Agriculture and Agro Processing Master Plan: with Ministry

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

07 June 2022
Chairperson: Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) presented the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan (AAMP). The Master Plan is a social compact and the first strategic plan to have commodity specific transformation targets, jobs, exports, investments and growth rates. It focuses on commercial, land reform in rural areas to increase food production, and on farmers’ infrastructure. The NAMC presented the Master Plan’s focus and interventions, the stakeholders consulted, commitments made by social partners, and the monitoring and evaluation plan of the Master Plan.

The Master Plan was welcomed by the Committee. Committee members asked from where the funding for the plan will come when the plan will be implemented, will this plan be followed through as other plans were not; if more stakeholders should have been consulted, especially women and youth, and why there was only consultation towards the end of the Master Plan's development.

The Department assured the Committee that an implementation plan will be made that will flesh out the technical implementation. Funding will be sourced and this will be detailed when they meet to present the implementation plan. The Committee was assured that more women and youth in agriculture will be consulted. The Minister and Deputy Minister were present and both welcomed the progress and work done on the Master Plan. They assured the Committee that the concerns raised will be addressed.

A Committee Member was not satisfied with the manner in which the Department tends to respond to the Committee’s questions. The Chairperson noted this and will organise a session for this concern to be addressed.

Meeting report

Agriculture and Agro Processing Master Plan
Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha stated that he is excited by all sectors being in full support of the Master Plan during the signing ceremony. Organized labour was not ready to sign on the day but they indicated in person that they were in support of the Master Plan and the process of developing it, they just required clarity on a few matters. He handed over to the DALRRD Director-General to introduce the presentation.

Mr Ramasodi Mooketsa, DALRRD Director-General, said that the Department is excited by the Master Plan which was done in conjunction with labour, business and civil society. A lot of the research was done by the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC). He introduced the delegation and handed over to the NAMC Chairperson to make some introductory remarks.

Mr Angelo Peterson, NAMC Chairperson, stated that the NAMC was responsible for coordinating the Master Plan on behalf of the Department. The plan was difficult to coordinate as it was often difficult to get all stakeholders to the table. The Master Plan remains a work a progress but the stakeholders have committed to a compact to work towards the goals of the Master Plan and to have one Master Plan as opposed to having a number of them. A plan will remain a plan until it is implemented. He handed over to the NAMC CEO.

Dr Simphiwe Ngqangweni, NAMC CEO, outlined the topics and format of the presentation and handed over to Dr Ntombela to deliver the presentation.

Dr Sifiso Ntombela, NAMC Senior Economist, stated that the Master Plans were announced by the President during his State of the Nation Address in 2020. The government was now gearing up its Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan to rebuild the country’s economy after COVID-19. Seven sectors were prioritized and the agriculture sector was one of them. The stakeholders of the Master Plan want to reposition the agriculture sector as a globally competitive sector.

The Master Plan’s focuses and interventions include:
1. Resolving policy ambiguities.
2. Ensuring food security, expanded production and employment creation.
3. Developing localized food, import replacement and expanded agro-processing.

Engagements were made with different industries and associations. What was difficult and took long was the integration of the stakeholder submissions in a manner that can be co-owned and is reflective of all the interests and vision of the different social partners. The stakeholders and social partners consulted in the development of the Master Plan include:
1. All nine provinces, wherein different key players who play a key role in agriculture were part of workshops. Traditional leaders, women, and youth were part of engagement process.
2. CottonSA, GrainSA, the South African Grain Farmers Association, Grain Farmer Development Association, and the South African Sugar Associations.
3. The South African Pork Producers Organization, South African Poultry Producers Association, National Emergent Red Meat Producers, Red Meat Industry Forum, and Mohair.
4. Civil Society, Labour and Business Social partner engagements.

