ATC131125: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on the Oversight Visit to the Free State Province, dated 29 July to 02 August 2013

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on the Oversight Visit to the Free State Province, dated 29 July to 02 August 2013

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, having undertaken an oversight visit to the Free State Province from 29 July to 2 August 2013 reports as follows:

1.         INTRODUCTION

As per Parliament’s constitutional mandate, the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries undertook an oversight visit to the Free State Province from 29 July to 2 August 2013, to oversee the implementation of the mechanisation and other infrastructure development programmes including the utilisation of conditional grants such as the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP) and Ilima/letsema that are transferred annually by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to Provinces.

1.1 Delegation

The delegation of the Portfolio Committee composed of Mr M Johnson, ANC (Chairperson and leader of the delegation); Ms NM Twala, ANC; Ms RE Nyalungu, ANC; Ms ME Pilusa-Mosoane, ANC; Mrs A Steyn, DA; Mr N Bhanga, COPE and Mr RN Cebekhulu, IFP. The Committee was supported by Ms A Kakaza, Committee Secretary; Ms N Mgxashe, Content Advisor; Mr N Ginindza, Committee Researcher (Fisheries); Ms N Diya, Committee Assistant and Mr F Mohale, Communications Officer.

2. TERMS OF REFERENCE

2.1 Background

On 5 March 2013, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (hereinafter referred to as the Department) was requested by the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to present its progress report regarding the implementation of the Mechanisation Programme and the allocation of tractors in the various Provinces. During the presentation, the Committee expressed its disappointment that there was little or no progress made regarding the Mechanisation Programme in the various Provinces as reported by the Department. Furthermore, despite all the challenges that were mentioned by the Department regarding mechanisation and infrastructure development, the Department did not have a strategy or a mechanism to address the reported challenges and had still not finalised a Mechanisation Policy, which they had been working on since the inception of the Mechanisation Programme.

The Committee was also concerned about tractors and other farm implements that were reportedly parked in some government properties (e.g. in Free State) without use, equipment theft and general inconsistencies within the Mechanisation Programme in some of the provinces, as well as lack of agricultural infrastructure in most rural areas. Having failed to receive requested detailed information on the Mechanisation Programme from the Department, the Committee resolved to include in its Third-term Programme, an oversight visit to the Free State Province to oversee the implementation of the Mechanisation Programme and infrastructure development.

2.2 Objectives of the Oversight

The purpose of the oversight visit was to:

  • determine the effectiveness in which the Department’s Mechanisation Programme funds were utilised in the Free State Province;
  • determine whether the Mechanisation Programme was making a positive difference in the lives of the people on the ground – value for money;
  • identify any challenges that were experienced by the Province in implementing the Mechanisation Programme;
  • oversee progress on the development of infrastructure such as irrigation schemes, fences, farm buildings, roads, etc.; and
  • determine market access and availability of market infrastructure in rural areas.

3. COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS

3.1 Briefing by the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP) and Ilima/letsema

The Head of Department (HOD) for Agriculture and Rural Development in Free State, Mr Peter Thabethe, presented an overview of the expenditure for the provincial CASP and Ilima/letsema support grants. A detailed list of projects including expenditure per project that were or are funded through CASP and Ilima/letsema was distributed to the delegation. The delegation was also given a list of uncompleted projects with reasons for non-completion.  The HOD reported that in 2012/13, the province received R126.83 million through CASP and had spent R126.65 million (99.9%). He further acknowledged that the conditional grants allocation (both CASP and Ilima/letsema) was increasing every year; however, the Department’s operational budget was decreasing. To address animal health and livestock disease outbreaks such as army worms, avian influenza, etc. the national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had assisted the province with additional funding for veterinary services.

For the 2012/13 financial year, the province had 36 planned projects for CASP but only 32 were completed and 4 of the projects could not be completed due to financial constraints.  Some of the CASP funding was spent on revitalisation of Glen Agricultural College, supporting agricultural projects with training, as well as mentorship. The province was working with the Agricultural Sector Education and Training Authority (AgriSETA) in collaboration with the University of Free State (UFS) to develop Glen College of Agriculture into an accredited college for a three-year Diploma in Agriculture and Farming. The College currently has 128 students.

