International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources; Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber on transformation

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

17 October 2023
Chairperson: Mr M Mandela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

In its briefing on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) gave reasons for its ratification:
• It support government priorities on sustainable management and use of natural and biological resources and rural development.
• It recognises contributions of local and indigenous communities and farmers to conservation and development of plant genetic resources.
• South Africa will ensure the protection of traditional knowledge, farmers will participate equitably in benefit sharing and decision-making on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.
• It is prudent for South Africa to be a part of the global negotiations on the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-Sharing on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, to safeguard its interests as well as access and benefit sharing for their utilization.

Committee members wanted more detail on the full implications of the treay. The Committee will consider approval to ratify the treaty on 20 October 2023.

The Deciduous Food Development Chambers gave a briefing on the transformation challenges in the industry and that the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) had turned down the DFDC application for funding from the statutory levies. The Chairperson said that the Committee will engage with NAMC and the request to amend the Marketing of Agricultural Products Act will be taken up with the Minister.

Meeting report

International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources
Mr Dipepeneneng Serage Deputy Director-General: Agricultural Production, Biosecurity and. Natural Resource, said the reason South Africa seeks admission is to co-share information to benchmark and access the best quality plant material. It is also to have protection because once South Africa is part of the treaty, materials are registered and therefore one gains protection. For example, in the unlikely event of losing all cultivars of maize – South Africa can borrow established material and rely on other countries who have done the research.

Dr Noluthando Netnou-Nkoana, Director of Genetic Resources, said as the DDG explained plant genetic resources consist of diversity of seeds, both traditional and those of modern cultivars which are crucial for sustainable agricultural production. This forms the basis for food security and supporting economic livelihoods particularly in rural communities. The diversity of these crops need to be conserved as they provide for current and future use by farmers, breeders as well as researchers. These resources are also used as food for feeding domestic animals.

It is commonly known that there has been a significant loss of these resources, and this poses a severe threat to the world’s food security in the long term and therefore the need to conserve these resources. Conservation and sustainable use is critical to safeguard crop production to meet environmental challenges and population growth. Through this recognition, a global instrument has been established in the form of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as well as the treaty presented today.

Both these instruments highlight the importance of conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources but most importantly the fair and equitable share of benefits arising from their use. The main difference between these two instruments is that this treaty recognises the special nature of genetic resources for food and agriculture and therefore concentrates on those resources. South Africa is already a signatory to the CBD and its focal point is the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment (DFFE). South Africa is also a signatory to the Nagoya Protocol and because of this we have the legislation, National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA). However, this particular legislation excludes plant genetic resources listed in this treaty. These treaties help protect biodiversity and in the case of where there is no protection domestically, action needs to be taken. The Treaty provides for protection. Although South Africa is not a member of the treaty yet, the Department does have some of these activities performed by its National Gene Bank.

The Gene Bank was established in 1995 with the main function conservation of material with 6202 samples of crops stored in the Gene Bank. There is ex situ conservation which is the collection of materials from farmers and communities which are documented for storage in freezers for long term use and for the provision of genetic resources to farmers and communities and researchers. This collection mission involves farmers who are custodians of traditional varieties. Farmers donate material to the Gene Bank where a material transfer agreement is signed. There is active collection and material is readily available upon request for repatriation where seeds are taken back to the farmers. For instance with the current floods in KZN material was repatriated to those areas for farmers to continue to grow their traditional seeds.

In addition to ex situ conservation, there is in situ / on-farm conservation which includes: On-farm multiplication; Community Seed Banks (CSB); Seed diversity/food fair; and Participatory Plant Breeding Program. Community seed banks have been established by the Department for promotion of seed diversity and food amongst farmers who participate in plant breeding programs. For farm multiplication, there are projects in the Free State, Northern Cape, KZN and North West. The Department has established three community seed banks (Jericho in North West, Gumbu in Limpopo and Sterkspruit in Eastern Cape) and farmers share amongst themselves seed multiplied and stored in these seed banks for use when needed. The food and seed diversity fair is a platform for material sharing for farmers. Seed sharing and information sharing is promoted and prioritised. For the participatory plant breeding project, farmers are encouraged to identify crops of interest to grow and this project is run together with the Agricultural Research Council. DALRRD is assisting farmers in Jericho in North West draft a business case to further production.

