ATC140407: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on activities undertaken during the Fourth Parliament (May 2009 – March 2014)

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES ON ACTIVITIES UNDERTAKEN DURING THE FOURTH PARLIAMENT (MAY 2009 – MARCH 2014)
 

1. PURPOSE OF THE REPORT

 

The purpose of this report is to provide an account of the work of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (hereinafter referred to as the Committee) during the Fourth Parliament; and to inform the Members of the new Parliament of key outstanding issues pertaining to the oversight and legislative programme of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (hereinafter referred to as the Department) and its entities.

 

This report provides an overview of the activities the Committee undertook during the Fourth Parliament, the outcome of key activities, as well as any challenges that emerged during the period under review and issues that should be considered for follow-up during the 5 th Parliament. It summarises the key issues for follow-up and concludes with recommendations to strengthen operational and procedural processes to enhance the Committee’s oversight and legislative roles in future.

 

2. INTRODUCTION

 

2.1 The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

 

2.1.1 Functions of the Committee

 

The mandate of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (hereinafter referred to as the Committee) is derived from the mission and vision of Parliament and in line with the powers of the Committee as mandated by Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The Committee is therefore, mandated to:

· consider, amend and/or initiate legislation that is specific to, or impacts on agriculture, forestry and fisheries;

· consider and review the strategic plans and budgets of the Department and its entities;

· monitor and oversee the activities, financial and non-financial performance of the Ministry and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (hereinafter referred to as the Department) and its entities;

· monitor and oversee the implementation of the Department’s policies and legislation;

· consider sector-related international treaties and agreements; and

· provide a platform for the public to participate and present views on specific topics and/or legislation in relation to the three sectors.

 

2.1.2 Method of Work of the Committee

 

The Committee held weekly meetings on Tuesdays (allotted slot) but often more than once a week as per each Committee Term programme to:

· Engage the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and its entities on topical issues and other legislative mandates.

· Consider Strategic Plans, Annual Performance Plans (APPs), Budgets and Annual Reports of the Department and its entities.

· Oversee the implementation of the Department and entities’ programmes and budgetary use as per the APPs for each relevant Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period.

· Consider Legislation as tabled.

· Consider the State of the Nation Address.

· Engage the Department on government priorities as per the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).

· Hold Public Hearings on topical issues and legislation that is being processed.

· Undertake oversight visits to provinces and entities.

· Address submissions by stakeholders.

· Engage other relevant government departments and institutions such as the Auditor-General, the Competition Commission, Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC), the Public Protector, etc. on sectoral issues.

2.1.3 Sectoral Stakeholders that the Committee interacted with during the Fourth Parliament

 

The following table presents some of the stakeholders that interacted with the Committee on sectoral matters:

Farmer Organisations & Commodity Groups

Fishing Companies & Fisheries Organisations

Government agencies

Academic institutions

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

Trade Unions

 

AgriSA

 

National Emergent Red Meat Producers Organisation (NERPO)

 

African Farmers Association of South Africa (AFASA)

 

National Agricultural Farmers Union (NAFU),

 

National Wool Growers Association (NWGA)

 

Grain SA

 

South African Poultry Association (SAPA)

 

South African Pork Producers Organisation (SAPPO)

 

Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF)

 

Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE)

 

Milk Producers Organisation (MPO)

 

Potato South Africa

 

South African Agricultural Processors Association (SAAPA)

 

 

Oceana

 

Sea Harvest

 

Coastal Link South Africa

 

Feike

 

First Indigenous Women of Houtbay

 

Fish SA

 

 

Hottentots Holland Fishers Association

 

Ibhayi Fishing

 

Masifundise Development Trust

 

South African United Fishing Front

 

Umoya Fishing & Processing

 

Artisanal Fishers Association

 

West Coast Rock Lobster Association

 

Youth Group of Small-scale Fishers

 

Helderberg Artisanal Fishers

 

Ocean View Community Fishing Forum

 

Ocean View/Witsand Artisanal Fishers Association

 

AgriSETA

 

South African Wine Industry Trust (SAWIT)

 

South African Forestry Company (SAFCOL)

 

Legal Resources Centre

 

 

 

Stellenbosch University

 

University of the Western Cape

 

University of KwaZulu-Natal

 

University of Free State

 

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

 

 

African Centre for Biosafety

 

AfricaBio

 

 

 

Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU)

 

Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)

 

2.2 The Department and Entities falling within the Committee’s Portfolio

 

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was newly established in 2009 following the amalgamation of forestry and fisheries sectors into the former Department of Agriculture through proclamations signed by the President. Before 2009, Agriculture was a separate Department within the former Ministry of Agriculture and Land Affairs; Forestry was within the former Department of Water Affairs and Forestry; and Fisheries (the functions of which are still split between two Departments) was Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) within the former Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. The amalgamation of the Forestry sector into Agriculture went smoothly while that of Fisheries was done in phases after two proclamations signed by the President relating to specific Sections of the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA), 1998 (Act No. 18 of 1998) and the Sea Fisheries Act, 1988 (Act No. 12 of 1988), which govern Fisheries. The first proclamation to transfer parts of the MCM as Fisheries, to Agriculture, was signed on 26 June 2009 and came into effect on 01 March 2010. The Fisheries amalgamation also saw the transfer of the Marine Living Resources Fund, an entity within the Fisheries Branch, into the new Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

 

2.2.1 Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

 

The aim of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is to lead, support and promote agricultural, forestry and fisheries resources growth and management through policies, strategies and programmes that contribute to and embrace economic growth and development; job creation; sustainable use of natural resources; food security and rural development. The Department’s legislative mandate is derived from Section 27(1)(b), as well as Section 24(b)(iii) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

In addition, the Department contributes directly to three of the 12 national government priority outcomes for the MTSF, namely:

 

· Outcome 4: Decent employment through inclusive economic growth.

· Outcome 7: Vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities contributing towards food security for all.

· Outcome 10: Protect and enhance our environmental assets and natural resources.

 

The Department’s six key strategic goals, which are oriented towards the above priority outcomes, with some associated objectives through which it plans to achieve its objectives over the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) period are:

 

1) Increased profitable production of food, fibre and timber products by all categories of producers (subsistence, small holder and commercial).

o Create employment by increasing the number of participants in the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sectors through support for smallholders and processors.

o Improve the food security initiative by coordinating production systems to increase the profitable production, handling and processing of food, fibre and timber products by all categories of producers.

2) Sustained management of natural resources.

o Ensure the sustainable use of natural resources by means of promoting environmentally sustainable production systems and the efficient use of natural resources.

3) Effective national regulatory services and risk management systems.

4) A transformed and united sector.

5) Increased contribution of the sector to economic growth and development.

o Improve the income and conditions of farm workers, foresters and fishers.

o Enhance exports by facilitating market access for agricultural, forestry and fisheries products.

6) Effective and efficient governance.

 

2.2.2 Entities of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

 

Name of Entity

Role of Entity

 

Agricultural Research Council (ARC)

The ARC was established in terms of Section 2 of the Agricultural Research Act, 1990 (Act No. 86 of 1990). The ARC is the principal agricultural research institution in the county. It provides agricultural research and development, technology transfer and support to the agricultural community. In addition, the ARC is the custodian of the country's national collections of insects.

 

Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP)

 

The OBP was established in terms of the Onderstepoort Biological Products Incorporation Act, 1999 (Act No.19 of 1999); and is listed under the PFMA as a Schedule 3B Public Entity. It is a state-owned bio-technical company that manufactures livestock vaccines and related products for the global animal health care industry.