The rest of the CASP funding was used as follows:

  • Invested R2.5 million or 20% equity share for the workers in the Vergezocht Plant Oils - a sunflower processing plant.
  • R1.79 million allocated to Waya Waya Layers for production inputs (poultry house, 6 750 layers plus feed).
  • R2.4 million allocated to Dorper International for infrastructure and breeding stock. 14 permanent jobs were created through this project.
  • R2.5 million allocated to Plancious Livestock project to purchase 275 lambing ewes and 33 Bonsmara beef cattle, which have all calved.
  • R1.5 million was allocated to Xhariep Ostrich project for infrastructure and production inputs.
  • Initiated 6 aquaculture projects with the capacity of 78 fish tanks (13 in each town) for production of fingerlings and processing in the following towns, Springfontein, Koffiefontein – Gotswametsing, Bethulie, Petrusburg, Zastron and Fauresmith. Construction of fish tanks was finalised in the first three towns and in the final stages in the last three.
  • The establishment of the 6 aquaculture projects created 29 jobs. The province is currently farming with catfish and is still awaiting an approval licence from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) for tilapia.
  • The provincial Department planned to construct a fish processing plant at Xhariep to the value of R11 million to complete the aquaculture value chain.
  • Approximately 259 farmers were offered training through CASP in 2012/13 (145 males, 114 females and 101 youth) and approximately 2 741 beneficiaries were trained in 2012/13.

It was highlighted that CASP funding was largely used for infrastructure development and the province was working closely with Grain South Africa and Vrystaat Korporasie Beperk (VKB) to assist farmers.

For Ilima/letsema, the province received an allocation of R54.6 million and spent 100% of the grant. The Province was also allocated R12 million for Disaster Relief and had spent R12.3 million (overspent by 1%). An overview of Ilima/letsema spending, which focused on household food security, was reported as follows:

  • The province targeted 714 beneficiaries but due to inadequate funding, could only support 652 beneficiaries.
  • Created 143 permanent job opportunities and 139 temporary/seasonal jobs through the programme
  • R600 000 was allocated to Dorper International.
  • Assisted 282 subsistence farmers with planting – 23 hectares (ha).
  • Assisted 190 smallholder farmers with planting – 1 348 ha.
  • Assisted 10 black commercial farmers with planting – 270 ha.
  • The Mohoma mobung under the provincial Food Security Programme assisted 3 389 households and 51 schools in developing vegetable gardens.
  • Funding also used to assist with subsistence poultry projects.

To increase the visibility of extension officers, the HOD mentioned that the Free State provincial Department has developed an implementing agency to work specifically on extension matters. He further mentioned that, although the provincial Department received an unqualified audit report for 2012/13, they have developed a plan to deal with audit outcomes, which were largely on asset management and predetermined objectives.

The Mechanisation Programme

The delegation was also briefed on the progress report of the provincial Mechanisation Programme. It was reported that the Programme was guided by two structures in the province, the Provincial Mechanisation Steering Committee and the Mechanisation Technical Committee.  The Mechanisation Implementation Plan was approved by the Accounting Officer of the national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on 30 March 2012. It was reported that 72 Massey Ferguson tractors inclusive of implements (350 implements, e.g. trailers, ploughs, discs, planters, fertiliser spreaders and chemical sprayers) were delivered, assembled and signed off for inspection by 23 August 2012. Tractor packages were allocated to the different provincial Districts through established criteria that are linked to arable land on land reform farms, commonages, Ilima/letsema projects and in communal lands.