The plan being a social compact requires commitments by different social partners. The commitments made by social partners include:
1. Enhancing state capacity, strengthening partnerships with the private sector to boost competitiveness, transformation, farmer support, research development, biosecurity control, technology, and export access to markets. Groundwork has already started in some areas.
2. Raising R9.4 billion for targeted infrastructure maintenance and expansion of irrigation, fresh produce markets, dipping tanks, storage, and others. This is going to be financed by looking at different offers in the state and also bringing in international funders. This is the reason DALRRD and the industries have looked at the farmer producer support units across the country and brought in continental financers to relook at the model and see how it can attract investors so DALRRD can deal with resource allocation.
3. Unlocking R7 billion per annum in agricultural financing for small, medium scale and large scale farmers. He can confirm that there is work where all the four biggest commercial banks in the country are working on the modalities on ensuring how the design the application processes of this funding instrument are talking to the realities of these different farmers and agro-processors.
4. Achieving R32 billion real growth above the Business-As-Usual baseline. This will maintain jobs and create new sustainable jobs.
5. Enhancing food security and support 303 000 livelihoods.
6. Increasing black farmer share in overall production to a minimum of 20% by 2030 to stimulate meaningful transformation. Social partners felt this aggregate figure is a plausible goal to chase.

Ms M Tlhape (ANC) welcomed the presentation. She found comfort in there being one master plan that speaks to all concerns instead of multiple pieces of a master plan. She prays that the master plan gets implemented especially because the plan has monitoring, training and evaluation in it. How is DALRRD going to ensure that the plan stands seeing that it is a social compact? What does it want to achieve by calling it a social compact? What are the labour issues on which they could not find consensus? How soon does DALRRD think that it will resolve these? Women and youth do not appear sufficiently in the plan. Why are they left out in this one? When and how are they going to implement the plan? Are the provinces on board with the plan? How does DALRRD intend to fund this plan? Is it linked to provincial transfers or does it have its own plan on how it is going to be implemented?

Ms A Steyn (DA) pointed out that the Committee is coming in at the tail-end of the process. She wanted to know from the Deputy Minister or the Director-General what the Master Plan link is to the Phakisa plan that it worked on for many years? Are any of the parts and processes of the Phakisa plan being carried through to this Master Plan or is it throwing it out and starting with a new plan? It is great that the master plan addresses infrastructure. However, she would like more details on the implementation of the plan. What is the proposed budget for each aspect of the plan? Who is going to ensure that the links between departments will happen?

From where is the R7 billion per annum funding going to come? If the money is going to be moved from the Department programmes so which will be used to get the money? To what extent does the master plan discuss climate change? The work happening in countries that have a similar climate type is not being done here in South Africa. The Department is not putting enough focus on new innovations that agriculture can use. She noted new innovations readily available during the Committee’s previous oversight visit; however, these innovations are not being used. She highlighted the Stellenbosch University study that found that one out of five farmers said they are moving out of agriculture in the next five years due to a variety of issues. Was that study discussed during the master plan finalization?

Mr N Capa (ANC) stated that he does not have a comment at the moment.

Mr S Matiase (EFF) remarked about the master plan producing a social compact that a social compact is not a new concept and has become a buzzword. The master plan will remain a plan on paper as long as it does not address the real issues people are facing on the ground. There have been a plethora of master plans across various sectors in the department of agriculture. The key challenge is transforming this master plan into a concrete document that will respond to the challenges faced by people on the ground. Although various stakeholders have committed to the plan, the plan will remain pie in the sky until it has been implemented.

The Department needs to present a concrete funding model to the Committee and find financing institutions to commit real money to the plan. He also requested a demonstrable programme that speaks to the challenges on the ground. There are many constraints that impede marginalized people from accessing markets, credit, land, and knowledge about agriculture. It is too early to celebrate the master plan until it addresses these constraints. The Department must come back and tell the Committee what the funding model is and the source of the R9.4 billion and R7 billion.

Mr Matiase commented on the Stellenbosch University research noted by Ms Steyn. It is a hard truth that where you find one individual having multiple farms, one cannot manage all of them. They have to let go of some of these farms. Letting go of farms must be welcomed. No one man and his family should own many farms. The land must be equitably redistributed and those who cannot manage the farms because they are many, should surrender the farms to the state so it can redistribute them equitably without compensation.

Ms N Mahlo (ANC) welcomed the master plan. She would like the plan to address small and emerging black farmers' access to markets, especially those in rural areas. Addressing market access for producers would make the Committee happy as those producers in rural areas can create more jobs for people in South Africa and it will tackle unemployment. She realized that the master plan will link with other plans and policies meant to stimulate agricultural activities.