This treaty is the only one that aims to conserve plant genetic resources for food security, conservation as well as fair and equitable sharing of the benefits. The treaty is in harmony with the CBD. Article 9 on farmers rights is a special feature of the treaty and recognizes the contribution of farmers, providing for the protection of traditional knowledge and for the rights of farmers to participate in making decisions at national level on conservation and sustainable use. Currently the treaty has 145 parties.

Dr Netnou-Nkoana outlined the rationale, implications and implementation plan (see document).

Mr Serage noted that Members might already be aware of companies promoting hybrid seeds which cannot be reused to grow further crops. These seeds called hybrids are sold all over the country. For a seed to produce, it needs to be pollinated and pollination requires insects and wind. With climate change, there is a situation of limited bee activity or lack of wind when required and that results in crop failure. As a remedy to climate change and limited bee activity we tend to prefer natural seed formation. With hybrid, the seed cannot be fertilized traditionally and cannot be used for production the following year. Seed companies are introducing hybrid seed therefore the need arises for government to introduce natural seeds to preserve for future use as hybrid seeds may erode seed capacity. Thus it is important to have seed kept as reserves should there be a need and also to share with other treaty members seed in the global scientific village when required.

The treaty is housed within the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN and it provides forum participation and sharing of knowledge and expertise. However, it remains important for South Africa to be able to have its own gene banks because if South Africa is not participating in the treaty, the challenge of theft will be rife because local seeds will not be registered. Once we accede to the treaty, its genetic material and seeds are registered and known and nobody can access them without our knowledge. There will be the encouragement of indigenous knowledge system of seed production and preservation. In the olden days, ash was used to preserve seed and that will be one of the indigenous ways to preserve seeds which we would love to share with other countries and in return they share with us their seed production. The intention is for a roll out of sufficient food banks within the country. Already there are three sites using this participatory approach with all community members knowing the importance of traditional ways of seed production informed by indigenous knowledge systems. As noted, in the case of the KZN floods, seeds grown originally in KZN were provided for purposes of reproduction. This treaty is a safeguard for food security.

Mr N Masipa (DA) said that he had expected that the presentation to be much more detailed on the treaty as whatever would be agreed upon needed clear understanding of what we are entering into as a country and voting on it. The contract has numerous technical and legal aspects. With this treaty, the danger is exposure to our seeds and intellectual information by a global community. However, if some reason SA is unable to export globally, they have South Africa's genetics or embryo, and they can carry on with business as usual. He gave the example of merino sheep embryo and semen. Due to the challenge of food and mouth disease, animal products cannot be exported. Therefore the outside demand for genes is very high. He understood that Australia might be using some of our embryo and semen for their Boer goats. He had asked the Minister before to first resolve the food and mouth disease. At the moment Australia could be trading Boer goat embryo with the US. It is known that South Africa 's Boer goat has the best genes but we are not able to export. Therefore he appealed for extensive explanation of all elements of the treaty.

Ms T Mbabama (DA) said that the topic is very interesting, and it was one she was not familiar with. She asked if there was a gene bank prior to 1994 and for the difference between accession and ratification. What kind of approval is sought from Parliament on the treaty. Can there not be community seed banks in all provinces and how do ordinary small scale subsistence farmers gain access to the seed? Invitation for public comment was mentioned but the small-scale farmers affected by climate change have no access to the government gazette. The preservation of indigenous knowledge she finds very interesting and she agreed that the Committee be taken through the treaty in detail. How does one preserve indigenous knowledge; are there books and technological devices? If the treaty is approved and in light of the possible conflict with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), Plant Breeders’ Rights and Plant Improvement Acts, how will the Department ensure protection of the intellectual property of indigenous knowledge and benefit sharing for subsistence and small-scale farmers? Since there are two different types of agriculture in South Africa which Wandile Sihlobo outlines well in his new book, A Country of Two Agricultures, does the treaty talk to both?