The tractors were distributed throughout the province as follows: 7 tractors for Xhariep District, 14 for Mangaung Metro, 19 for Lejweleputswa District, 24 for Thabo Mofutsanyane District and 8 for Fezile Dabi District. Another 7 tractors were outstanding and still need to be allocated. The province supports all farmer groups with mechanisation but the focus is on subsistence and small-scale/smallholder farmers. It was reported that:

  • The delivery of tractors and implements to the province started on 1 February 2012 at Glen College.
  • The delivery and assembling of tractors and implements at Glen College was completed by 1 October 2012.
  • The provincial launch of the tractors was held on 3 November 2012.
  • Preparatory work for formation of Mechanisation Cooperatives was completed by 30 November 2012 (nomination, vetting, constitution, etc.).
  • The registration applications for 5 Mechanisation Cooperatives were submitted to the Registrar by 14 December 2012. All 5 Mechanisation Cooperatives received Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO) certificates by April 2013.
  • All assets were relocated to District depots by 15 December 2012.
  • 144 tractor drivers were trained by 7 December 2012.
  • The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) through a service provider (Moipone Group) is responsible for training and maintenance in the province for a 2-year period.
  • The national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) distributed tractors to provinces without tool kits or calibration equipment and running costs. Therefore, the Free State Department took R6 million from CASP to run the tractor programme.
  • Each District was allocated tractors according to the number of hectares (ha) that will be planted.
  • Only the Mangaung Metro (50 ha) and Lejweleputswa District (295 ha) were able to cultivate arable fields during the 2012/13 planting season.
  • The mechanisation roll-out application was per town and only covered 5% of the provincial needs for mechanisation.
  • While the province was using some of the CASP funds to assist on mechanisation, it was having discussions with DAFF for additional funding for the Mechanisation Programme.

3.2 Site visits

During the oversight visit, the delegation visited the following projects:

3.2.1 Vergezocht Plant Oils (Pty) Ltd (Mangaung Metro)

The Vergezocht Plant Oils (VPO) originated from the farm Vergezocht, where a high oleic-content sunflower was planted for the first time by Mr Pierre Hugo. The company is specialising in producing the Oleic Cold Press Sunflower Oil. The oil is claimed to be unique in that it retains the versatile properties of normal sunflower oil while it has a fatty acid profile equal to that of “healthy oils” such as olive oil. The company consists of 21 beneficiaries including a 3-member Board of Directors. It received R2.5 million from the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for the purchase of 20% shares for its workers (Workers Trust Fund). There are 12 permanent workers who are part of the Workers Trust. The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) also invested R8 million to the company. In 2012, the company produced 180 000 litres of sunflower oil and 108 000 40 kg batch oilcake by-product, which is used for animal feed. The company supplies retailers such as Pick’ n Pay, Checkers, Spar and Woolworths; and is also targeting Dischem outlets.

The challenges that were reported were inadequate suppliers of sunflower seeds, inability to secure international markets and climate change-related drought.

3.2.2 Masizakhe Cooperative (Mangaung Metro)

The project is situated in Lakeview, Meadows and Roodewaal, 25 km from Bloemfontein and specialises in broiler production. It consists of 13 females and 2 males; three of the members are young people. In 2010, some of the project members received a borehole testing and cleaning training from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF); and all members further received training in broiler production, farm finance and poultry abattoir management.

The Cooperative received R3 million funding from the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for the construction of 14 broiler structures in the 2011/12 financial year. In the 2012/13 financial year, the Cooperative was assisted with an additional R500 000 for the completion of the broiler houses, a delivery truck, equipment and production inputs. The Cooperative receives extension and veterinary support services and other technical support services from the provincial Department. In 2012, the provincial Department assisted some Cooperative members to attend the AVI-AFRICA Conference.

The major challenge for the Cooperative is securing a market. They initially secured a market in Tweespruit but due to delays in the construction of the broiler houses that market was lost. At the time of the visit, it was reported that they sell their chickens to local supermarkets, pension pay points and street vendors; and Cooperative members were also selling to the local communities. The Cooperative still aims to secure a full-time contract with local markets. It was reported that the provincial Department’s Agricultural Economics Section was in the process of negotiating with different relevant institutions to secure a market for the Cooperative.