The presentation stated that the implementation of this master plan will be guided by certain pillars. One of those pillars will be solving policy ambiguities and overlapping policies. The point about developing localised food, import replacement, and expanding agro-processing touched her heart. Fulfilling this would make her happy. Employment creation should be looked at when the department comes up with an implementation plan. The targets must clearly outline how they are going to implement the plan in different areas such as communal areas. There is plenty of land in communal areas; however, there is nothing that we see that can assist traditional leaders in communal land areas to participate. The participation of youth and women would be important in the master plan implementation. She supported Ms Tlhape’s statements.

Mr N Masipa (DA) agreed with Ms Steyn that the Committee is coming in at the tail-end of the process. However, this does not prevent the Committee from doing its oversight work. The plan's ability will be shown when implemented. The plan looks good on paper. He raised concern about an article stating that top farmers are leaving agriculture due to policy uncertainty. He asked when the implementation of the plan will take place. On the R9.4 billion allocated for infrastructure, he asked if the master plan received approval from Cabinet? Are all departments aligned about the execution of the R9.4 billion? Lack of alignment between departments will lead to the master plan becoming yet another unachieved plan.

What is the 'reprioritisation' being talked about and how is it going to affect the plans of the Department? What is the status of the challenges that the Master Plan seeks to address and how does this link with current plans? How is the Department of Trade and Industry’s agro-processing programme going to be incorporated into the implementation of the master plan to avoid duplication, seeing that DTI is listed as a partner in the Master Plan?

The current Ukraine-Russia war is a pressing worry; the master plan has to live up to the realities we are living in now. She referred to the European Union Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed that made a decision to bring in new additional measures to control moth on oranges that are imported from South Africa. This is going to limit the targets published in the master plan. What are the plans to ensure South Africa finds an alternative market to address this? She spoke about the insecurity of land in rural areas. If the Department does not address property rights insecurity in the rural parts of the country, it is not going to achieve much.

Ms T Breedt (FF+) disagreed with the Deputy Minister’s statement that the Committee and DALRRD are a team. If DALRRD was serious about the Portfolio Committee, they would have engaged with the Committee from the beginning and not include the Committee after the fact. She thanked Ms Steyn for mentioning Operation Phakisa and the rest of the master plans as there is a tendency for plans to be made and then subsequently thrown out to form a new plan. She feared that there are too many insecurities and hypothetical situations. She was of the view that the Master Plan is very theoretical, unrealistic, and feels rushed.

She asked why certain stakeholders were listened to in haste and why others were not listened to when comments and concerns were raised about the master plan? The presentation mentions a variety of stakeholders supported the master plan, yet the Master Plan has only the signatures of DTI and Agriculture, commercial agriculture and commodity chain representatives. There are no signatures from agro-processing value chains and labour partners whom the Deputy Minister indicated are ready to sign. The signature page does have space for civil society partners and smallholder producers that are expected to be beneficiaries of this master plan.

Why was there a rush to sign this master plan and launch it in May 2022 if there are still areas of difference between the social partners, as stated in the executive summary of the Master Plan, and with labour still not ready to sign the plan? What are the specific areas that are not yet concluded and need further analysis? What criteria were used to decide on the number of days for consultation in each province? Who was consulted in each province? How did it consult with non-unionised farm worker communities and small scale farmers who are not members of commodity associations? Were institutions with agriculture facilities and agricultural and land reform research institutions consulted during the development of the master plan?

The Master Plan uses the terms “black farmers”, “small scale farmers”, and “emerging farmers” without definition or differentiation between them and “subsistence farmers” is sometimes thrown into the mix. Can DALRRD give the Committee a breakdown of what they mean by these terms?

Given that there is a process to move agriculture colleges away from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), how will this impact skills training and development in the master plan going forward? How are we going to include agricultural colleges to assist with the master plan?

Is it wise to focus on cannabis as one of the first commodities prioritised in the master plan? Should we rather not focus on household food security, considering the recent droughts, floods and COVID-19?

