Wärtsilä will enable leading Nigerian food company to modernise its power generation facilities to meet everyday production needs

The technology group Wärtsilä will supply fuel-flexible dual-fuel engines to extend, improve, and modernise power generation for a captive power plant at Nigeria’s oldest and largest food and agro allied company, Flour Mills Nigeria.

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MEC Ivan Meyer on the growth of Western Cape agriculture

The first-quarter GDP results show that agriculture in the Western Cape remains resilient

South Africa’s economy increased by an annualised and adjusted quarterly growth rate of 4.6% in the first quarter of 2021, according to StatsSA’s latest report.

This same report further indicated that the agricultural sector’s performance declined by 3.2% in the first quarter of 2021.

However, the year-on-year quarterly growth rate approach, which compares the first quarter of 2021 to the same quarter in 2020, shows that agricultural economic output increased by 7.5%.

Western Cape MEC of Agriculture, Dr. Ivan Meyer, said the latter was good news.

Said MEC Meyer: “When viewed on an annualised basis, the latest GDP data supports our view that Agriculture Sector will continue to contribute to the economic recovery of the Western Cape.”

Western Cape Department of Agriculture economist, Tshepo Morokong, highlights that an analysis of the data of some of the horticultural products important to the Western Cape shows a year-on-year quarterly increase in the first quarter of 2021.

Said Morokong: “The nominal agricultural gross income from rooibos tea (140%), deciduous and other fruits (16%), vegetables (6%), flowers and bulb (24%) shows an increase when compared to the same quarter in 2020”.

South African export volumes of a few selected agricultural products essential to the Western Cape economy from January to March 2020 and this same period in 2021 also show positive growth.

Export volumes show an increase in prunes and sloes (115%), peaches & nectarines (prepared) (67%), Peaches & Nectarines (Fresh) (34%) and berries (2%).

Morokong continues: “With the continuing good rains, agricultural performance is expected to improve in the quarters to come.

“Agriculture in South Africa is under pressure due to policy uncertainty caused by expropriation without compensation. However, agriculture in the Western Cape remains resilient, as can be seen from our latest export data,” concluded MEC Meyer.

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Minister Thoko Didiza: Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development Dept Budget Vote 2021/22

13 May 2021

Budget Vote Address by Minister A T Didiza during the budget debate of the Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development

This year we honour and celebrate the life of Me Charlotte Mannya Maxeke. Through her life, we can learn how she confronted the challenges that faced her society during her time. Charlotte was both a social and a political activist. In examining her life through the lenses of those who have done research on her life, it is clear that she continuously fought for political freedoms that were denied to many of her people. She mobilised women through campaigns on issues that affected them, such as pass laws and the land question. The quest for gender equality and women’s emancipation formed part of her struggles. Speaking at the memorial service of the Great Xhosa prophet Ntsikana in Johannesburg Maxeke said:

“We want men to protect the women of their nation, not men who hurt and endanger women when they become aware of their rights. We want men who are the salvation of the young girls of their nation whom can depend on their presence. We need men who will humble themselves so that the nation may lift then up to the starts of Africa for future generations. That is what Africa wants, that is what the women of Africa are weeping and praying for.” These words spoken in 1922 are still relevant to this day.

Madam Speaker and Honourable members, it is for this reason that our Government today, working with women’s organizations and civil society continues to fight against gender-based violence. The need to review our legislation is critical as another instrument for fighting gender based violence in society. Raising awareness that enables us to learn to respect women and girls in our homes, religious institutions, traditional leadership systems and the society is important. To change behaviour we need to unlearn the practices and customs that oppress women. We need to learn to uplift conflict resolution as an important people for dealing with conflict in the homes and elsewhere.  In addition, we need to mainstream gender equality in our policies and programmatic interventions.

Women’s empowerment cannot be an afterthought nor an add-on, but it ought to be integral in our policy, legal framework and our socio economic development plans.

Land Reform

Madam Speaker and Honourable members, you must have noted that even on the land allocation policies and processes, we have made a deliberate target that fifty per cent of the land allocation will go to women, forty per cent to youth and six per cent to people with disabilities. The land is an asset that can liberate women, not only in terms of ownership but also in the productive use of this asset for economic participation and livelihood.

Last year, President Ramaphosa announced that Government would release 700 000 hectares of state land for agricultural purposes. These land parcels included communities who have been utilising state land, farmers whose leases had either expired or never had any and some of these, there were no allocation made. We outlined a process that will ensure that we affirm the tenure rights of those who have been utilizing this land following the land enquiry process.