3.2.3 Batloung Enterprise (Mangaung Metro)

The project is situated in Lakeview in Matheo District. It is a 4.2 ha private plot which was acquired in 2006 by a family.  The project has 5 beneficiaries (all part of the family) which constitute 2 males and 3 females and one of the beneficiaries is a young person. It is a small-scale vegetable production project that sells to the local community, Bloemfontein Fresh Produce Market and Pick ‘n Pay. The project received financial assistance from the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development through CASP for fencing, sprinkler irrigation system, borehole cleaning and testing, submersible pump and tank; as well as production inputs such as seed, fertiliser, herbicides, pesticides, garden tools and protective clothing.  The project forms part of the Phaphamang Farmers, which consist of 6 small scale projects that were assisted by the Department with mechanisation to share amongst their 6 plots during the cultivation process. They were assisted with a tractor, rotavator, mould board plough, boom sprayer and speed wheel.

Reported challenges for the project were securing a stable market, storage facilities and hail storms. Without a hail net, the beneficiaries are unable to cultivate other vegetables that are in demand as they are prone to hail damage.

3.2.4 Waya Waya Layers (Lejweleputswa District)

The Waya Waya project was started in 2006 by 18 unemployed Majwemasweu residents who identified the egg production project and the sale of eggs as an opportunity for self-employment and earning an income. Over the years, the number of beneficiaries decreased to 9 (4 males, 5 females and 3 of these are youth) as others obtained full-time employment outside the project. The project is located in a piece of land within a municipal commonage that the beneficiaries secured from the Lejweleputswa District Municipality.  The project was initially earmarked by the Community Project Fund Support Programme (CPFSP) for funding but unfortunately, the CPFSP ended before the project started. The project was later funded by the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for R1.79 million through CASP.

The project is a contract laying company for Top Lay, which sells their eggs under its brand name to national retailers such as Pick ‘n Pay. The project has been able to sustain itself from the income that is generated from the sale of eggs. The project challenges are the high cost of feed and electricity, theft, limited production capacity (need bigger layer houses) that results in minimal income and limited market alternatives.

2.3.5 Dorper Sheep International (Lejweleputswa District)

The Dorper Sheep International Project is a Dorper stud breeding farm that is owned by 3 beneficiaries (all males). The extent of the farm is 865 ha, which comprises 200 ha of arable land and 665 ha of natural veld. It uses the services of a private laboratory in Bloemfontein for embryo flushing - flushing multiple embryos out of top stud Dorper ewes and implanting them into surrogate ewes which are not necessarily of top quality. Merino ewes are generally used as surrogates due to their mothering instincts and temperament. The lambs are grown to market age and size and then sold as breeding stock. The farm is a member of the International Dorper Breeders Society. Its future plans include being registered to sell embryos internationally (already selling to Brazil) and to build their own laboratory for embryo flushing. The project received R2.4 million and R600 000 through CASP and Ilima-letsema, respectively, from the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.  The main challenge is high feed costs.

3.2.6 Plancious Farm (Lejweleputswa District)

Plancious Farm was bought in 2007 by the family through a loan from the First National Bank (FNB). The farm has 11 beneficiaries (5 males and 6 females), 7 of whom are youth. Livestock production with Bonsmara cattle and Merino sheep is the predominant farming activity. The project breeds and produces beef cattle and sheep for sale; and also the sale of wool from the dual purpose mutton Merino sheep. The project sells its products to the national and local markets (livestock auction sales and abattoirs for livestock and the Boere Korporasie Beperk (BKB) for wool).  However, as the area also has rich soils, grains such as maize and sunflower are sometimes planted under dryland conditions with favourable results. The project was supported with R2.4 million through Ilima-letsema.

The major challenge is the R2.8 million that is still owed to FNB and a South African Revenue Services (SARS) liability of R300 000, which still need to be paid. Due to these financial liabilities, the head of the family had to do some additional work in addition to running the farm in order to be able to service the loan. Another challenge to the project is poor grazing due to poor establishment of pastures and poorly demarcated camps, resulting in poor grazing management.

3.2.7 Gotswametsing Fish Project (Xhariep District)

The project is located 5 km from Koffiefontein at Letsemeng Local Municipality, Xhariep District. It started in 2007 with catfish (African catfish) as the main product under Recirculation Aquaculture System (RAS), where water quality parameters (e.g. temperature) are controlled. There were 1 400 fish in the plant. The project sells the fish locally on a six-month basis and plans to take some of the fish to the processing plant when its construction is finished.  The project had created 6 permanent jobs for beneficiaries and another 8 temporary jobs through construction activities. The project received CASP funding worth R1.45 million from the provincial Department Agriculture and Rural Development. The main challenge in the project is the inability to expand and farm with tilapia due to environmental legislative processes that needs to be followed to get permission to farm with tilapia.