Inkosi R Cebekhulu (IFP) welcomed the master plan. The plan sounds very good. However, as long as South African farmers are not subsidised, global competition will sink them. That will present consumers with a difficult task to be able to buy food. The main concern is, as long as we do not look into subsidising farmers, we will always import cast-offs from other countries as cheap food and those imports will not be good for consumers.  

The Chairperson stated that although the Master Plan includes traditional leaders as partners, there has been no mention of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Contralesa, and the National and Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders.

The Department should know that poverty and food insecurity have become prevalent in urban areas. One of the objectives of the Master Plan is to increase food security in South Africa, yet it misses the opportunity to promote urban agriculture in collaboration with municipalities.

In rural municipalities, there is a lot of land under the control of traditional leaders. What is the Master Plan’s envisioned impact on the OR Tambo district municipality as it has about 1.2 million hectares of land lying fallow? What interventions are going to be made? What yield is expected seeing that the Master Plan aims to activate at least 100 000 hectares of land in the OR Tambo district municipality? This will allow the Committee to measure the impact of the master plan.

The Chairperson referred to irrigation infrastructure. Millions of rands have already been invested in irrigation schemes such as the Makhathini Flats in KwaZulu-Natal and in other provinces. It would be prudent to assess the status of these schemes, what has been achieved to date, and the impact of previous investment on development in the beneficiary communities.

He pointed to figures on slide five stating that wheat is sitting at 1.3% output for black farmers and potatoes at 1% for black farmers. How is the master plan going to impact that and create a real increase? How is the Master Plan going to locate land and ensure that the 1% of potatoes increases to 40% within the next three to five years? Will the Master Plan be able to talk to real land where potato production will be done? From where are the funds going to come to ensure the potato sector grows? On cattle where output for black farmers is 34%, the vast majority of red meat lies in black farmers and rural communities in particular. How will the Master Plan ensure that the cattle are market-ready and are what is required in terms of A-grade meat?

As infrastructure remains a challenge and is highlighted throughout the Master Plan, there is no mention of Strategic Integrated Project 11 (SIP11). What is the status of SIP11 and what has it achieved in terms of infrastructure?

How far is the process to establish a land and agriculture agency which is expected to drive land reform and coordinate land donations and identification of strategic land? What will the agency’s status be? Will it be a statutory body within the department or an independent entity?

The Chairperson raised concern about data credibility and data deficiency as a key challenge in the development of subsistence smallholder farmers. What is the status of the farmer register? As much as the Master Plan aims to also address inequity, it is still focused on the commercial sector. Small scale or emerging farmers will continue to be recipients of commercial industry products instead of being capacitated to be independent and commercial.

NAMC response
Mr Ngqangweni answered the technical questions. On the absence of COGTA, Contralesa, National House and Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders, he replied that the consultation during the development of the Master Plan had been extensive. The presentation listed the National House and Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders as consulted parties. COGTA was also involved when various departments were consulted. A discussion was had with the traditional authorities on how to integrate the fallow land into the traditional areas. The status of the plan is that it is an overall vision which focuses on the commitments of the various partners. The most important step to follow is to craft an implementation plan with specifics that point to the budgets, targets, and timelines. The Department will present this when the implementation plan is ready. The agreement between the social partners at this stage is a victory.

On the broader commitments that need to be addressed to get the sector to the next level in terms of competitiveness and inclusivity, he admitted that the plan does not get into all the necessary details that Committee members have indicated in their questions. However, many of those raised by Members will be addressed in the implementation plan. This will address how national, provincial and municipal budgets will be allocated to the Master Plan commitments. He promised that the details that Members asked about will be included.

On irrigation infrastructure and SIP11, there is now a dedicated function in the Presidency, the Investment and Infrastructure Office (IIO), that looks at all the infrastructure in a consolidated manner. Agriculture is part of that. SIP11 has been consolidated under the Presidency to look at a more holistic picture of infrastructure. A decision was taken to centralize all infrastructure discussions for the entire economy in the IIO and DALRRD is participating in that process.

