ATC210512: Report of the Select Committee on Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy on the Budget Vote and Annual Performance Plan 2021/22 of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development – Budget Vote No 28, dated 11 May 2021
Report of the Select Committee on Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy on the Budget Vote and Annual Performance Plan 2021/22 of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development – Budget Vote No 28, dated 11 May 2021.
The Select Committee on Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy having considered Budget Vote: 28 and Annual Performance Plan 2021/2022 of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development, reports that the that the committee met with the department on 6 May 2021, where the department briefed the committee on the matter of its APP and Budget.
The committee appreciated the inputs from the Minister and respective DG’s related to the current APP, challenges with budget allocation and performing key responsibilities under Covid-19 restrictions and with a reduced budget. The committee, in its deliberations, focused on matters on interest to provinces, which include land reform and post settlement farmer support, the revitalisation of fresh produce markets and other forms of market access for small scale farmers, the department’s response to climate change and actions taken to support farmers to cope with climate challenges, and continued challenges observed in terms of agriculture support infrastructure developed with conditional grant funding.
Issues for consideration pertaining to the department’s Annual Performance Plan
- In the Annual Performance Plan, the Department indicates that it plans to achieve unqualified audit outcomes and 100 per cent compliance with government legislation and prescripts. It would be of interest for the Committee to establish what control measures will be put in place to aid in the achievement of these targets.
- The Department proposes introducing/registering 100 new plant varieties in this financial year. Some of these plant varieties address issues affecting crops, such as resistance to pests, weeds, and drought conditions. The Committee may need to establish if these varieties are matched to the production challenges for specific locations (will there be more productivity in different climates and amount of water available) and farming communities (i.e. level of mechanisation required, labour and technical expertise).
- The proposed two animal improvement schemes, namely Kaonofatso ya Dikgomo (KyD) and Poultry are welcomed, as they would benefit both smallholder and commercial farming sectors. The committee wishes that the Department ensures that these schemes become competitive in the local and global markets.
- The implementation of the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Plan and smallholder producers capacitated on the Crop Suitability to Climate Change Programme are welcomed. This will contribute towards assisting farmers by improving and sustaining their production and livelihoods that are projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report to be highly impacted by Climate Change as early as the year 2038. It will be of importance for the Committee to establish which of the four Provinces are earmarked for the Piloting of the Crop Suitability to Climate Change Programme, the reason being that they must be representative of the Country Biophysical (climate, soil profiles, major commodities) and Socio-economic conditions in order to provide a better picture to inform the national roll-out.
Issues for consideration pertaining to the department’s Budget
- The Department’s reprioritisation in terms of allocating more resources to service delivery programmes (i.e. Programme 2 to 5) and less on the Administrative programme should be commended. This contributes to efforts towards economic recovery and for empowering participation of the sector towards regional economic programmes such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
- The Departments plans to provide the much needed post-settlement support and farmer training over the medium term, through the recruitment of 10 000 extension officers as stated in the Minister of Finance’s budget speech and the Departmental APP, is appreciated. The committee wishes to express its concern, however, that the department has been allocating funds for its extension programme’s improvement for a considerable period of time. In the current financial climate, it is vital that service delivery improvement programmes yield effective results in order to ensure that the limited financial resources available to the department for vital farmer support services is used optimally.
- The prioritised revitalising of infrastructure and providing equitable access to critical factors of production such as land, water and technology will improve the challenges facing farmers under the settlement support/, and thus contribute towards improved productivity and potential expansion in production. As with the extension recovery plan, the department has allocated significant resources to farm revitalisation in the past financial years. This activity reduces the budget available for land reform transactions, impacting on the pace of land reform. The Department is urged to improve its operational model for both farm settlements and post settlement support in order to ensure that beneficiaries of land reform are able to reach self-sustainability in the shortest possible period of time.
- The planned finalisation of the 1 409 restitution claims will redress the overdue land claims.
The Select Committee on Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy having considered Budget Vote: 28 and Annual Performance Plan 2021/2022 of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development, reports that the Committee has concluded its deliberations thereon.
Report to be considered
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