Ms N Mahlo (ANC) said most African countries except for Botswana are contracting parties to the treaty. Why has South Africa not acceded to the treaty earlier? The Department should also clarify why South Africa must accede to the treaty and outline the disadvantages for the country. As Mr Masipa mentioned, for buy-in it is important that the Committee understand before ratifying. What will the benefit be for the country? Does it require new laws for South Africa? We have to understand what exactly we are getting into as we are not all legal professionals. Lastly, does the treaty recognize the rights of all farmers irrespective of scale of operation?

Mr H Kruger (DA) noted the existence of the Clivia plant in South Africa. In China there are 160 000 breeders of Clivia and there are Clivia breeders all over the world. How do we protect our Clivia seeds and plants? He can show photos of Clivia taken from nature and on their way to China. The Chinese pay millions of dollars for this plant. His concern is the protection of this plant as there are a few places left where this plant is found in its natural habitat.

The Chairperson noted that during the processing of the Plant Breeders' Rights Bill and Plant Improvement Bill in the Fifth Parliament there was an outcry from the civil society organizations and small-scale farmer representatives about the impact that both those Bills will have on small-scale farmers. Civil society organizations said both bills focused on commercial and large scale farming and did not recognize small scaling farming. The Plant Breeders' Rights Bill did not recognize small scale farmers for royalties through development and sale of material as they are traditional seeds that do not conform to distinct uniform and stable testing criteria as required by UPOV, the international body to which South Africa is a signatory.

Those two Bills have been signed into law since 2018. UPOV informed some of the provisions in those Bills and it does not recognize farmers rights and traditional practices. Therefore, how will South Africa implement a treaty which recognises farmers' traditional practices and rights. Will there not be a conflict between the two international instruments and the Acts?

Mr Masipa noted the Preamble of the treaty spoke of the past, the present and future contributions. Would this apply to Merino sheep? Article 9 talks about farmers' rights and all farmers being covered. Are farmers aware of this treaty we are about to sign? Article 17 talks about the global information system for plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Can you clarify how this information collection will benefit SA? Article 18 talks about financial resources. Can we be taken through the financial resources and budget that needs to be allocated? He referenced Article 25 on the treaty being open for signature by all FAO members.

The Chairperson noted that the Department said that during consultations most stakeholders were in favour of SA acceding to the treaty. He asked if this treaty is specified in section 231(4) of the Constitution.

Mr Masipa said that the treaty aims to protect farmers, but South Africa has geographical indicators to protect what is of home origin. What is the difference between geographic indicators and this treaty?

The Chairperson noted this is a plant genetic resources treaty and asked if there is a similar instrument for animal genetics.

DALRRD response
Mr Serage replied that the Department acknowledges and accepts that the contract is in legal language; however, the Committee can be assured that the treaty is for the purpose of protecting South African interests. To use the example of the Boer goat – what we have is only known to us; it opens us to exploitation. South Africa refused to sell genetic material or the Boer goat to China. Records show that China then bought it from Namibia because South Africa is a neighbour and China bred it. The same applies to the Dorper and Merino sheep. In fact this treaty will help to deal with that because once its registered, legally anybody with South African material can be challenged. In the event of climate change bringing disaster and we lose all Dorper sheep since it would be registered, whoever has it must acknowledge that it is South African material and also the records will inform us who has it in the world. In the event of climate change wiping out a breed, we can get semen for re-establishment purposes. That is the aim of the treaty.

Mr Serage said Mr Masipa is correct that trade must be facilitated with the rest of the world and to be able to do that we must control and clamp down on foot and mouth disease. Currently the Department has been able to control foot and mouth disease in the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and to a greater extent the Free State. Free State is central and key. We have been able to prevent it from further spilling over to the Eastern Cape and it has been contained at a very high price because it cost more than R200 million, but also due to biosecurity and farmers not playing around. This is something that the Department is working hard at to go back to basics to ensure it does not spread. In the communal rural space, research shows it is not circulating. The reason is that there is not a frequent exchange or interchange of animals and trucks. It is not a bad practice to exchange but farmers out of greed do not disinfect trucks or ensure it is known from where the animals have been brought. The department has clamped down on the movement of animals to be able to control the foot and mouth disease. This has gone well to the extent that other countries such as China and Saudi Arabia and other countries are gradually opening to us for trade in animals and animal products.  