On how the Master Plan will ensure that the current output share of black farmers increases, the National Red Meat Development Programme (NRMDP) has produced evidence that it is possible to use resources and commercialise the livestock of communal farmers. What the Master Plan seeks to do in its implementation phase is to build on the successes of programmes such as the NRMDP. These interventions are termed transformation schemes or development schemes. In the livestock sector, the NRMDP will be the basis to build on the success and achievements of that sector. There is evidence to show that communal areas have potential if focused programmes related to the conditions in those areas are implemented. There will be similar transformation schemes in other sectors. Each transformation scheme will be designed to take into account the special and unique conditions in those sub-sectors.

On the assertion that the master plan is too theoretical, he reiterated that at this stage the plan is looking at the broader interventions within the sector. The implementation plan will look at the specifics including the budget allocation.

On whether the R9.4 billion has been approved, the R9.4 billion allocation will be specified in the implementation plan and along with the reprioritization of funds.

On what happened to other plans such as the agro-processing strategy and how these previous plans link with the Master Plan, Mr Ngqangweni replied that the Master Plan consolidates all the elements from past plans, specifically focusing on what has not been implemented. Past plans have suffered from shortcomings in their implementation; therefore, the Master Plan focuses on all interventions being implementable. What will make the Master Plan different from other plans is the specific requirement for this to be a public-private partnership in its implementation. There is a commitment that the private sector will commit one rand for every rand government commits. There will be a dedicated focus on ensuring that there is core monitoring and evaluation.

Mr Ntombela replied that climate change has been part of the research work which informed different interventions. A background research document was produced as part of the build-up to the Master Plan. With assistance from universities and international organizations, this research did not only look at climate models but also went further to see the different expected yield when looking at the projected climate models and how that transfers to the level of energy that will be taken by different household consumers to give one a sense of what the level of food security will be in the 20-year period time horizon. It also informed policy on the acquisition of strategic land.

On what happened to SIP11, Mr Ntombela explained that the R9.4 billion costing is the short term and the deficit that goes beyond is the component of SIP11. The Department has built up on some of the pieces of SIP11 equally within Phakisa and other programmes.

On the black farmer output percentages in slide five and how to increase percentages in practice, he gave the mohair industry as an example of a growing industry moving beyond those baselines. Due to the transformation schemes and the rand for rand commitments, NAMC identified some strategic land in collaboration with DALRRD and the provinces that will be suitable to produce commercially viable black farmers within the mohair industry. Some of the biggest commercially viable and sustainable mohair producers in the country are black farmers.

Mr Ngqangweni replied about the complaint that certain stakeholders were addressed with haste and others not at all during the consultation process. The consultative process was an intense process. A lot of effort went into making sure that everybody was consulted. Some stakeholders involved in the beginning were no longer involved towards the end of the process. However, before the launch of the Master Plan, the Minister was consulted who advised that we need to get to a point where if there is sufficient consensus on the commitments and we have a document that is sufficiently consulted, we should go ahead with the launch, but the process must be open.

A lot of work still needs to be done, especially on how these broad interventions are to be implemented. Some stakeholder concerns were quite broad and it was not possible to really state them in the document in a way that the stakeholders would have wanted them to appear. The openness of the document makes room for further engagement with stakeholders who might have felt they were left behind. The process is still open and there is a tracked process that will take place in negotiations around the implementation.

The Chairperson welcomed the Minister, who apologised for being late to the meeting.

DALRRD Director-General response
Mr Mooketsa answered the policy questions. On what labour had wanted to resolve before the process could unfold, the main issue was about social security as the labour unions would have wanted to have an agreement with business. Within the context of the AAMP, work is being done on social protection – the issue is around the wording and how it needs to be pronounced. A few proposals have been made that would see DALRRD dealing with concerns raised by the Department of Labour about social protection.

On the vision to include decent work in the document and conditionalities to ensure businesses are ethical in conducting their business, the view in the Master Plan was on ethical consideration. DALRRD should be able to deal with the decent work issue through that ethical trait and the built-in conditionalities. Labour wanted to go beyond the farm-based worker forums to ensure that there is a meaningful contribution in the different forums. High level issues include certain issues that business would have wanted to be reflected in the master plan. Labour had said that they are already taken care of in the prescripts processes and procedures. These issues are currently being taken care of in track two of the Master Plan discussions.

