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AGRICULTURE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
18 October 2006
PERISHABLE PRODUCTS EXPORT CONTROL BOARD
Chairperson Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC)
Documents handed out:
PPECB Annual Report 2005-2006
PPECB Annual Report presentation
The Committee heard a briefing from the PPECB on the Executive summary, operations, finance and it and the human resources department. It was clear that PPECB faced transformation challenges and it also needed to break even. There were a number of achievements such as the numerous accreditations by the EU food safety bodies and other trading partners. Members concerns included the role of the PPECB in helping the emerging farmers. The need to amend the current legislation governing the PPECB. The was a need to balance the expenditure with income so as to make the organisation profitable. Members felt that entities in the Agriculture sector were not working together to solve the common problems.
MrAnton Du Preez, Chairperson PPECB said that the Board term had expired in September 2006. The reason that the old Board continued to be in office was because the Minister had not announced the new board members. Mr N Hubinger, C E then briefly touched on the executive summary, it included people, technology, assets quality management, official food safety. Mr D Martin spoke on operations of the PPECB, he mentioned among others programme management, centralised sterilisation at the Durban Port. PPECB and the Iranian authorities had concluded a deal on the construction of a new steri-destination in Iran. Other deals were concluded with India China and Indonesia.
Mr G Bruwer, Ancillary Services, he mentioned quality management systems, mycotoxin analytical laboratory, which was an internationally recognised food safety regulation. The South Africa Pesticide Initiative Programme PIP was to assist farmers to change the level of tolerated pesticide residues. On food safety, the PPECB had to conduct food safety audits and register food business operators. On certification PPECB had been selected as the preferred service provider for Pick n Pay and Tesco, the biggest supermarket chain in Europe. They had been accredited to the ISO 62 & 65, Europgap, Haccp and Brc.
Ms B da Gama, HR Manager, said that the current demographics were not desirable because they were largely dominated by white males. She added that the picture had been slightly changing since 2004. The company had been recruiting more black males and females, in an effort to change the current trends. Black individuals were the beneficiaries of the corporate training programme. The challenges facing the organisation included the lack of adequate representation of African people and women in decision-making positions. The solutions included the leadership development programme, a complete review of the existing practices such as the existing Employment Equity Plan. The training of 100 Agri Export Technologist Programme. Mr J Schwebus, Finance and IT, made mention of the fact that expenditure exceeded the income by R5, 6 million due to declining export volumes and the stronger rand. He said that future prospects were promising due to good prices and the reforcasted breakeven.
The Chairperson asked the four emerging farmers that were mentored by the PPECB, the criterion used to select the farmers and their sustainability.
Mr A M Hawes, Board Member, PPECB replied that emerging farmers from the former homelands were unable to secure loans from the Land Bank and CASP was not helpful. The four farms were from the Winterveld near Pretoria, Krugerdale in the Northern Cape, Rekopane in Limpopo and Alice in the Eastern Cape. The funders had specified that they wanted to fund certain projects.
Mr Abrahams (ANC) asked about the assistance given to citrus exporting farmers in the Eastern Cape. He wanted to know about the impediments experienced by ostrich meat exporters regards the European Union certification. The type of measure taken to ensure PPECB co-operated with other organisations in the agriculture sector and the land reform process. What support was given to emerging farmers.
Mr Du Preez replied that some sectors were coming together such as mango growers. The deciduous fruit growers were puling apart while the citrus fruit growers were consolidated. The whole fruit industry had to be consolidated, the Director General of Agriculture had assembled all Chief Executives in the Industry to share information on developments such as Bio-Fuels
Mr Hawes replied that farmers were trained on handling the chemical residue, because the EU was concerned with chemicals. The Citrus farmers a highly organised bunch throughout the country, they were getting the necessary support. Very few emerging farmers were supported in the form of loans because they did not have title deeds. The ostrich meat exports had been adversely been affected by the Avian Flu
Chief P Holomisa (ANC) asked about the names of other stakeholders involved in the Women In Agriculture Conference. He asked about the problems experienced when interacting with the Department of Agriculture. He enquired about the reason for the R5, 6 million overspending. Countries like Australia and New Zealand were strongly subsidised, and they posed a stiff competition. What measures were in place to counter the competition, and harmonise legislation.
Mr A Du Preez replied that R5, 6 overspending was a result of a number of factors. The stronger rand, had made South African products not to be competitive. The decline in export volumes due to climatic conditions, over supply in the global market. He said that PPECB had been running at loss for two years in a row.
Ms B da Gama replied that the Women in Agriculture Project was a joint project with the Departments of Land Affairs and Agriculture.
Mr Hubinger replied that the Legislation governing the PPECB needed to be revisited. Some operations were not catered for in the current legislation, such as the leasing of vessels. Some stakeholders requested the PPECB to perform certification and commercial activities. He said 10% of the activities done by PPECB were not catered for in the existing legislation, but the board approved them. He emphasised that the laws of the country do not permit such things. He said that PPECB had the necessary expertise to come up with draft legislation in co-operation with other stakeholders. He appealed to the Committee for help, the legislation would be the first step that would enable PPECB to compete in the international market.
Mr D Dlali (ANC) asked about the remuneration of Board Members, especially those seconded by the Ministry and why they were not represented in the subcommittees. He suggested that PPECB should train farmers who had experience rather than graduates to be extension officers. He said he could not understand the logic of investing little funds when PPECB wanted transformation in the organisation.
Mr Hawes reiterated his position with regards to training farmers on the control of chemical residue in perishable products.
Mr G Bruwer, Ancillary Services, replied that the trading partner needed a special type of qualification hence the need to train graduates. Ms Da Gama replied that a study by the Human Sciences Research Council revealed that graduates of the Further Education Colleges were unemployed. The PPECB had decided to invest to train those graduates.
Mr Du Preez replied that ministerial Appointees in the board were not remunerated, they were also not allowed to be in the subcommittees. Mr Dlali said that Ministerial appointees were remunerated for sitting in the Board of Land Bank.
Ms C Nkuna (ANC) said that she was concerned about the slow rate of transformation within the organisation. She appreciated the honesty with which the matter was tackled, she asked the criterion used by the PPECB to determine the price of perishable products.
Ms Da Gama replied that her Department had been brutally honest with problems they were facing. She indicated that PPECB was predominantly “white and male”, but things were changing if one people compared it to previous decade. PPECB HR composition reflected the Agricultural Sector.
Mr Abrahams said that the PPEBC should initiate the process of
The meeting was adjourned