On the risk of exposing our genetic material, we need to balance that risk with what he had mentioned earlier – if nobody knows it belongs to us, they will find other means to access it and use it. However, if it is known and registered, it will not be easy to use it. Once we accede to the treaty and we learn that China or another country has our Clivia, we can go to them and ask them not to use it. In fact with SA as a treaty member, they would know not to use any of our material.

It is a good question to ask why only now when this government started in 1994. We are asking for approval so South Africa can accede. We need to be quick in order to be able to have our IP known and protected so no one can access it.

The intention of seed banks in some of the provinces is for purpose of replication. Some areas in South Africa have peculiar environmental and climatic conditions therefore different parts of the province have different systems of seed production and preservation. The intention is to have that all over the country especially starting with food crops and those need to be preserved as and when needed and in the event of floods. As far as small scale farmers, the pictures presented were real not rented crowds. These are rural farmers and no small-scale farmer would have missed this process and to answer the question, they were sufficiently consulted. They know about them. A challenge is to spread the information to ensure that we have food gene banks all over the country accessible to everybody including small-scale farmers. On the book about two agricultures by Wandile Sihlobo, yes, this addresses both.

The commercial farmers were consulted as they go for mass production. Those that sell hybrid seed take no interest in this process hence there is a need for balance. There is law now that helps demarcate the distance and we must avoid a situation where hybrid seeds and pollinated and traditional seed do not bridge that because that is the area in need of protection.

 We inherited South Africa at a time when South Africa before 1994 was only partially participating in treaties. In fact, you are right to say why only now. We have came in late however, it is never too late to get started and something is finally happening.

To answer the question of how South Africa benefit, whoever accesses our material will know they will be committing a crime. We will be able to access the plant in the Netherlands and Europe which gives 8% of protein which we do not have in this country. There is also research in the UK of a potato that requires no fertilization and because we are members, we will be able to access it once we are members.

The main intention of this treaty is to preserve crops that are known in South Africa that are indigenous because most of the crops that we use for food have their relatives in the wild. We have the first viruses in cannabis because now that it is produced in a monoculture process, it is getting viruses. Any crops produced and exposed to monoculture attracts pests. Science acknowledges that some crops with their relatives in the wild do not get attacked therefore it is important that when a food bank is created, there is the knowledge of the same food crop in the wild to understand how it withstands drought, to learn from it to protect all food crops. In the end we will end up having gene banks all over the country preserving seed security and genetic materials for the country.

As for the Plant Breeders’ Rights and Plant Improvement Acts, they ensure that we do not take a variety that is already registered and use it for something else. This is to ensure that everybody who has IP is protected.

Dr Netnou-Nkoana repeated the benefits of the treaty to South Africa. Mr Masipa has concerns about the dangers of exposing our seed and theft without any returns. The treaty exists to protect us precisely from that. We might know that most of our genetic resources are already out there in many countries but there is no benefit coming back to the country and nothing that we can do. Being members of the treaty will mean our crops will be included in the multi-lateral system whereby anyone now who uses our material will recognize the origin of that material up to the farmer from where the material was collected. There must be benefits that come back to the country through the benefit fund of the treaty. Therefore people cannot steal our material with no benefit to South Africa. One of the aims also is to ensure access.

ARC has a gene bank. The gene banks under the Department concentrate on traditional varieties that are collected mostly from communities and local farmers where material is adapted to those geographical niches. This only started in 2013 with Gumbu, then Sterkspruit and Jericho. There is an interest from KZN but it is a process we are undertaking as the Department. Small-scale farmers can access seed from the community seed banks because they are the custodians of all the material kept.

For farmers around the community seed bank, it is a matter of participation. This does not mean they cannot access that seed as the purpose is to promote seed exchange. The seeds are kept for purposes of returning them to the farmers as the need arises. The Department works with extension officers in various provinces and where there is a need the material is prepared and deposited. There is a database that shows where each material was collected and where it can be best grown so farmers can easily access these both in the community seed bank and the national gene bank. Upon collection, indigenous knowledge associated with the collected material is recorded to preserve the knowledge. The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) is also engaged for the indigenous knowledge to be captured in their IKS recorder system. We work with books on traditional recipes and farmers contributed to information published in those books.