3.2.8 Qala Botja Ostrich Project (Xhariep District)

The project started with 120 ostriches in the 2010/11 financial year. By the end of that financial year, infrastructure for ostrich farming was built with financial assistance from the provincial Department of Agriculture. The project has sold some ostriches and bought more chicks. At the time of visit there were 270 ostriches on the farm. Their marketing is done by Klein Karoo and they have also been appointed a mentor, who is also contracted by Klein Karoo to assist with the production process. The project has 6 beneficiaries (4 males and 2 females) and 3 of whom are young people.

The beneficiaries would like to expand by breeding their own chicks and grow their own feed as feed is expensive and it is costly to source chicks externally. The beneficiaries would also like Government to assist them with a local abattoir and a processing plant as there is more money in the ostrich value chain when people can process everything by themselves instead of only selling live birds. It is also costly to transport the birds to Oudtshoorn for slaughter. However, the main challenge for their expansion plans is land. The piece of land that they have is only 15 hectares and will not be able to carry more birds than they already have. Ideally, they would like to have 1 200 ostriches at a time.

3.2.9 Visit to the China – South Africa Agricultural Demonstration Centre in

Xhariep Dam (Xhariep District)

The Xhariep Fish Hatchery in Xhariep Dam is based on an agreement between the South African and Chinese Governments. An implementation contract to establish the Aquaculture Demonstration Centre at Xhariep Dam in the Free State was signed between the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the China Agricultural Department on 10 July 2009. The purpose of the project was to conduct research on freshwater aquaculture breeding and technology; select seeds fit for local conditions; to demonstrate and promote advanced freshwater aquaculture technology and management practices and to train local fish farmers. The Centre is expected to also conduct research on indigenous fish resources protection and aquarium fish breeding technology development.

The handover of the facility was initiated by the Chinese Government in December 2012 and the South African Government accepted the facility in February 2013. The Centre was said to be ready to start functioning but the only challenge was the official finalisation and signing of the agreement by the South African and Chinese Governments.

3.2.10 Rosy’s Dairy (Thabo Mofutsanyana District)

The project started in 2011 with three beneficiaries and is solely owned by a young female. It currently has 5 female beneficiaries. It specialises in dairy processing from milk that is sourced from developing farmers around Bethlehem. The project was the 2013 provincial winner of the Best Female Entrepreneur in Agroprocessing. In 2012, the project received CASP funding worth R2.5 million from the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for infrastructure development, machinery and a cooling truck. The project produces packaged milk, drinking and fruit yoghurts, juice, amasi and white cheese. The products are sold locally and also supply Shoprite. The project is doing very well and has managed to use self-generated income to get bigger premises for expansion; and will also offer training on dairy processing in the new facilities. Through expansion, the plan is to open other Rosy’s Dairy shops around the country to create more jobs and to supply more retailers.

The challenge is sourcing enough milk from the local developing farmers as most do not have enough land and are leasing. Therefore, inadequate grazing land is limiting the number of dairy cattle they can keep. The new premises can handle 1 600 litres of milk per day and the project is currently getting 500 litres.  The project has recently acquired a land reform farm in Vrede, which in the meantime, plans to let one of their major milk suppliers, who is currently leasing from someone else, to use while he is still looking for his own farm.

3.2.11 Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) Site

(Thabo Mofutsanyana District)

Diyatalawa Communal Property Association (CPA)

The Committee also revisited the Diyatalawa CRDP sites that were previously visited during a joint oversight with the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform, to determine progress that has been made since the last visit in 2011. The Committee also visited the Diyatalawa CPA, which constitutes an Irrigation project, Apple project, Diyatalawa Dairy project, inter alia.