On the involvement of youth and women formations, DALRRD will consult with youth and women formations in track two. All the formations that DALRRD has consulted have youth and women desks that attended the sessions.

On Ms Steyn’s questions on funding, DALRRD would be responsible for the implementation of the master plan through the NAMC. There will be oversight. The Committee has been incisive in pointing out that we have many plans, but this also signifies that when new circumstances come to the fore for DALRRD, the concept of adaptation also comes to the fore. The Department will also focus on ensuring that the budgets are taken care of at the implementation level.

Mr Mooketsa replied that the Master Plan has a chapter focusing on climate change and climate change as an overarching issue appears in the text throughout the plan as a response to our commitments as a country to reducing carbon emissions and ensuring that the agriculture sector contributes to what was set in the Paris Agreement. Of importance for the master plan and our climate adaptation and mitigation plans, R15 million will be set aside for climate change research.

The Stellenbosch University study arose around the time the Master Plan was being concluded. That study is shining a light on property rights and land ownership. When it comes to property rights, the Department knows that Parliament assists with the land expropriation without compensation process. Therefore, policy certainty on issues within the purview of DALRRD are adequately covered in the Master Plan.

On the funding model, a clear formula was used when the Minister launched the R1bn Agri-Industrial Fund in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The Minister clearly indicated how it is unfolding. The formula is easy. If you spend R1 billion, you are likely to leverage R3 billion in funding. That is the funding model it is using. The model will go beyond the rand for rand model by ensuring that they are able to broadly utilise the articulation of funding in terms of blended finance model.

On the linkages of this plan with other plans and localized food chains, this is an important issue. This plan is aligned with the sugar and poultry master plans, but it is also linked to the retail, clothing, textile, food and leather value chains. There is alignment to ensure that we push this through.

On certain signatures not being on the document, Mr Mooketsa replied that this sign-off will be worked on in the relevant areas of the master plan, especially on the agro-processing side.

On the localized food chains, a progress report was given on what DALRRD found out in its consultation last year when the Minister consulted before attending the UN Food Systems summit. The Master Plan is also responding to those areas that have been identified. This is one area of importance. He has already reflected on the Stellenbosch research – it is also important to contextualise it within funding as a business and how cyclical it has become. He is happy that it looks at the medium term. They are able to deal with issues that have been highlighted as challenges within the sector.

There has been engagement with the EU. Extensive discussions were had with the EU director responsible for international relations in agriculture. Letters have been written to the EU but DALRRD awaits responses and therefore he cannot respond without seeing their letters. DALRRD’s letter stated that as South Africa was doing trade with the EU for a number of years, it does not think that the concerns raised by the scientific assessment would be in line with the appropriate level of protection ensuring the products land safely in EU territory and therefore SA would have wanted it to reconsider the elements raised. They still await the EU response.

On the level of EU discussions, what was agreed on was DALRRD will open the engagement channels at a technical level on the issues. That process will remain open unless there is reneging from one side.

On Ms Breedt's complaint about the AAMP, he replied that this takes root from the Comprehensive Producer Development Policy which is under construction so that there is alignment.

On skills development, he replied that the AAMP broadly addresses skills development because this is where we get out jobs, technology, research and development.

On how the impact is to be realized where there is movement of agricultural colleges to the DHET, this process is underway and there are discussions with all the units to see how best we deal with this. This should be looked at as an opportunity instead of seeing it as a threat. The curriculum of these colleges will still remain with DALRRD so that the Minister will be able to centre this on the skills that South Africa requires.

Everyone is pining for the Cannabis Master Plan but he knows that most of the master plans are co-scripted with all the stakeholders. The discussions cannot be pushed without dealing with certain things. Dealing with a master plan takes time. The process reaches a stage where the country has to move when there is sufficient consensus and context. If we do not move on, we become embroiled in a never ending discussion that delays implementation.