 

National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC)

 

The NAMC was established in terms of Section 3 and 4 of the Marketing of Agricultural Products Act, 1996 (Act No. 47 of 1996) as amended by Act No. 52 of 2001. The core mandate of the NAMC is to investigate and advise the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on agricultural marketing policies and their application, and to co-ordinate agricultural marketing policy in relation to national economic, social and development policies and international trends and developments.

 

Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB)

 

The PPECB was established in terms of Section 2 of the Perishable Products Export Control Act, 1983 (Act No. 9 of 1983). It is a public entity that is listed in the PFMA as a Schedule 3A Public Entity. The PPECB controls the export shipment of perishable produce from South Africa and the order of shipment at all ports; makes recommendations on the handling of perishable produce when moved to and from railway trucks and other vehicles or cold stores; and promotes uniform freight rates for the export of perishable products.

 

Ncera Farms (Pty) Ltd (hereinafter referred to as Ncera)

 

 

Ncera Farms (Pty) Ltd is a public company listed under Schedule 3B in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act No. 1 of 1999) as amended. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is the sole shareholder. It is situated in the Eastern Cape on state-owned land of approximately 4 000 hectares. The primary function of Ncera is to assist developing farmers and rural communities by providing a variety of services such as advice and training, agricultural extension services, the mechanisation of agricultural production, animal improvement schemes and marketing of agricultural products.

 

 

Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF)

The MLRF was established in terms of Section 10 of the MLRA and is a schedule 3A Public Entity as specified under the PFMA. The MLRF is the main source of funding for the operational activities of the Fisheries Branch. In terms of Section 10(3) of the MLRA, the Director-General of the Department administers the MLRF in consultation with the Minister. The functions of the MLRF are executed by the staff of the Branch in partnership with other stakeholders in the fisheries-related industry. The mandate and core business of the MLRF is to manage the development and sustainable use of South Africa’s marine resources, to protect the integrity and quality of the marine ecosystem and to ensure the growth of the aquaculture sector.

 

South African Veterinary Council (SAVC)

SAVC is a representative organisation of the veterinary and para-veterinary professions promoting the health and well-being of all people of South Africa through the promotion of animal health production and well-being.

 

 

 

 

 

The Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa (Land Bank)

 

The Land Bank was established in terms of Section 1 of the Land Bank Act, 1912 (Act No. 18 of 1912), which was repealed by Section 53 of the Land Bank Act, 1944 (Act No. 13 of 1944), which was further repealed by the Land and Agricultural Development Bank Act, 2002 (Act No. 15 of 2002). The Land Bank operates as a development finance institution within the agricultural and agribusiness sectors. It provides a range of finance options to a broad spectrum of clients in the agricultural sector, including entrepreneurs, women and youth through its network of branches and satellite offices.

However, the Land Bank has since July 2008 been administered by the National Treasury following a proclamation from the President and therefore, accounts to the Minister of Finance. As a result, the Committee experienced challenges in getting the Land Bank to report to the Committee on its activities.

 

3. STATISTICS OF COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES

 

The table below provides an overview of the number of meetings held, legislation and the number of oversight trips undertaken by the Committee, as well as any statutory appointments the Committee made, during the Fourth Parliament:

 

 

Activity

 

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

Total

Meetings held

13

 

32

23

36

49

153

Legislation processed

 

None

None

None

1

2

3

Oversight trips undertaken

 

2

1

2

4

3

12

Study tours undertaken

 

None

None

None

None

None

N/A

International agreements processed

 

None

None

None

None

None

N/A

Statutory appointments made

 

None

None

None

3

1

4

Petitions considered

None

None

None

None

1

1

 

 

4. LEGISLATION REFERRED AND PROCESSED

 

The following pieces of legislation were referred to the Committee and processed during the Fourth Parliament:

 

Year

Name of Legislation

Tagging

Objectives

Completed/Not Completed

 

 

 

 

 

2009/10

None

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010/11

None

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2011/12

None

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012/13

Veterinary and Para-veterinary Professions Amendment Bill [B25 - 2012 ]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Section 75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Amendment Bill sought to amend the Veterinary and Para-veterinary Professions Act, as amended by Acts No. 19 of 1989, No. 13 of 1993 and No. 10 of 2002. The new Amendment Bill sought to provide for:

· the establishment of an Appeal Committee

and its functions;

· the performance of compulsory community

service by certain persons registering in terms of the Act;

· the registration of a person who has completed the relevant qualification but which has not been conferred;

· a registered foreign veterinarian to continue practising by attaining either

citizenship or permanent residency;

· the appointment and powers of inspection

officers;

· the investigation of complaints and cost

orders; and other

· matters connected therewith.

 

Completed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013/14

Fertilisers and Feeds Bill

[B41 – 2012]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill [B30 – 2013]

Section 76

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Section 76

· The Bill sought to provide for the licensing of facilities and rendering plants;

· the registration of feed additives, raw materials, animal by-products, imported fertilisers, feeds or pet foods, and home mixers;

· the appointment of a Registrar to administer the Act;

· the establishment of the Technical Standards Advisory Council; and

· other matters connected therewith.

 

 

· The Bill seeks to amend the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998 (Act No. 18 of 1998), so as to insert, amend or delete certain definitions;

· to make provision for measures relating to small-scale fishing and for the powers and duties of the Minister in this regard;

· to effect technical amendments; and

· to provide for other matters connected therewith.

 

The Committee referred the Bill back to the Department and during that process, it was subsequently withdrawn by the Minister

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Completed

 

 

4.1 Challenges encountered in the processing of Legislation

 

Procedurally, the Committee experienced delays in the processing and finalisation of the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill due to uncertainty regarding its tagging. The Bill was introduced to Parliament as a proposed Section 75 and was eventually changed and tagged as a Section 76 Bill. The Committee expressed dissatisfaction with the legal advice that they received from Parliament and recommended that proper consultation should take place between the legal advisors with respect to tagging before any Bill is referred to the Committee.

 

5. COMMITTEE’S FOCUS AREAS, BRIEFINGS AND/OR PUBLIC HEARINGS

DURING THE FOURTH PARLIAMENT

 

5.1 FOCUS AREAS AND BRIEFINGS OVER THE 5-YEAR TERM

 

In the beginning of the Fourth Parliament the Committee focused on the alignment of the three sectors (agriculture, forestry and fisheries) that constitute the Department, budget adjustments and re-alignments as forestry and fisheries were previously budgeted for under different votes, and policy instruments through which the Department operate.

 

The Committee also focused on overseeing how the Department’s activities were contributing to the fulfilment of the National Government Priority Outcomes that relate to the three sectors. In the medium term, the Department’s policy initiatives were focused at fulfilling Outcomes 4 and Outcome 7, which relate to job creation, food security and rural development.

 

It should be noted that while in certain cases the Committee requested specific extensive briefings on topical issues across all three sectors that are in the ambit of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, most of the issues and programmes were also dealt with through the reporting processes on quarterly performance and briefings on budgets and annual reports.

 

The Committee achieved its target of holding briefings on Strategic Plans, Budgets and Annual Reports of the Department and its entities on an annual basis. Furthermore, the Committee managed to hold briefings with the Department on its quarterly performance and expenditure, with the exception of the 2013/14 financial year in which the Committee was briefed on the first and second quarterly reports. Whilst the Committee engaged and held briefings on many areas, particularly in Agriculture, the following were the key Committee focus areas in overseeing the activities of the Department and its entities during the Fourth Parliament:

 

5.1.1 Technical and Post-settlement Support

 

The Committee’s main focus on technical support has been on the provision of extension services and monitoring of the extension recovery programme (ERP), market information and access, capacity building and skills training of farmers, as well as pre- and post-settlement support for land reform beneficiaries. While the Committee’s activities in this regard focused on Agriculture, the Committee also emphasised similar and/or relevant technical support for developing producers in the Forestry sector and small-scale fishers in the Fisheries sector.