Diyatalawa Irrigation Project

The construction of the irrigation system was completed and the project was operational. The system pumps water from Elands River to the reservoir, from which pivots are used to irrigate lucerne that is used to feed the dairy cattle. At the time of the visit, the contractor was also on site to fix some technical problem with one of the pipes. The challenge is security as some of the irrigation equipment was stolen and the project currently pays 2 security guards to look after the irrigation system and their cattle. The project also needs assistance from the Department of Water Affairs to subsidise the project with water.

Diyatalawa Apple Project

The apple orchard area has been fenced and apple cuttings planted on 2 hectares of land. The plan is to have 10 hectares planted with apples.

Diyatalawa Dairy Project

The Dairy was up and running, currently milking 20 cattle and producing 80 litres of milk per day. The CPA plans to increase production and milk 50 cattle per day so that they can produce more milk. The project supplies milk to Nestlé and Bethlehem Hospital.

Kgolokoeng Potato Project (Thabo Mofutsanyana District)

The Kgolokoeng potato project is situated in Makholokoeng village near Harrismith. The project started in 2011, has 9 beneficiaries and mainly produces potatoes, maize and dry beans. The storage shed and pack house worth R7.5 million were built for the project by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR). In the 2012/13 financial year, the project received R2.5 million from the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development through CASP for fencing, planting equipment, as well as potato washing and grading equipment. The provincial Department then assisted with the planting of 10 ha of potatoes and 30 ha of maize. In the current financial year, the project managed to plant only 7 ha of potatoes and the Department had assisted with planting 40 ha of dry beans. The project has no formal market for potatoes but sells to the local community and Harrismith; and is currently negotiating with McCain.  Dry beans are sold through an intermediary in Pretoria. The project employs 131 community members on a temporary basis.

The main challenge of the project was access to water, lack of management capacity by the beneficiaries and theft as some of the products were being stolen. The project had to appoint a security guard to look after the fields in the evenings.

3.2.12 Vrystaat Korporasie Beperk (VKB) and Broiler Abattoir

(Thabo Mofutsanyana District)

The provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development partnered with VKB to establish six broiler houses at Tweeling, each with a capacity of 40 000 chickens. The provincial Department invested R15.6 million in the project to commercialise poultry projects in the district , provide for food security and job creation. Five broiler houses were constructed at Tweeling, three at Bovenuit farm (see section 3.2.13 below) and two at the municipal commonage. The five broiler houses are in operation and have supplied the VKB-run poultry abattoir with 160 000 chickens in their first and second cycles. The provincial Department reported that the sixth broiler house will be in operation soon. The project was reported to have created more than 560 job opportunities with the potential to create more than 800 jobs once it is in full operation.

3.2.13 Bovenuit Farm (Thabo Mofutsanyana District)

The farm was bought by the owner after being on municipal land for several years. The farm is located between Frankfort and Tweeling and its extent is 171 hectares. The farm produces broilers and vegetables, which are sold locally. It is funded through CASP and Ilima/letsema grants. The main challenge is security as fencing is needed around the vegetable tunnels.

4. COMMITTEE CONCLUSIONS

The Portfolio Committee, having interacted with the Free State provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the projects management teams including the beneficia r ies of the different projects on infrastructure development and production, concluded as follows:

  • There has been a commendable improvement in the utilisation of conditional grants and progress in the development of infrastructure in Free State since the previous visit by the joint Committees in 2011. The HOD and his team were commended for their efforts and future plans. The Committee further commended the HOD for his dedication and for availing himself to travel with the Committee for the duration of the oversight.

  • The Committee needs to improve coordination of oversight visits with the provincial Standing Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development to ensure that they are able to accompany the Portfolio Committee on oversight visits.

  • The Committee noted that it did not meet all the objectives of the oversight visit as it could not visit most specific mechanisation projects and only one irrigation project was visited (Diyatalawa). However, interactions with the Department and project beneficiaries afforded the Committee greater understanding of the challenges regarding the implementation of the Mechanisation Programme. Hence, the Committee was satisfied with the Province’s plans for the Programme.

  • Most of the visited projects were doing relatively well despite some challenges that they still had and the Committee would have preferred to be also taken to projects that are not doing well. For almost all the projects that were visited, market information and access to markets are still the greatest challenges that threaten their sustainability.