To date, we have managed to allocate 436 563 hectares of the 700 000 ha. Of the 436 563 ha allocated, the Department had, as of yesterday, issued leases for 206 765 hectares, of which:

  • 53 880 hectares comprising of 78 farms  were allocated to 211 females;
  • 14 251 hectares comprising of 18 farms  were  allocated to 131 youth;
  • 842 hectares (0,4%) comprising of 1 farm (0,5%) were allocated to a person with disabilities.

There are 116 farms totaling 127 743 ha which are occupied by communities. Given the nature of how this land has been utilized we have not achieved the fifty per cent allocation that we set for ourselves.

On the other forms of land redistribution through Pro Active Land Acquisition, Labour tenants and TRANCRAA, the Deputy Minister of Land Reform, Deputy Minister Skwatsha will have detailed how we have performed as well as how we seek to address the challenges that we face in respect of land administration.

Labour Tenants

Madam Speaker, Honourable Members, I wish to report that Professor Levin was appointed by the Land Claims Court as the Special Master for Labour Tenants in order to work with the Department in RESOLVING THE 9033 CLAIMS that are remaining out of the 20 000 that were lodged.

The Special Master working with the Department has tabled the execution plan in the Land Claims Court on how in the five years these claims will be resolved. Madam Speaker I need to indicate to this house that the Labour tenants plan has been informed by the provincial visits that the Special Master has undertaken in order to familiarize himself with the extent of the Labour tenancy challenge.

During these visits, the Special Master met with Labour tenants, civil society and farmers. On 17 May 2021, a workshop will be held in Paulpietersburg where all the stakeholders will participate in engaging on the implementation plan, which includes development support for the Labour tenants who will receive the land.

Land Restitution

Honourable Members, Land Restitution continues to be a matter of concern. We indicated our commitment to accelerating the resolution on old order claims. In the past financial year, we have settled 240 claims, which covered both urban and rural claims. The District Six development is continuing as planned, though disturbed by COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2021, the allocation of 108 housing units will be completed for qualifying beneficiaries, and the elderly will be prioritised.

Agricultural Land Leases

Madam Speaker, the management of farmland leases has caused concern from farmers, financial institutions, would-be investors and members of this very house. The Rakgase, Cloete and Zigana cases, though resolved, have amplified the need for a complete overhaul of our system of property management as a department.

We have also noted that some of the farms in Rust de Winter are under land claim. Noting the challenge brought by this development, Government will ensure that farmers with valid leases in this area continue with their farming operations. The Department will look for alternative land where they will be allocated. The Deeds Registry will also ensure that farm leases that are earmarked for farmers are registered in order to create certainty from the financial institutions and interested investors.

Madam Speaker, land delivery is vital in reversing the land inequality in our country. However, the productive use of the land is equally an important function. In the past year, agricultural activity was critical in providing food security for the country and the region. The performance of the sector remains positive throughout the year. In tabling the budget, it is essential to give an agricultural outlook.

Agricultural Sector performance and outlook

In 2021, the outlook on agriculture is positive; and we expect the sector to show strong growth figures and create employment. This optimism is supported by good weather, expansion in area plantings, and improving business confidence in the agriculture and agribusiness sectors. Effective public-private partnerships and transparency in policy-making partly underpin the positive business confidence in the sector.

Today, we have the Beneficiary Selection and Land Allocation Policy and Land Donations Policy. These policies emanate from the Presidential Panel’s recommendations on Land and Agriculture and aim to bring fairness and effectiveness in land reform.

Cabinet has also approved the Phytosanitary Bill and the Agricultural Products Standards Amendment Bill for tabling in Parliament. These Bills are critical in strengthening the regulatory environment within the sector. As a Department, we will also increase our capacity for animal health at the national level to support our regulatory environment.

Honourable Members, animal and plant health, are important for food security and agricultural trade. The current outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza affecting about six commercial farms in the country is being attended to by our veterinary services in the Province supported by the national. Containment measures have been put in place in the affected farms. We continue with our surveillance so that we manage the spread. We have noted the setback that this has had in our regional markets.

Although there may be these setbacks in the poultry industry, the following agricultural commodities have and will continue to do well even in this current year. The citrus industry has increased its volumes and has broken into new markets. This year, we could see another record citrus exports. Moreover, the grain and oilseeds industry has also done well during the year 2020/2021. The current harvesting season is currently underway, and farmers are reporting record yields in various crops.