 

The Committee recognised that farmers, particularly land reform beneficiaries needed training on skills that they have not acquired including business and financial management, assistance with markets as well as continuous technical support for their chosen ventures. Farmers and Members of the Committee noted that the extension service is failing and have been equally raising concerns regarding the invisibility of extension officers in farming areas and lack of advisory and technical support to land reform beneficiaries. In areas where there are extension officers, farmers complained about their lack of skills, an issue which has also been raised by the developing farmer commodity organisation, NERPO. A Draft National Policy on Extension and Advisory Services is under development and is still undergoing a consultation process.

 

5.1.2 Mechanisation

 

In terms of mechanisation, the Committee emphasised the development and provision of infrastructure across all three sectors, provision of equipment and revitalisation of irrigation schemes. A number of challenges were raised regarding mechanisation particularly the provision and distribution of tractors and other farming implements in different provinces. In terms of the distribution of tractors and farming equipment, provinces are doing different things with some having provincial policies whilst some do not. In this regard, the Committee has been emphasising the development of a national policy to ensure uniformity and accountability. The Department has since 2011 developed a Draft Mechanisation Policy, which is still undergoing a consultation process at Cabinet level. The country has various irrigation schemes mostly in the former homelands, from which communities derived a livelihood but have since been left derelict. The revitalisation of these irrigation schemes has been a Government focus since 2007 and the Committee further engaged the Department on the revitalisation of these irrigation schemes to assist the communities surrounding them. The National Development Plan (NDP) recognises that agriculture is the primary economic activity in rural areas and has the potential to create one million new jobs by 2030 by expanding irrigated agriculture. Some of the irrigation schemes such as Taung in the North West and Makhathini Flats in KwaZulu-Natal have since been revitalised but there are still challenges with their utilisation, management and water licensing.

 

5.1.3 Financial Support

 

The Department has various financial instruments for different farming categories and activities, which are funded through conditional grants such as Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP), Ilima/letsema and LandCare. In addition, there is also the Micro Agricultural Financial Institutions of South Africa (Mafisa), which provides micro loans of up to R100 000 to developing farmers. The Committee has been advocating for a one-stop-shop for farmer support whereby all the conditional grants and other financial support programmes of the Department are pooled and centrally managed to provide all the different kinds of services that farmers and land reform beneficiaries require. The Committee also emphasised the monitoring and evaluation of the funding instruments and the inclusion of Forestry and Fisheries in the Department’s support programmes for previously disadvantaged individuals. Currently, small-scale fishers receive assistance on financial support and fishing equipment (boats) from the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti).

 

5.1.4 Food Security and Food Safety

 

The country has an Integrated Food Security Strategy (IFSS) that was developed in 2002, which remains an overarching and well-intentioned Strategy that is premised on the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s food security definition and is also linked to Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1. However, the IFSS has not been effectively implemented in a coordinated manner to realise maximum impact across all sectors; as departments still work in silos. The Department did not have a specific policy on food security but has been addressing food security by providing support through CASP for smallholder producers, Ilima/letsema for subsistence producers and various other programmes that are targeted at poor households through distribution of agricultural starter packs. The Committee has been engaging the Department on the absence of a Food Security Policy that is aligned with the IFSS, the absence of a monitoring and evaluation framework to ensure accountability for the funds allocated to provinces and evaluation of the impact of the different support programmes (CASP was established in 2004) on food insecurity and livelihood improvement. The Committee recognised that South Africa may be reportedly food secure at the national scale with the help of imports but millions of households in South Africa are food insecure and poverty-related food insecurity has also increased in urban areas. In this regard, the Committee emphasised food self-sufficiency by improving the productive capacity of developing farmers and households through a one-stop-shop support programme that has been alluded to under Financial Support. The Department have recently drafted a Monitoring and Evaluation (M & E) Framework for CASP, which still needs to be reviewed to include all conditional grants as has been recommended by the Committee. A National Food and Nutrition Security Policy, which is the collaboration between the Department and the Department of Social Development was approved by Cabinet in September 2013.

 

Food safety came under public spotlight in recent years due to outbreaks of diseases that are derived from plant and animal-based products either through consumption or contact, particularly with animals (for example, avian influenza, swine fever, mad cow disease, etc.). The food safety discussions also included briefings and discussions on brine injection in poultry and the use and availability of genetically-modified (GM) food products in South Africa. Most recently, in 2013, food safety came under spotlight again following media reports on mislabelling of meat products. The Committee has been holding the Department into account regarding effective and rigorous food safety and biosafety measures as failure to address food products safety may negatively impact agricultural production and the economy of the country, as well as employment in the sector. In its interactions with the Department on the subject, the Committee recognised that the administration and management of foot safety is multi-sectoral. Therefore, the Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Health (DoH) and Trade and Industry (the dti) were tasked by the joint parliamentary Portfolio Committees overseeing the respective sectors to work collaboratively in developing an integrated food safety framework for the country as opposed to the different pieces of legislation under different Departments that all deal with food safety. In this regard, the relevant Minsters approved the establishment of the Inter-departmental Food Safety Coordinating Committee (IDFSCC), which has since formed a Technical Working Group that is working on the establishment of a Food Safety Agency for the country. The IDFSCC constitute the Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Health and Trade and Industry, as well as the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS).

 

5.1.5 Rural Development

 

Agriculture is often considered as the backbone of the rural economy and a driver of rural economic development. Outcome 7, which focuses on rural development, is chaired by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), while the Department is co-chairing, given its role in ensuring food security through agricultural production in these areas. In addition, the Department is responsible for the Agrarian Transformation pillar of the DRDLR’s Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP). In this regard, the two Departments are expected to work closely in a well-coordinated manner to ensure accelerated development and increased agricultural production in rural areas. While DRDLR may ensure availability of land for production including relevant rural infrastructure, the Department is supposed to lead and advise on any technical aspects related to agriculture, forestry or fisheries including the feasibility, monitoring, as well as ensuring market access for such projects. The Committee has held joint meetings and conducted a number of joint oversight visits with the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform to oversee the implementation of the CRDP and progress in the land reform programme. While the two Departments are still not working collaboratively on CRDP projects, in some provinces, where Agriculture and Rural Development are under one provincial Department, there are collaborative activities. Lack of collaboration between Departments was seen by the Committee as impeding land reform progress and subsequently rural development; and resulted in wastage of resources through duplication of activities.

 

5.1.6 Job Creation

 

Unemployment, a measure of economic development, is one of the factors affecting economic development in South Africa, particularly in rural areas. Given its labour-intensiveness and the ability to absorb unskilled and semi-skilled labour, agriculture has great potential to assist Government in the fight against poverty and unemployment as it plays a critical role in producing food for the country and in the subsistence of the rural poor. Creation of decent jobs is one of the main foci of the country’s New Growth Path (NGP) in which the agricultural value chain is one of the job drivers through smallholder schemes in industrial products, the export of wine and fruit as well as extension services.