The treaty has a list of crops it covers and Clivia is not on the list. Since Clivia is an indigenous biological resource protected by NEMBA under the DFFE which has similar instruments, and those instruments protect indigenous biological resources. NEMBA is giving back benefits to communities from where these plants were collected such as the aloe. However, NEMBA does not protect the landraces that we are trying to protect under this treaty. We want similar NEMBA provisions to apply to traditional crops because there is no instrument to protect bio crops from piracy and this treaty will assist with that.

The treaty does recognize farmers rights and is the only international instrument that has an article on farmers rights. However, it is left to the contracting parties whether to have domestic legislation and that brings us to the questions on the Plant Breeders' Rights Bill and the Plant Improvement Bill [not yet brought into operation]. The current Plant Breeders Act of 1976 does not recognize the rights of farmers as depicted in the treaty and when 1976 Act was amended this was looked at. The two Bills were assented to in 2018 and currently we are consulting on the regulations and in the regulations the rights of farmers to save varieties and exchange protected seed have been concluded as depicted in the treaty. Therefore, this international treaty will not be against any Act and it will promote the traditional farming system. By acceding to treaty, it will be a step forward and where applicable they get benefits due to them on the material they own.

Mr Serage added that the geographical indicators are currently protected by South African law.

Dr Netnou-Nkoana explained that once a treaty is closed for signature, a state may become a party to it by means of accession. If we look at the Article on the global information system, the system records all material captured in the gene banks of the world. The information system will assist in keeping track what is out there that was collected from South Africa so that we can know what is being used and from what to benefit. We will be able contribute as it links to our gene banks.

South Africa is already a FAO member and we are paying what is due to FAO. In implementing the treaty, contracting parties like Sweden can voluntarily pay in extra funds; however, that is voluntary. The money that goes to the benefit fund is from the commercialization of genetic resources as there is a standard material transfer agreement where a percentage payment into the benefit fund for materials use is required. Contracting members might access the funding that is in the fund. Therefore, South Africa does not have to pay extra. For treaty implementation, budget for such is already there as the Department mandate is to conserve and sustainably use genetic resources for food and agriculture.

On the public consultation inputs on the treaty, one of the major reservations was if the treaty would be in conflict with UPOV and if the Plant Breeders' Rights Act acknowledges farmers' rights as depicted in the treaty. Those were the main concerns. We have since included in the regulations that farmers can save and exchange the protected varieties.

Geographical indicators are special intellectual property protection that needs to be registered as such. The treaty will render protection even though it is not a formal protection regime but whoever uses the material is protected. The material is for communities and we will ensure that whoever accesses the material will be able to pay back that community. If the farmers have a niche product for their own geographical area, this does not stop them for using the material.

This is a plant resources treaty and does not include farm animals. However, South Africa is a member of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and this is the body that realized the need for a specialized instrument for farm animals as currently there is no international level instrument such as the treaty. Through the Commission there are negotiations for a similar instrument for farm animal genetic resources. For now, the access and benefit sharing element of the FAO covers animal genetic resources with hope that in future it will have one.

The expectation is that we would have to develop national legislation because it will be through legislation that we can recognize the rights of farmers so that farmers can get the same protection that is afforded through the Plant Breeders' Rights Act. National legislation emanating from the treaty particularly for the promotion of farmers rights as depicted in Article 9 of the treaty.

On treaty consultation, the DDG has explained that the farmers that we work with are familiar with the treaty and matters of conservation, sustainable use, access and benefit sharing. In 2018 when there was physical consultation, civil society organizations in attendance brought in the farmers they were representing.

The Chairperson pointed out that the treaty will be considered on 20 October 2023 by the Committee. He asked to move on to the second presentation.

Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber (DFDC) briefing
Mr Ismail Mota, DFDC Acting CEO, presented and he was accompanied by Dr Job Mthombeni, DFDC Chairperson, and Company Secretary, Adv Chris Kilowen. Mr Mota said DFDC would not be in the meeting had there not been crises in transformation and that their presence was mainly for solutions towards transformation in the agricultural economy and specifically the deciduous fruit industry in South Africa. The deciduous fruit industry had a 2021 turnover of R15 billion and 90% is concentrated in the Western Cape and the risk over the next 15-20 years is climate change. The DFDC was formed and created as the only legitimate transformation arm of the deciduous industry specifically to change the face of this economy. The DFDC has a board made up producers and it interacts with the larger industry as it believes that it controls the industry. The deciduous industry as it stands is weak in terms of transformation. It is funded via levy funding. However, in 2022 the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) reported that the total levy in our industry was under R139 million when DFDC had only received R5 million to run its operations and to change the status quo. We were given responsibility to manage these funds for more than 20 years. This limited us in do as much as we want to do.