The contribution of black commercial farmers in our country’s agricultural economy is still low, though they are steadily growing at 11 per cent in the livestock sector. The low levels of inclusion call for serious intervention from both the Government and other stakeholders in driving inclusive growth. Madam Speaker I wish to locate our interventions on the pillars of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan which are the following;-

  • Massive roll out of infrastructure;
  • Massive increase in local production;
  • Employment stimulus to create jobs and livelihoods; and
  • Rapid expansion of our generation capacity.

On the Employment, a stimulus to create jobs and livelihoods, our Department was allocated R1 billion to support 70 000 subsistence farmers whose operations are of the size of a soccer field.  Currently, 53 000 subsistence farmers have been approved. About 1434 unemployed graduates and NARYSEC youth were enrolled to assist in the verification of applicants. A total of 1209 of these young people will continue to do monitoring and evaluation of the program.

The issue of agriculture infrastructure remains important in particular infrastructure that supports local production. Together with the MEC of Agriculture in the Western Cape Province, we will unveil the irrigation infrastructure in Ebenhaezer that will assist the emerging farmers who have benefited from the land claim. We will continue with the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure and consider new irrigation systems that will expand land under irrigation. In areas where water challenges remain a challenge, we will ensure that we support farmers with boreholes and other means of water harvesting. Deputy Minister Dlamini will have detailed information on infrastructure development under rural development.

Massive Increase in local production

In agriculture, this will require a combination of interventions as well as different support systems. Some of these interventions are;

1. Increase land under production. 

This will mean cultivating land that has been given to individuals and communities through our land reform program and those in communal areas.

2. Strengthening our  Extension and advisory services by employing capable individual Officers. 

The importance of extension services in agricultural development cannot be underplayed. In the seminars that I conducted in the nine provinces in April and May 2021, I was able to meet over 2 000 farmers and agribusiness people, and in all these seminars, there was an emphasis on the importance of extension services and the visibility of these officers. As committed by the Minister of Finance, the Department and the provinces have crafted a Strategy on the Employment of Extension Officers, and we will employ 2 447 in this financial year. Noting the importance of regulatory services in addressing biosecurity matters in our provinces, we will employ an additional 50 animal health technicians this year.

3. Collaborating with Private Sector and individuals who are willing to be mentors as well as able to give off take agreements to those who produce.

Honourable Members, such partnerships can work if structured well. This morning I was with Tiger Brand in Nigel, Gauteng where they have been working with Khumo Ea Tsabo in supporting the commercialization of black farmers. About five farmers participating in this program were given 30-year lease by our department. In total, 10 farmers are involved in the aggregate propeller model.

Through this commercialization model, the farmers have access to mechanization, technical support and the market, which is Tiger Brand itself.

Tiger Brands have through this program of smallholder farmer development supported 80 black farmers to a tune of R40 million Rand.

They have committed to work to enrol 100 new black farmers and have challenged the government to collaborate with them in this journey. There are a couple of other private sector companies and individuals Lusanda Moeletsane of Khumo Ea Tsabo who are willing to work with the government in order to leverage our resources in the development of black farmers while we ensure that we give meaningful support to those who are beneficiaries of land reform.

4. Strengthening our agri-financial services to support production remains critical.

Madam Speaker, Land Bank remains and important institution in supporting the agricultural sector and we will do anything possible to secure its future. My department is working closely with National Treasury to work out a sustainable financial model that will ensure that the Bank continues to fulfil its mandate. The Minister of Finance announced in the 2021 February Budget that an amount of R7 billion over the MTEF has been secured to support Land Bank. This allocation will help to resolve the bank’s current default and re-establish the development and transformation mandate. My department will also ensure that additional resources are diverted to the Land Bank. All of these efforts will complement the efforts that are in place to support emerging farmers. Food security is key.

Finalization of the DALRRD-Banking SA Blended Finance Facility

The Department re-launched the Blended Finance Scheme (BFS) in March this year to leverage private funding to support investments that will unlock and enhance agricultural production, agro-processing and comprehensive land acquisition by black producers through deliberate, targeted and well-defined financial and non-financial interventions.  

This approach will enable the Department to collaborate with development financial institutions, private financial institutions and commodity organizations to mainstream the participation of black producers along the agricultural value chains.