 

The Department has job creation programmes that are linked to the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) such as LandCare and Working on Fire in agriculture and forestry, respectively, and Working for Fisheries in fisheries. LandCare also addresses Outcome 10. The Department further aims to create more sustainable jobs through the development of smallholder producers. The Committee has been engaging the Department on the EPWP job-creation projects, the nature and sustainability of jobs created in relation to funding invested as well as the development of agro-processing (including aquaculture), which has been identified as one of the job drivers in the NGP and the Industrial Policy Action Plan 2 (IPAP2). In terms of agro-processing, which has been identified in the IPAP2 and NGP as a job driver to create 145 000 new jobs by 2020, the Department has approved an Agro-processing Strategic Framework in 2012 to address unemployment. Agro-processing is a very important area across all three sectors with the highest potential to create not just jobs but new entrepreneurs particularly from the thousands of unemployed agricultural graduates.

 

5.1.7 Climate Change and Disaster Management

 

Climate change, which is rapidly emerging as one of the most acute environmental problems of the 21 st century, exacerbates existing environmental, social and economic problems while bringing new challenges. It may put more pressure on the country’s scarce resources, with implications for agricultural production, forestry and sustainability of fisheries resources, as well as on employment and food security. Members of the Committee have taken part in parliamentary discussions on Climate Change and some have attended the different United Nations (UN) Conferences of the Parties on Climate Change since 2010. The Committee has had a number of briefings on the subject and has been holding the Department into account regarding its activities to raise awareness, particularly to farmers, mitigation and adaptation initiatives and the development of an integrated sectoral plan/strategy on climate change. To date the Department has since developed a Climate Change Mitigation Plan and a Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which have not been implemented yet.

 

In recent years, South Africa has been more prone to natural disasters (droughts, floods and veld fires) that affected agriculture and forestry. Floods and droughts, which are usually accompanied by high air temperatures, can also have a negative impact on fisheries resources. Climate change can exacerbate the frequency and impact of such natural disasters. The Committee visited some of the disaster affected areas and continuously held briefings with the Department on disaster response and management. The Committee has consistently raised concerns with the Department’s slow and ineffective response to disasters that affect the sector and the fact that the Department focuses more on post-disaster response rather than mitigation and risk reduction through early warning systems.

 

5.1.8 Disease Outbreaks

 

In the past four years, the country has seen outbreaks of diseases of economic importance that had a negative impact on the agricultural sector in particular. These include Rift Valley fever (RVF), avian influenza, Johne’s disease, brucellosis, army worms, African Horse Sickness (AHS), citrus black spot (CBS), and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). The latter two diseases led to bans of South African citrus, meat and livestock product exports to the European Union (EU) and other countries. With briefings also from the industry, the Committee engaged intensely on disease outbreaks and how the matter was addressed. The Committee’s focus regarding the briefings on disease outbreaks has been on the regulatory frameworks and control measures locally, across borders and on ports of entry, including the role of the Department’s veterinary and extension services in disease awareness and prevention. South Africa’s status of FMD-free without vaccination was formally reinstated by the OIE on 14 February 2014 and the ban on meat and livestock product exports was subsequently lifted. However, the ban on the country’s citrus exports due to CBS is still applicable in the EU.

 

5.1.9 Transformation in the Forestry Sector

 

Whilst transformation across all sectors has been a constant matter during annual departmental briefings to the Committee, specific briefings were also held with Forest Sector Charter Council and SAFCOL regarding the representation and participation of previously disadvantaged individuals on Forestry-related businesses. Challenges that have been identified but not resolved in the Forestry sector are the settlement of land claims on forest land and challenges associated with getting water licenses, particularly for community forestry projects and other previously disadvantaged forestry entrepreneurs. The Committee emphasised coordinated activities with the Department of Water Affairs and the DRDLR, as well as training and support services for new entrants.

 

5.1.10 Management of Fisheries Research and Surveillance/Patrol Vessels

 

The Committee engaged the Department on the management of long-term contracts and service level agreements (SLAs) for the management of Fisheries Vessels. The matter came under spotlight when the contract of the vessel management service provider expired in 2011 and the Department did not have an immediate contingency plan to ensure that research activities and the monitoring and surveillance of fisheries resources continue without disturbance. It was during this period that some of the old vessels such as the Africana were found by the South African Navy to be in a state of disrepair and needed to be replaced. The Committee was particularly concerned about the contracting process, lack of monitoring and constant re-evaluation of the contracts, vessel maintenance clauses within the contracts and regular spot checks on the condition of the vessels. The Committee recommended that the Department should initiate a process of replacing the old and ailing vessels.

 

5.1.11 Fishing Rights Allocation

 

Small-scale and artisanal fishers have through various forms of correspondence and in public hearings, highlighted that they were not benefitting from the fishing rights allocation process as it favours the commercial fishery. Where rights were allocated to small-scale fishers, they were minimal, for a short period and were not accompanied by support programmes to ensure that the fishers derive livelihoods and economic benefits from such rights. The Committee engaged the Department on the subject and advocated for the provision of support to small-scale and artisanal fishers, and the finalisation of the Small-scale Fishing Rights Policy, which was concluded in 2012. One of the issues that was also raised was fronting and paper quotas, where black faces or names were reportedly used by commercial companies to gain rights without providing any benefits to those black people. The Committee recommended that the fishing rights allocation process needs to be audited and monitored and transgressors penalised and brought to book.

 

 

5.2 CHALLENGES ENCOUNTERED DURING COMMITTEE BRIEFINGS

 

· The Committee experienced consistent challenges regarding the late submission of briefing documents and presentations by the Department and in some cases, the Department does not submit information that is requested by the Committee or submits incomplete information to the Committee. This compromised the intensity with which the Committee can engage with the subject or topic in which they are briefed by the Department or any other entity or stakeholder.

 

· Another persistent challenge, which has also been raised by the Auditor-General (AG) is the Department’s targets in Annual Performance Plans (APPs) that are not aligned with performance indicators and/or strategic objectives. Inconsistent reporting and non-alignment of the Strategic Plan with the Annual Report has also been consistently raised by the Committee; and it is also happening in some of the Department’s entities.

 

 

5.3 PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

5.3.1 Transformation in the Agricultural Sector: 17 September 2010

 

Transformation in the agricultural industry in general has been seen as slow and at times, failing. Consequently, in September 2010, the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (PC on AFF) held Public Hearings in Parliament to address the subject. During the hearings it emerged that the black population is poorly represented in the agricultural business; and emerging producers in South Africa were finding it difficult to integrate into the formal supply chains and to enter the export markets as most were not receiving the necessary assistance from the Department.

 

Throughout the Fourth Parliament, the Committee has been receiving briefings from the Department and entities on progress made towards representation of previously disadvantaged individuals and companies in their business activities. The Committee has also been receiving briefings from the AgriBEE Charter Council and updates on the AgriBEE Fund, which is responsible for promoting entry and ensuring the participation of black businesses in the entire value chain with a particular focus on equity and enterprise development. The Committee has consistently voiced their dissatisfaction with the administration and non-utilisation of the AgriBEE Fund to the extent that funds have to be returned to the National Revenue Fund (NRF) on a yearly basis. By the end of November 2013, an amount of R231 million from the AgriBEE Fund had to be returned to the NRF because the Department failed to effectively utilise it.

