Once again, the Department had set a target of 62 000 parcels for 2006/07.

The chairperson called a halt to the meeting as the venue was required by another committee. She asked the Department to submit written responses to the issues raised.

The meeting was adjourned.


 

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