As for transformation, there are 1499 deciduous producers in South Africa with only 33 black 100% black ownership and of 52 000 hectares, only 2% is owned by black people. In primary agriculture, not value chain, export or marketing companies – there is nothing in that sphere and to reiterate this is a R15-billion industry. DFDC has MOUs with a range of provinces. In Mpumalanga it had visibility on six farms which need resuscitation and the plan is to develop at least 200 hectares of fruit over a five-year period. We are looking at exploring citrus production among black farmers in Limpopo and the Western Cape as well. We have a relationship with ARC as with our limited funds, we work with technical partners. KZN does not have any deciduous farmers planting however we spent time talking to people in the villages and we had a desktop study to see if deciduous can be planted in KZN looking at the soil conditions. We are confident that we can plant in KZN.We are starting from ground up because of limited funding.

Our MOU was cancelled, and this meant the death of DFDC. We did however apply for a levy for work we aim to do in the provinces over the next four years. The precedent to decline the DFDC application gives rise to ensuring that white commodities control, manage and define transformation in this country. Our fellow members within the Black Agricultural Commodities Federation (BACF) are going through the exact same issue where funds for transformation are not for black people. This NAMC decision to turn down the DFDC shows how bad transformation is and it is not only in the deciduous sector.One of our concerns is NAMC as an independent body is conflicted and is captured. How can decisions be taken and what role does NAMC play when it comes to transformation? NAMC is perpetuation of white dominance.

Adv Chris Kilowen, DFDC Company Secretary, referred to the Marketing of Agricultural Products (MAP) Act and said that the Act has zero transformation objectives in the agricultural sector among the various agricultural commodities. The Act needed to be reviewed and he requested that the Committee instigate that process. The Act is the biggest impediment to transformation as everybody takes their cue from the Act. All four objectives of the Act are aimed at commercial farmers who were part of the previous regime and they are still at an advantage under the new dispensation. The Act states that it aims to increase market share for participants but it is the 98% who were previously advantaged that benefit the most. The efficiency in marketing of agricultural products, the optimization of export earnings and the viability of the sector is shown by the levy which is R136 million. This is a multi-billion rand sector but only 2% of that sector are black commercial farmers. These farmers are not given support and are actively undermined by the 98% and that 98% is focused almost entirely on the Western Cape. There has been no deciduous fruit development outside of the Western Cape. This means one province is dominating the deciduous fruit market.

Not only DFDC but all farmers suffer the same problem because of the absence of transformation as the traditional market players have been excluded by the MAP Act and this is also because the Minister exclusively grants the administration of levy income to NAMC which is a monopoly. NAMC has come to believe that they are the owners of the levy so they do as they please. As DFDC our imperative is to ensure that the role of and the slice of the pie for black farmer increases over time. We want 20% because the rule says 20% of the money must be used for transformation. The number of deciduous farmers has decreased from 53 to 33. We want to ensure that transformation is for the black farmers in the MAP Act. DFDC aims to double the number over the next 25 years in and outside the Western Cape. Anybody who goes to NAMC will see that it is still under the control of white bureaucracy. It is only when NAMC receives a mandate and order that it will transform its nepotism and white control. There has also been a revolving door; the people who work for commodity organizations end up becoming the CEO for NAMC. The Act amendments in 1997 and 2001 did not address transformation. In fact in 2001 the power was given only to the Minister and it is about time that Parliament should be roped in again.

Mr Mota said they had asked NAMC to share its deliberations on the DFDC application. Unfortunately they have not acknowledged that request nor have they responded to us. We want the Minister to apply her mind and relook at the DFDC application. We would also like the MAP Act to be reviewed.