5. Agricultural Research

The International Food Policy Research Institute conducted a study and found that:

“Extensive empirical evidence demonstrates that agricultural research and development investments have greatly contributed to economic growth, agricultural development, and poverty reduction in developing regions over the past five decades.”

The Agricultural Research Council will utilize the Parliamentary Grant to focus on the development of scientific solutions, inclusive of the development of new technologies and crop varieties, enhancing the quantity and quality of agricultural produce, devising climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, increasing sustainability, reducing consumer food prices. The ARC will also be training at least 600 NARYSEC participants and continue training young scientists through the Professional Development Program to attain higher degrees such as PhD and MSc to applicable in the sector. Deputy Minister Dlamini will elaborate on the NARYSEC program. 

6. Strengthening our  Climate Change Response and Biosecurity challenges

The impact of climate change and human migration affects the outbreak of pests and diseases. Of late, South Africa had outbreaks of brown locusts, exotic fruit flies, African swine fever and Foot and mouth disease. Putting up early warning systems, rapid response mechanisms and control measures are important for our country to protect production, environment and trade. Relating to the FMD, the ARC has now approved an implementation plan for the design, construction and commissioning of the new Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine production facility. Very soon, we will be breaking ground upon obtaining the necessary municipal approvals. Upon completion, this facility will provide the country with an important tool to combat the outbreak of this disease and accelerate livestock production for adequate market access and trade. We, therefore, urge the ARC to accelerate the process towards the construction.  The Onderstepoort Biological Product will also, as part of improving its service offering in animal health solutions, work towards concluding its construction of the GMP facility.

7. Massive infrastructure Roll out

Agriculture infrastructure is critical both on farm and off farm. With respect to support to farmers working with the provinces, we need to reflect how we assist farmers with fences, boreholes.

Extending land under irrigation will be our priority. Am happy to inform this house that we will be handing over an irrigation infrastructure in Vredendaal with MEC Meyer. This intervention will go some way in enabling production in this area.

In order to have a template of our interventions, the Master plans serve as a mechanism for collaborative planning. Of importance is the agreement on the vision as well as targets to achieve such a vision statement.

The Master Plans

Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan

After recognising different challenges constraining the growth and development of commercial and emerging farmers in the country, the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan (AAMP) had recommended the adoption of a “Theory of Change” to train farmers and grow the agricultural sector in an inclusive manner. The theory advocates for a co-existence of commercial and emerging farmers to promote the agricultural and food sectors on a new growth trajectory that can ultimately contribute to making South Africa’s economy out of the “Middle Income” trap. The conceptual framework for this Master Plan has been concluded, and the sector partners are to meet for consultation in June 2021. This Master Plan is complementary to the Poultry and Sugar Master Plans.

Cannabis Master Plan

The legalisation and commercialisation of Cannabis have been at the forefront of public debate and on top of the agenda of policymakers globally. An inter-departmental team comprising of representatives from various departments was established to guide the development of the National Cannabis Master Plan with DALRRD as the convener. The Cannabis Master Plan is being presented to NEDLAC before the end of May 2021.  The Department will, as of October 2021, begin issuing and monitoring permits for the production of hemp in South Africa.

Market access

The NAMC is currently driving research intelligence and trade and marketing policy advisories, and these are used for market access processes. In the past eleven months, the NAMC has advised the International Trade and Administration Commission (ITAC) on the optimal setting of tariffs, taking into account the impact on consumer prices and local production on poultry, sugar and wheat products. This year, working with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and International Relations and Cooperation, we are devising measures to take full advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement and other multilateral and bilateral opportunities in the field of agricultural trade.

Strengthen governance and proper management of public resources

The process of strengthening governance in the Department and State-Owned Enterprises is proceeding, the new Boards at the Agricultural Research Council and Onderstepoort Biological Products, Perishable Products Export Control Board were put in place in 2020. Cabinet yesterday approved the appointment of the National Marketing Council. We wish to thank all those members who served us before for the work done. The work of these councils are critical in providing strategic direction of the work of the entries as well as provide oversight on behalf of the shareholder.

STRENGTHENING THE ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEM

We have started to advertise in order to fill vacancies in the department following the finalization of the NMOG process. We have identified areas of weakness in the configuration of our newly formed department, which we will be addressing in the fit for purpose structure.

The matter of building the capacity of the State cannot be underestimated. We are examining the qualification of our staff following the announcement that was made by the Minister of Public Service and Administration, particularly at an SMS level. Minister of Public Service and administration issued a circular that instructs all SMS members to populate Personal so that correct data of the qualifications can be properly accounted for. As of this weak, we have noted that within our department we only have five members who are affected.