On food security taking a back burner, he replied that the definition of food security goes beyond just the provision or availability of food, it also goes to food affordability and affordability in terms of jobs that can be created. If we look at the possibility of the Cannabis Master Plan creating jobs we are sitting in an area that can really assist the agricultural sector to move beyond the 850 000 jobs we have in the sector. How do we then create a balance without saying that the Cannabis Master Plan should take a back burner instead of the Agriculture and Agro-Processing Master Plan.

Mr Mooketsa replied that Inkosi Cebekhulu is correct that the subsidisation of farmers is central to the discussions. Minister Didiza will be attending the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization where discussions on subsidisation will take place. The country needs to think differently about how we approach the WTO instruments considering COVID-19, the floods and uproar in the country.

In reply to the Chairperson, there is a deep need for presentations on the Master Plan to take place from municipality to municipality. The Master Plan went for engagements at municipal level, at some stage using districts and regions because there are value chains that go beyond districts. Those plans are available. The Department will send the Committee detailed plans on those areas it engaged the provincial departments on. They will also give an update on the irrigation infrastructure as requested which is meant to deal with the NDP targets on expanding irrigation. They are dealing with ensuring that the agents are positioned to deal with farmer support and property management.

On data credibility, the farmer register is currently registering farmers and therefore credibility of the data will arise because DALRRD does not have the entire population of farmers. They are dealing with them as they go when they give services to them.

Dr Ngqangweni replied on the terms such as “small scale farmers” and "black farmers” used throughout the document, saying they tried to stick to the guidelines set by the DALRRD on what these terms mean. These terminologies are used in the context of the various interventions required for those categories of farmers. The word "black" is used to highlight demographic realities that need to be dealt with in the sector.

The Ukraine-Russia war has exposed some of the vulnerabilities that the country has from a national food security point of view. There is an ongoing discussion on how to deal with that on an emergency basis. The Master Plan looks at the country’s long term ability to produce certain commodities locally that talk to constraints and interventions such as research and development.

Ministry remarks
Deputy Minister Skwatsha said that the questions and funding plan had been sufficiently canvassed. He echoed that the Minister and Professor Qobo need to be congratulated on the plan. The fact that AFASA did not want to sign but eventually did sign was a rigorous process that was engaged. What he meant by saying that DALRRD and the Committee are a team was that the Department understands the role of Parliament and the Portfolio Committee. What happens in Parliament is not what is imposed by the executive. Parliament's criticism and oversight helped the Executive serve South Africans better. In that way, the Committee and DALRRD are a team.

Minister Thoko Didiza stated that she could not catch the beginning of the discussion but she trusts that the team responded as best as it could. She has taken notes on some of the points the Committee would like DALRRD to work on. The Department will come to report on how the summit went in working with traditional leaders. DALRRD is going to have a dedicated workshop with traditional leaders to look at rural investment.

That will be a multi-sectoral engagement which brings in all other departments in the economic cluster to look at funding and implementing rural investment. She commended the work done by traditional leaders to come up with a plan for the development of rural communities. She agreed that DALRRD might need to engage directly with formal structures consisting of women and youth in agriculture. She agreed that municipalities must be engaged. Municipalities are an enabler of agriculture. It is important that they are cited on DALRRD’s plans with agriculture and what the municipality’s role could be in this regard.

Closing remarks
The Chairperson requested NAMC provide a list of consulted stakeholders in each province.

Ms Breedt stated that she is not satisfied with how DALRRD answered the Committee’s questions. There are several contradictions in their answers and this worries her. Many of the questions were not satisfactorily answered even though the questions were direct and required specific answers. The Committee has been asking about the master plan since the start of the Sixth Parliament and today DALRRD tells the Committee about several policies that the Committee has not seen. Being asked for input on the Master Plan a month after it has been signed does not give the Committee the opportunity to do the necessary oversight. She pleaded with the Chairperson that the Committee needs to talk personally – outside of a recorded space – on how this is going to be taken forward. She believes that justice is not being done to farmers and agricultural communities. She requested Committee staff follow up on the items that the Committee requested from the Department although she feels that it is unlikely that they will get a response.

The Chairperson replied that a session will be held to address this concern when Members are all present in Cape Town and it would be ideal for it to take place before Parliament rises on 20 June.

The Committee adopted the minutes of 24 May 2022 and the meeting was adjourned.

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