 

 

 

5.3.2 Transformation in the Fisheries Sector: 14-15 June 2011

 

The Committee received correspondence from organisations representing workers in the fishing industry and small-scale fishers. The Committee also received briefings from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Environmental Affairs, which is responsible for certain sections of the former Marine and Coastal Management Branch. Having undertaken an oversight visit to the West Coast in 2010 and following a number of briefings from the Departments, in June 2011, the Committee held Public Hearings on transformation in the fisheries sector. The key issues that emerged from the Public Hearings was that benefits from fisheries still accrued to the large commercial companies that always had an advantage and some of these even use fronting to gain certain benefits from government (e.g. fishing rights allocation). It also emerged that where fisheries development activities were taking place, they were only focused on the Western Cape Province at the exclusion of the three other coastal provinces, namely, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape. In cases where previously disadvantaged individuals or groups received fishing rights, it was reported that they could not use them as they did not have fishing equipment and in most cases, to make ends meet, they were forced to “sell” those rights to companies with equipment.

 

Another issue that came out strongly from the Hearings was the absence of labour rights including employment benefits, security and insurance for people who work on the fishing boats at sea. Examples were given, of people who died and/or got maimed from accidents at sea, whose families never received compensation nor in extreme cases, informed of the death. In this regard, the Committee recommended that the Department should engage with the Department of Labour to look into the matter and establish a fund for the sea that is similar to the Road Accident Fund; and develop labour-related regulations specifically for people who work at sea. It was further proposed that there should be an engagement with the Department of Mineral Resources to establish a fuel rebate system to allow fishers to be refunded as they are not using roads but pay a fuel levy.

 

6. PETITIONS

 

The following petition was referred to the Committee:

Title

Submitted by

Date referred

Current status

 

Petition requesting a ban on the import of Dow Chemical’s GM maize variety DAS-40278-9 for food, feed and processing, as well as a full enquiry into the decision-making process for GMO permits in South Africa, submitted in terms of Rule 312.

 

African Centre for Biosafety

 

15 August 2012

 

Considered

 

7. OVERSIGHT TRIPS UNDERTAKEN

 

In addition to briefings and public hearings and to further strengthen its legislative mandate, the Committee undertook oversight visits to various government-funded projects in provinces and also visited some of the entities of the Department to ensure that what was presented in Parliament was in fact happening on the ground. Some of the oversight visits for land reform were undertaken jointly with the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform. The following oversight trips were undertaken during the Fourth Parliament:

 

Date

 

Area visited

Objectives of Oversight

Recommendations

01-03 February 2010

Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces

 

To assess the implementation and impact of government-funded farmer support programmes under the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, implementation of land reform and status of cooperatives.

 

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform should jointly present to Parliament detailed frameworks on their respective roles in assisting resource poor farmers and land reform beneficiaries; promoting rural development and agrarian reform; ensuring the country’s food security; as well as the role of the extension service in fulfilling this mandate.

 

The KZN provincial Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development must do an investigation into what took place at the Phezukomkhono Cooperative farm and provide a comprehensive audit report to Parliament and the provincial Standing Committee.

 

The national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries should provide the Portfolio Committee with a detailed status report on all projects (countrywide) and cooperatives that have collapsed and those in the state of near collapse.

 

 

28 – 29 March 2010

 

ARC Animal Production Institute, Land Bank and Grain SA in Pretoria, Gauteng

 

To conduct a site visit of the ARC’s research facilities and to witness the challenges that have been highlighted by the ARC during its budget briefing; and to engage the Land Bank and Grain SA on challenges facing developing famers.

 

A funding increase for the ARC as the principal agricultural research institution in the country.

 

The Department work collaboratively with commodity groups such as Grain SA to manage international agreements on imports and exports. Integration of funding instruments for farmer support.

 

The Land Bank to further brief the Committee on the finalisation of the fraud cases against former officials of the Bank and assistance given to land reform beneficiaries.

 

10 September 2010

 

Laingville Community, Oceana Group and Sea Harvest, West Coast, Western Cape

 

To respond to an invite from Laingville fishing community and to determine how allocated fishing rights were benefiting the community

 

 

The Committee recommended that the community, through their representatives and the Mayor’s office, must send the Committee a written memorandum with all their challenges; and the Committee will engage the Department on the issues and report back to the community in November 2010.

 

The Department must look into alternative livelihood strategies for the community members who did not receive fishing permits and those that lost jobs in the fishing sector.

 

23 – 27 January 2012

 

Jozini, Ingwavuma District, KwaZulu-Natal

 

 

To oversee government interventions and the state of border fencing for the control and prevention of animal movements, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) surveillance measures, other border control activities, as well as agricultural projects in the area.

 

The Department should submit to Parliament a progress report on the FMD control measures in northern KwaZulu-Natal including the activities of the Border Control Operational and Coordinating Committee (BCOCC) in addressing challenges associated with border fences on the South Africa-Mozambique border.

 

The Department must liaise with the Department of Water Affairs regarding water licensing for developing farmers and communities around Jozini Dam; and report back to the Committee.

 

The Department must submit to the Committee a Plan to revive the Cotton Ginnery at Makhathini Flats.

 

28 February – 04 March, 25 – 29 July and 02 – 05 August 2012

 

 

 

 

Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape Provinces.

Joint oversight visits with the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform to determine progress on land reform and to assess the implementation of CRDP pilot projects in the different provinces.

The Committees acknowledged that across all provinces, there was no intergovernmental relations and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) were not working collaboratively to assist land reform beneficiaries.

 

The DRDLR and the Commission for the Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR) must submit to Parliament detailed reports of restitution cases including their statuses for all the provinces visited to clarify the reported 95% of claims having been settled.

 

DAFF and DRDLR should hold discussions with the Land Bank to assist beneficiaries of the Land Reform for Agricultural Development (LRAD) programme that are struggling to repay their Land Bank loans.

 

DAFF and DRDLR should coordinate land reform and agricultural support programmes towards developing an integrated strategy for rural development.

 

The two Departments should be involved in the formulation of all agreements for strategic partnerships and equity schemes and must establish monitoring and evaluation (M & E) plans for these partnerships and all other land reform support programmes.

 

18-22 June 2012

 

 

North West (NW) Province

To oversee the work of the NW provincial Department of Agriculture in terms of the Agrarian Transformation pillar of the CRDP, conditional grants projects, other agricultural projects, irrigation schemes and agricultural training colleges or centres.

 

The Department must ensure that it coordinates land reform activities and beneficiary support with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

 

The Department must assist land reform beneficiaries who are making use of Taung Irrigation Scheme with marketing and other required skills.

 

The Department must liaise with the Departments of Rural Development and Land Reform and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to address the challenges at Willow Park Farm Workers Project in Zeerust; and report back to the Committee.

 

The Department must submit a report and brief the Committee on all strategic partnerships that involve land reform beneficiaries in the Province.

 

 

21 September 2012

South African Navy, Simon’s Town, Western Cape

To inspect the patrol and research vessels and assess the state of readiness for sailing the vessels.

The Department should assist the South African Navy in sourcing and training of personnel that is required for the research and patrol vessels to be operational. The Department should find an amicable way of dealing with the payment of outstanding monies owed to the South African Navy.

 

26 October 2012

 

 

Ncera Farms (Pty) Ltd in Kidds Beach, Eastern Cape

To engage with the new Management of the entity, land redistribution farmers and the communities surrounding the entity to gain first hand information regarding the challenges facing the entity.

The Department to fast track the drafting of a Turnaround Strategy for Ncera Farms (Pty) Ltd and the Strategy should include a monitoring, reporting and evaluation framework for all the funds that have been transferred by the Department to the entity.

The Department should give a detailed report to the Committee on what informed the funding increase to the entity that has no Board and was running at a loss.

Submit to Parliament the Forensic Audit Report on Ncera Farms (Pty) Ltd and the report on the state of the 10 leased farms (land redistribution) and how these were allocated to farmers.