Mr Kruger said that looking at the MAP Act's four objectives which gives the opportunity to all, if transformation does not take place in this sector, it is government that must be blamed. There are tools that government can use to make transformation and therefore the Act cannot be blamed. Government has far exceeded the legislation process. What needs to be done is research to see where the error is. It does not seem to be the Act.

Ms Mahlo acknowledged the DFDC presentation; however there are some tools that she is missing. Tools will help her understand what we can do together to ensure that this organization is assisted. Listening to DFDC was similar to listening to a cry. Her observation is that DFDC lacks quality management systems and those must consist of policies that can make it attract investors. Our policy is a framework and therefore DFDC must be able to come up with their own framework outlining why government should assist it. We cannot wish white people away; such procedures are not assisting. The company must go back and look into its systems. If you have a quality management system, Parliament will come in as they will have an understanding of how DFDC operates with finances. This Committee cannot agree to anything without seeing policy. The presentation is empty in her opinion. DFDC looks at only four provinces. They need to look at all provinces.

Ms Mbabama said that DFDC was clear and she had no questions of clarity.

Mr Masipa said that he has been involved in the sector and understands the challenges facing the sector. It can be racialized; however, that is not the way to the solution. Is the legislation the problem? He doubts that it is the problem at the current moment. Transformation in the whole country is failing due to implementation. Members of Parliament can only intervene through oversight to address your concern. At the moment there is enough legislation. Whether it is transformation or marketing, all institutions in South Africa have a transformation element, however, primarily how do we really review this institution’s role. We need to have listening sessions for all commodity groups, looking at marketing and transformation challenges. After hearing them across the board we can make recommendations to Parliament and the Minister.

The Chairperson welcomed the presentation and the concern about the MAP Act being an impediment to sector transformation. The Department had acknowledged the shortcomings of the Act and has since 2017 been trying to amend the Act. He would recommend that the Committee engage with Minister Didiza on why the review of the MAP Act has taken so long. The Committee will also have to follow up with NAMC. That will be the way forward after this engagement with DFDC. However, DFDC must allow the Committee to respond.

DFDC response
Adv Kilowen noted the Chairperson's point that there is a problem with the MAP Act. Mr Kruger stated that the MAP Act has nothing to do with transformation, but marketing. However, the difficulty is the transformation levy. The Act is silent with what needs to be done to with the levy for transformation. There is no Act that deals with transformation in the agricultural sector. Our lived experience is we can go to NAMC and say that we are going to make the pie bigger but NAMC squeezes out those who are not clearly mentioned.

There are specific instruments and tools needed in the agricultural sector. We are quite confident this Committee is the only body that can engage the Minister on why it is that after 25 years there are only 33 black commercial black farmers. This is because there is no appetite for deciduous producers in the Western Cape. We accept that we are in the new South Africa but we certainly have to focus on new black farmers. With the R123 million received from levies and yet some farmers had to close business because they could not operate. Those farmers could have been assisted especially with the so-called transformation levy in place. Transformation in the agriculture sector is a failure.

Mr Mota said that there is no intention by DFDC to create racial division but this is rather a reality form where we come from in this country and African people are always on the backfoot of the agricultural economy. We know that there are black avocado producers and how many will benefit from the agreement signed at the BRICS agreement. In his sector be cannot market his company with another marketing company because we do not have black marketing companies. This is why he would suggest that the Committee visit some of the farmers. All we are saying is we need to create market independence for our farmers; there is no baseline information and up to today there is no clear information on who owns what.

The Chairperson said that the inputs given today resonate with the many challenges South Africa is faced with. As someone coming from the rural village, Mvezo, where many households are women-headed households and men continue to migrate to the cities to labour. This is the plight our people continue to face. It is up to us to take up this plight, map out what the challenges are, engage with NAMC and if there is even transformation within NAMC and how far they have been able to achieve transformation. He was fortunate to participate in the nomination of the new OBP board and he was very clear that the old board should be done away with in its entirety. This Committee must sent that strong message to the Department. He was glad to have engaged in this discussion. It cannot be that in this new political dispensation we accept this to be the norm. We must ask what more can we do. The request will be taken up with the Minister.

The Chairperson thanked everyone and adjourned the meeting.

Meeting adjourned.



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