  • Lack of intergovernmental relations – minimal coordination and collaboration between different departments including the different spheres of Government. For example, in the Waya Waya project, there is competition between the provincial Department and the District, which should not be the case as all spheres of Government are supposed to work together in changing the lives of the people of South Africa.

  • When the Committee visited the Makgolokoeng projects in 2011, the projects had a challenge with sourcing water. Although there is currently a water harvesting project, water availability is still a challenge at Makgolokoeng and in other projects including Diyatalawa irrigation scheme, which requires intervention.

  • There is a need for the provincial Department to closely monitor black economic empowerment (BEE) partnerships particularly in terms of capacity building (skills transfer), management capacity, beneficiary participation, shareholding models – for example, in the Vergezocht Plant Oils (Pty) Ltd, where the only beneficiary at the management level had no capacity to explain the project financial management, and the other beneficiaries were said to be on lunch for the duration of the visit.

  • The challenge regarding the finalisation of the agreement between South Africa and China on the Xhariep Dam Aquaculture project is stalling the implementation of the project and the development of aquaculture in the province.

  • There is still no clear exit strategy for projects that are largely supported by the Department; and for some projects, lack of management/governance capacity by project owners and/or beneficiaries is a challenge that needs to be addressed as it stifles progress, for example, the Kgolokoeng Potato project.

  • There is a need for acquisition of additional land for the Qala Botja Ostrich project through land reform.

  • There is a need for improved monitoring and evaluation (M & E) of projects and conditional grant spending at the provincial level and by DAFF, whose responsibility in provinces is unclear.

5.         RECOMMENDATIONS

The Committee recommends that the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries should:

  • Speed up the process of signing the agreement between the Chinese and South African Governments on the Xhariep Dam Aquaculture Project for the benefit of the people of South Africa.

·       Facilitate intergovernmental relations to avoid conflicting or overlapping projects among the different spheres of government to ensure optimal use of resources. This should be done on a continual basis.

  • Liaise with the Minister of Water Affairs to ensure that the Kgolokoeng Potato project gets access to water to ensure the success of the project; and negotiate for the Diyatalawa Irrigation project to be subsidised as it is a project of developing farmers.

That the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF):

  • Submits to the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries the impact evaluation report on CASP, a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (M & E) for conditional grants and an M & E Report of its conditional grants for 2013/14 by the end of March 2014.

  • Must update the Committee on progress regarding the implementation of the National Mechanisation Policy as provinces operate according to their own different policies. Must respond to all the recommendations in this Oversight Report within 3 months after the adoption of the Report by the House.

That DAFF, which disburses conditional grants to provinces, ensures that within 3 months of the adoption of this oversight report, the Free State Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development:

  • Prioritises capacity building and management training for all project beneficiaries as lack of governance and accountability have been identified as some of the challenges.

  • Monitors and evaluates shareholding, benefit sharing and beneficiary involvement in BEE partnership projects on a quarterly basis, particularly at the Vergezocht Plant Oils project.

  • Assists and guides the Waya Waya Layers in their growth plans, and in marketing and branding themselves to sell directly to retailers instead of being contract layers.

  • Establishes and coordinates a forum for developing chicken businesses (broilers and layers) in the province to enhance collaboration between the Province and the District.

  • Source funding from CASP and the Department of Trade and Industry for investment in fish hatcheries and skills development for aquaculture development as the Free State can serve as a model for inland aquaculture.

  • By the end of the financial year (2013/14), assists the Gotswametsing Fisheries project in its expansion plans including regular training and community awareness on the value of farmed fish to secure local markets.

  • Liaise with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) regarding land acquisition for the expansion of the Qala Botja Ostrich Farm and provide regular training in the ostrich business including the processing that the project beneficiaries are interested in.

  • Provide the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries with a report on how theft at the Kgolokoeng Potato Project has been addressed. The Department should also speed up the process of sourcing additional equipment for the Makgolokoeng community.

  • Review its monitoring and evaluation policy within the province to curb corruption and avoid wasteful expenditure.

  • Respond to the Committee with an update on all the recommendations within six months after the adoption of this Report by the House.

Report to be considered.

Documents

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