27 November 2012

 

Ncera Farms (Pty) Ltd, Eastern Cape

Follow-up visit - having not received responses on issues raised during previous briefings and the previous oversight visit including a reviewed Turnaround Strategy, the Committee resolved not to consider the Annual Report of the entity but to undertake a follow-up visit to Ncera.

 

The Department must investigate and submit a report to the Committee on the best path to follow in ensuring that all the different stakeholders in the area of Ncera benefit from the operations of the entity and the ongoing conflict among stakeholders is resolved.

 

29 July – 02 August 2013

 

 

Free State Province

To oversee progress in the implementation of the Mechanisation Programme and development of infrastructure (fences, farm buildings, roads, irrigation schemes, etc.) including availability of marketing infrastructure.

 

The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (the Minister) speed up the process of signing the agreement between the Chinese and South African Governments on the Xhariep Dam Aquaculture.

 

The Minister must facilitate intergovernmental relations to avoid conflicting or overlapping projects among the different spheres of government.

 

The Department must give an update on a draft M & E plan for conditional grants and a national M & E policy for mechanisation as different provinces operated differently.

 

The Department must ensure that the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development prioritises capacity building and management training for all land reform and other project beneficiaries as lack of governance and accountability has been identified as a challenge.

 

The Department must monitor and evaluate shareholding, benefit sharing and beneficiary involvement in black economic empowerment (BEE) partnership projects on a quarterly basis.

 

15 November 2013

 

 

Ncera Farms (Pty) Ltd, Eastern Cape

 

 

 

 

 

 

To report back to the stakeholders (management of the entity, farmers and surrounding communities) on the outcomes of the Committee engagements with the Department and the proposed future plans for Ncera Farms (Pty) Ltd, the entity.

 

The Department and the DRDLR should hold consultation meetings or workshops with all affected stakeholders to further explain the proposed operational plan for the future of the entity and the land reform farmers by the end of December 2013.

03 – 06 February 2013

 

 

ARC and OBP in Pretoria, Gauteng

To oversee progress on the development of the FMD Facility at the ARC; the vaccine manufacturing facilities at OBP including recent upgrades; and collaborative activities between the two entities.

 

The Department must motivate for increased funding specifically for infrastructure development and modernisation for both the ARC and OBP as they currently operate with outdated infrastructure and equipment.

 

Infrastructure funds will be especially needed to equip the ARC’s new FMD Facility, whose construction is expected to be completed by July 2014, and also for equipping and modernising the OBP’s Biotechnology Laboratory and vaccine manufacturing facilities.

 

The Department must motivate for the OBP, as a Government National Key Point that also manufactures orphan vaccines for the country, to receive a standing grant to ensure that its facilities are upgraded to improve the capacity for the entity to meet vaccine demands not just in the country but in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.1 CHALLENGES ENCOUNTERED DURING COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT VISITS

 

· Absence of provincial senior officials and Accounting Officers to brief the Committee and address Members’ questions has been a consistent challenge during Committee oversight visits. The Free State and North West Province have been the only provinces where provincial Heads of Departments (HODs) accompanied Members on their project visits.

 

· Unavailability of senior officials from one of the departments, either Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries or Rural Development and Land Reform during joint oversights or when one of the two Committees that oversee the work of the respective Departments is undertaking the oversight. This has been the case even where Agriculture and Rural Development are within the same Department in a province.

 

 

8. OBLIGATIONS CONFERRED ON COMMITTEE BY LEGISLATION

 

· Section 5(1) of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, 2009 (Act No. 9 of 2009) mandates and sets out the process that allows Parliament’s National Assembly, through its Committees, to make recommendations to the Minister of Finance to amend the budget of a national department. As obligated by Act No. 9 of 2009, in October each year, the Committee must submit a Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries regarding the activities and budget of the Department and the entities that fall under its oversight responsibilities.

 

· The Committee is also obligated by different pieces of legislation that govern the Department’s entities to participate in the nomination of candidates to serve in the entities’ Boards of Directors. The following are the applicable pieces of legislation:

 

o The Marketing of Agricultural Products Acts, 1996 (Act No. 47 of 1996 ) requires that Chairpersons of parliamentary Committees or their delegates be part of the Selection Committee that is established by the Minister for the appointment of the NAMC’s Council/Board members. Section 4 of the Act also requires that a shortlist of nominated candidates be sent to the parliamentary Committees for consideration; and for the Committees to jointly recommend not less than three candidates for each of the categories of the Council/Board membership.

 

o The Agricultural Research Act, 1990 (Act No. 86 of 1990) requires the Minister to invite parliamentary Committees to submit to the Minister for consideration, names of persons who comply with the criteria referred to Section 9: (2)(a), (4) and (5) of the Act.

 

o The Onderstepoort Biological Products Incorporation Act, 1999 (Act No. 19 of 1999) requires that a Chairperson of a parliamentary Committee on Agriculture be part of the Selection Committee that will be established by the Minister for the appointment of candidates that will serve in the Board of the OBP.

 

o The Land and Agricultural Development Bank Act, 2002 (Act No. 15 of 2002) requires the Minister to invite relevant parliamentary Committees to submit to the Minister for consideration, names of persons who are not disqualified in terms of Section 10 of the Act, to serve on the Board of the Land Bank.

 

8.1 Statutory Appointments

 

The following appointment processes were referred to the Committee and the resultant statutory appointments were made:

 

Date

Type of appointment

Period of appointment

Status of Report

 

15 September 2009

 

List of potential candidates to serve on the Board of the Land Bank

 

 

3 years

 

Adopted

20 April 2010

List of potential candidates to serve on the Board of the ARC

 

3 years

Adopted

21 April 2010

List of potential candidates to serve on the Board of the PPECB

 

5 years

Adopted

20 April 2011

List of potential candidates to serve on the Board of the NAMC

 

4 years

Adopted

20 April 2011

List of potential candidates to serve on the Board of the Land Bank

 

1 year

Adopted

16 August 2012

List of potential candidates to serve on the Board of the NAMC

 

3 years

Adopted

11 October 2012

List of potential candidates to serve on the Board of the Land Bank

 

3 years

Adopted

6 February 2013

List of potential candidates to serve on the Board of the ARC

 

3 years

Adopted

1 October 2013

List of potential candidates to serve on the Board of the NAMC

2 years

Adopted

 

 

 

9. COMMITTEE ACHIEVEMENTS DURING THE FOURTH PARLIAMENT

 

During the Fourth Parliament, the Committee managed, through its oversight responsibilities over the work of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to enforce intergovernmental relations and for the Department to address the following:

 

· Food Safety - the persistence of the Committee, jointly with the Portfolio Committees on Health and Trade and Industry, in pursuing collaborative efforts on addressing food safety and the fragmented nature of food control authorities in the country resulted in the establishment of the Inter-departmental Food Safety Coordinating Committee (IDFSCC), which constitutes DAFF, DoH, the dti and NRCS. The IDFSCC is working on the establishment of a Food Safety Agency for the country.

 

· Additional funding for ARC and OBP - as a result of the Committee consistently raising the need for additional funding for the ARC and OBP, particularly in its budgetary and BRR recommendations, for the 2012/13 medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) period, commencing from 2013 /14 to 2015/16, the National Treasury allocated R492.4 million to the OBP for the upgrading and modernisation of vaccine production facilities. An additional R220 million was allocated to the ARC for the establishment of an FMD Facility that will manufacture the FMD vaccine, which is currently imported from Botswana.

 

· Mechanisation Policy – Members of the Committee quoted cases from their constituencies and strongly raised concerns regarding the manner in which mechanisation equipment particularly tractors, was haphazardly distributed and used in different provinces. In addition, the Department, which disburses the funds and sometimes the tractors to provinces, did not have a monitoring mechanism on how the equipment was used and whether it is going to the relevant people. The Committee recommended that the Department must develop a National Policy on Mechanisation with a monitoring plan to ensure uniformity and accountability across all provinces on the distribution, use and maintenance of mechanisation equipment. The Department has since developed a Draft Mechanisation Policy that was to be submitted to the Ministerial Technical Committee (MINTECH) on 27 February 2014.

 

· Monitoring and Evaluation (M & E) – the Committee recognised that most of the Department’s funding is transferred to provinces to implement certain programmes relating to service delivery yet, the Department in 2009 did not have an integrated M & E system to ensure fruitful expenditure of such funds. During its restructuring following the amalgamation of Forestry and Fisheries into Agriculture, the Department subsequently established an M & E directorate with dedicated personnel. However, the Committee was raised concerns regarding the absence of a plan that guides how the M & E personnel oversee conditional grants in particular. The Committee recommended that an M & E plan for conditional grants be developed. The Department has since developed a Draft M & E Plan for CASP which will further be developed into a Plan for all conditional grants.

 

· Labour Permits for Wool Shearers - the National Wool Growers Association (NWGA) briefed the Committee on the challenges that they were experiencing in terms of cooperation from the different Departments that are responsible for processing working permits and other immigration documentation for wool shearers from Lesotho during the wool shearing season. The NWGA reported that they had to employ wool shearers from Lesotho because the skill is scarce in South Africa, and also indicated that although there are a few professional shearers in South Africa, most local people are not interested in the profession. The Committee recommended that the Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Labour and Home Affairs should engage the NWGA to discuss the challenges that are faced by the wool industry and how these can be solved amicably within the relevant laws and policies of the country. It was further suggested that a Steering Committee that constitute all the relevant stakeholders should be established.

 

· Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) – CAADP is the programme of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) that was launched in 2002 to accelerate long term agricultural development and growth among African countries and to address inequities in access to land, its resources and insecurity of tenure. While prioritising agriculture-led growth on the continent, CAADP also recognises that the agricultural sector growth rate in African countries does not always follow growth in the agricultural share of the national budgets. It is in this regard that the African Union (AU) meeting that was held in Maputo in 2003 led to the signing of the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security to realise the objectives of CAADP by the AU member states. Through the Maputo Declaration, all African governments agreed to increase public investment in the agricultural sector to a minimum of 10% of their national budgets and to increase agricultural productivity by at least 6% by 2008. Although South Africa is a signatory to the Maputo Declaration and houses the NEPAD Secretariat, the Department did not follow-up on the Declaration nor implemented CAADP in particular, until the Committee engaged the Department on CAADP and consistently raised the matter during briefings. Eventually, the Department actively launched the CAADP process in October 2011 with assistance from the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency) and the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The Department reported in November 2013 that the CAADP Compact for the country was ready to be signed, but during February 2014 they reported that they had just completed consultations with provinces on the CAADP Compact.

 

 

10. SECTORAL CHALLENGES EXPERIENCED BY THE COMMITTEE IN EXECUTING

ITS OVERSIGHT ROLE

 

10.1 The Department

 

· Inability of the Department to fill vacancies at senior management service (SMS) level impacted accountability, particularly the position of the Director-General, who is the Accounting Officer for the Department. Lack of continuity and various briefings that were made by different acting personnel hindered the Committee’s ability to successfully follow-up and decisively finalise matters that were consistently raised in Committee meetings, oversight visits and reports. Additionally, in some cases, the Department sent junior officials who cannot take decisions to make presentations to the Committee.

 

· The numerous and complex challenges and urgent matters that the Committee had to address in Agriculture and Fisheries resulted in the Committee paying minimal attention to the Forestry sector. Another challenge may be the fact that the Committee does not have a Forestry content/research specialist in its support team, who can consistently flag out issues in the sector.

 

· Although Fisheries is now a Branch of the Department like Forestry, after five years, it still operates as a separate entity, with its operations funded under the Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF) and its administration has not been fully integrated into the Department. The Branch still has its own human resources, legal services, finance and communication personnel. and the As previously stated previously, and with the exception of a few months in 2013, the Fisheries Branch has been operating under acting Deputy Director-Generals (DDGs) since its transfer to the Department. The Committee experienced challenges getting commitments and answers to some of their queries regarding the administration and management of both the Branch and the MLRF, and the Branch’s full integration into the Department.

 

10.2 The Entities

 

· The challenges regarding the administration and management of the MLRF are related to its role in the operations of the Fisheries Branch as previously stated.

 

· Previous failure of the Department to enforce intergovernmental relations on research activities between the ARC’s Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute (OVI) and the OBP to ensure maximum benefits from the resources that each entity have including facilities and personnel. However, the two entities are currently working collaboratively on research activities through the Tshwane Animal Health Cluster, which was established and is funded by the Department of Science and Technology’s Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).

 

· Ncera Farms (Pty) Ltd was not established through an Act of Parliament and has since 2009 been operating without a Board of Directors but a Department’s Director or Chief Director acting as a “caretaker”. The Committee has since 2010 been consistently sending back the entity because it has not submitted a proper Strategic Plan or an Annual Performance Plan as required by the National Treasury or the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). Additionally, despite the Committee not having approved the entity’s “Strategic Plan”, which never submitted an APP, the Department continued to allocate funding to the entity. The entity also failed to submit a well-prepared Turn-around Strategy as was recommended by the Committee. The Committee during its 2013/14 Budget Report recommended that the entity, which has been running at a loss for the past 7 years and not fulfilling its primary function and intended purpose, should be closed down. In addition, there were long-standing conflicts among stakeholders involving the land reform farmers and the farm dwellers that have never been addressed by the Department.

 

 

11. SUMMARY OF OUTSTANDING ISSUES FOR FOLLOW-UP

 

The following key issues are outstanding from the Committee’s activities during the Fourth Parliament:

 

Responsibility

Issue(s)

Minister

 

o A dedicated financial grant for OBP, which is a National Key Point that is solely responsible for the manufacturing of animal vaccines (except the FMD vaccine).

o Substantial funding increase for the ARC, which is losing research expertise at an alarming rate due to competition with the private sector and most senior research personnel going on retirement.

o Prioritise the review of all old pieces of legislation that negatively impact the development and transformation of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sectors.

o Status of the Forensic Investigation Report on Fisheries Branch.

o Responses to the Committee recommendations on the 2013 BRR Report – the Department has not responded to some of the recommendations.

o Final decision regarding the future of Ncera Farms (Pty) Ltd.

o Implementation of the 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security where African governments agreed to increase public investment in the agricultural sector to a minimum of 10% of their national budgets and to increase agricultural productivity by at least 6% by 2008.

 

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

 

o The alignment and review of policies and programmes across all three sectors, for example, conditional grants and food security programmes are focused on Agriculture and to some extent, Forestry (LandCare) but not Fisheries.

o An integrated Monitoring and Evaluation Plan, with an implementation plan, for conditional grants that are transferred by the Department to provinces (CASP, Illima/letsema and LandCare).

o Finalisation of an integrated Mechanisation Policy that includes all three sectors to monitor the mechanisation programme to ensure consistency and accountability in provinces.

o Finalisation of the National Policy on Extension and Advisory Services. Poor and lack of extension support has been cited as one of the central challenges in the development of farmers.

o Filling of vacancies, particularly at senior level, with competent and suitably qualified personnel.

o Signing of the country’s Compact for the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and its implementation thereof.

o Up-to-date Asset Registers for the Department and all its entities.

o Implementation Plan for the Small-scale Fisheries Policy.

o Progress on the Aquaculture Programme that is being implemented throughout the country in partnership with the dti’s Aquaculture Development and Enhancement Programme (ADEP) including a detailed l ist of aquaculture and fisheries projects that are funded by the Department.

o Progress on research that has been carried out on establishing new fisheries (inland and marine) and aquaculture development zones.

o Policy and implementation plan for the establishment of backyard aquaculture fish ponds.

o Outcome of the Department’s skills audit.

o Transformation in the three sectors – the Fifth Parliament must receive regular updates including the review and evaluation of the role that has been played by the AgriBEE Fund and other transformation tools.

Detailed briefing of the Committee on all agricultural diseases of economic importance and status reports on control measures for diseases that have previously resulted in the ban of country exports.

 

 

12. RECOMMENDATIONS AND KEY AREAS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE FIFTH

PARLIAMENT

 

· The Fifth Parliament needs to pay particular attention to the development of a long-term (at least 15-20 years) integrated Sector Plan that encompasses all three sectors and the Department’s vision and mission. The Department is currently developing a five-year Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) that is guided by the National Development Plan (NDP)’s 2030 Vision Statement and the New Growth Path. However, agriculture, forestry and fisheries are natural resource-based sectors and a minimum of five years in agriculture and more in forestry and fisheries is required to realise tangible results of any policy or programme implementation. Notwithstanding the 5-year APAP that is currently going through the Cabinet process, there is a need for a long-term Sector Plan that will ensure the development and growth of the sector and which must also be aligned with the UN’s post-2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals.

 

· The Department fell short of fully integrating agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors through policies and/or programmes and has also been very weak in the implementation and review of existing policies. In certain instances, the Department relied on consultants to develop new policies with no implementation plans, e.g. the Small-scale Fisheries Policy. The Fifth Parliament needs to ensure that the Department reviews existing policies, evaluate their implementation, determine whether they are still applicable to current challenges and ensure that each newly developed policy is accompanied by an implementation plan.

 

· For the 2013/14 MTEF period ending in 2017/18, the Department undertook to develop and implement the following specific policies to address challenges in the three sectors, which the Fifth Parliament must take into consideration:

 

o The Strategic Plan for Smallholder Producers, which is a working draft document that seeks to improve support to smallholder producers by consolidating developmental functions such as extension, cooperatives development, marketing, mechanisation, financial services and spatial planning to improve support to smallholder producers. The Plan has not yet been presented to Parliament.

 

o The Agro-processing Strategic Framework for the period 2012-2016, is referred to by The Department as an initiative to ensure the contribution of agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors to job creation and related government priority targets. The Strategic Framework was also never presented to Parliament and the Department has not reported on its implementation.

 

o Spatial Analysis of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was initiated in 2012 to identify high impact intervention areas at a national, provincial and local level; and to further guide the implementation of the now defunct Zero Hunger Programme and the Strategic Plan for Smallholder Producers. The Spatial Analysis, which was said to be developed in partnership with the DRDLR, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has since not been mentioned in the revised 2013 Strategic Plan of the Department and no explanation or update was given on its status.

 

o Strategic Infrastructure Project 11 (SIP 11) that is aimed at improving investment in infrastructure to support agricultural, forestry and fisheries production (including aquaculture). Infrastructure development is one of the key development areas for the medium term, it is therefore, not acceptable for the Department not to prioritise SIP 11 given the need for agro-processing and irrigation infrastructure to realise some of the Government Outcomes.

 

o Finalisation of the development of a Strategy on urban and peri-urban agriculture , whose purpose will be to promote best practices, enhance the role of agriculture in urban and peri-urban livelihoods and improve coordination and cooperation among role players. Increased rural-to-urban migration in search of economic opportunities and increasing unemployment throughout the country including in urban areas, has seen an increase in urban poverty and food insecurity, which used to be confined to rural areas. Until recently, urban and peri-urban agriculture did not receive adequate attention in South Africa (from both government and the private sector) despite the potential for increasing livelihood and greening options.

 

o Policy and programme on inland fisheries with the focus on developing economic opportunities around existing storage dams and rivers.

 

· Committee Members in the Fourth Parliament have consistently raised concerns regarding shortage of skills in the Department and the fact that the inability to fill certain vacancies was also linked to the scarcity of certain skills in the country. In this regard, the Fifth Parliament must get a briefing on the Department’s collaborative efforts with academic institutions and its involvement in curriculum determination to address specific skills shortages, besides provision of bursaries. The Department needs to brief the Fifth Parliament on the distinct role that the different academic institutions i.e. universities, universities of technology, agricultural colleges, Further Education and Training (FET) colleges and Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) in addressing the required skills in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

 

· The Fifth Parliament must ensure that the Department develops a policy instrument to ensure the replacement of the fragmented technical and financial support to developing farmers for a comprehensive One-stop-shop Facility that also includes Forestry and Fisheries sectors. The one-stop-shop Facility must be able to provide training and capacity building, extension and other technical support, different forms of mechanisation, and must meet funding requirements for the different categories of producers/entrepreneurs across all three sectors.

 

· The Fifth Parliament must promote and enforce intergovernmental relations for the implementation of land reform and in addressing food self-sufficiency in the country. While certain policies may be specific to agriculture, forestry and fisheries, in terms of food security, there is always a necessity for coordination and collaborations with other departments as the three sectors are also influenced to a large extent, by environmental, economic, social (e.g. poverty) and cultural factors. For this reason, intergovernmental relations (IGR) and public-private partnerships cannot be stressed enough. The Fifth Parliament needs to be briefed on the new Food Security and Nutrition Policy that was adopted in September 2013 to ensure that IGR principles are applied in its implementation. Besides food security or the agricultural sector, some of the challenges in forestry are also associated to lack of IGR, where plantation owners including land reform beneficiaries struggle to get water licences.

 

· As previously indicated lack of IGR is the biggest challenge in land reform and impedes progress in certain areas. However, some of the issues that need particular attention is the mentorship and strategic partnership programmes of the Department and the DRDLR. During oversight visits, in most projects, these programmes were found to be benefitting previous owners instead of developing land reform beneficiaries, and departments spent large sums of money on these programmes.

 

· The Fourth Parliament held discussions with government departments and the biotechnology industry and also considered a petition from a civil society organisation on genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). Given the contentious nature and the different views that have been presented on the subject matter, the Committee recommended that the Fifth Parliament should consider holding extensive public hearings on GMOs including the implementation and application of legislation that regulates GMOs.

 

· The Fifth Parliament must be briefed on Game Farming as well as Game and Livestock Auctioneering Businesses including policies and/or legislation that regulate these industries.

 

· The Fifth Parliament must ensure that the Department fills critical and senior management vacancies as a matter of urgency and also addresses the challenges that are associated with filling of vacancies, e.g. lack of certain skills in the country and the protracted vetting process.

 

· The Fifth Parliament must engage the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Finance to ensure that a mechanism is put in place that will enable the Committee to conduct oversight on Land Bank as their day-to-day activities impact on agriculture.

 

· The Fifth Parliament must also ensure that the Department collaborates with the Department of Labour to establish a Fisheries sector fund that is similar to the Road Accident Fund for people who work and get injured at sea.

 

 

 

 

 

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