Building state capacity also means being able to implement consequence management where wrongdoing has occurred. We wish to assure members that we are acting and we will not hesitate to act so that public resources are accounted for and that the conduct of our officials is not questionable by citizens. We need to revive the ethos of Batho Pele once more in order to build a capable administrative system that is responsive to people’s needs.

Budget Allocation for 2021/22

Chairperson, the Department has an allocation of R16.9 billion budget for 2021/2022 financial year. A sizeable portion of this budget is for transfers to Provincial Departments of Agriculture as part of the division of revenue. These allocations relate to-

(a) Ilima/Letsema Conditional Grants – R 597 126 million;

(b) CASP Infrastructure Grant – R1 157 176 billion; and

(c) CASP Extension Services – R310 343 million.

The Commission of Land Restitution will receive a budget of R3, 3bn for 2021/22.

The other transfers are to our agricultural entities, such as the Agricultural Research Council, which received a grant of R1 282 632 billion. The National Agriculture Marketing Council received an amount of R47 305 million, and the Ingonyama Trust received an amount of R23 517 million.

I thank you.

Courtesy: www.gov.za

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Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment on the splitting of squid resource

17 Jun 2021

Squid resource split between small-scale fishing and local commercial sectors

In a historic step forward for transformation of the small-scale fishing sector, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has allocated fifteen percent of the Squid catch to the Small-scale Fisheries sector.  Prior to this decision, the squid was not in the basket of species available to the 15 co-operatives and 600 individual small scale fishermen and women who operate in the areas of the Eastern Cape where squid is harvested.

This apportionment will be reviewed at the beginning of every fishing season with the view of increasing the portion available to the Small-scale Fisheries sector to twenty-five percent of the total allowable effort in this fishery.

The review will be subject to the annual status of squid resource, fishing patterns and fishing practices of new and existing right holders and the needs of coastal communities which are dependent mainly on fishing.

“Across the world, small scale fishermen and women play an important role in promoting household food security and providing livelihoods in areas where there are little other means of support,” said Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Minister, Ms Barbara Creecy.  “In March 2020 the Department allocated fifteen-year rights to fishing co-operatives across the Eastern Cape. The success of these co-operatives depends amongst other issues, on having a commercially viable basket of species.” Said Minister Creecy.

The limited basket of species has been raised repeatedly by small scale fishing co-operatives across the country. Accordingly, in October 2020, Minister Creecy invited interested and affected stakeholders to comment on the proposed resource split between local commercial and small-scale fishing in the Traditional Line fish, Squid and Abalone fishing sectors.

Having considered all the representations for the proposed squid apportionment split between local commercial and small-scale fishing, the Director-General, as the delegated authority in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998, has decided in terms of section 14(2), to apportion fifteen percent (15%) of the Squid Total Allowable Effort to the Small-scale Fisheries sector and 85% of the Squid Total Allowable Effort to the commercial squid sector.  As already explained this apportionment will be reviewed annually with the intention of increasing it to twenty-five percent over the next few years.

Small Scale Fishers in the Eastern Cape have welcomed the announcement and believe that it will enable them to feed their families and look after their communities. Chief Dion Spandel, Chairman of the Eastern Cape Khoisan Small Scale Fishers, applauded the department regarding the decision. “I know that it was not an easy decision for her (Minister Creecy), but it had to be taken. With the 15% that the department has put in our baskets, we can now go to sea and look at buying our own boats, sending our guys to some kind of training. It is really appreciated it,” said Chief Spandel. Andriaan.

The apportionment will take effect from the start of the upcoming squid season. In the coming weeks, the department will be engaging with the commercial and small-scale fishing sectors on how the apportionment will be implemented taking into account compliance with the relevant sector policies and the conditions of fishing in those respective sectors.

The squid sector is lucrative and to ensure optimal management and sustainability, the department will be introducing a Capacity Management Regime in the commercial and small-scale squid sector to better manage fishing effort in the sector in future.

The Record of Decision on the split is available on the link here

Courtesy: www.gov.za

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MEC Ivan Meyer on celebrating Desertification and Drought Day

17 Jun 2021

Protecting and restoring our natural ecosystems will boost our economy

Today, the Western Cape joins the United Nations member states to celebrate Desertification and Drought Day.

“By doing so, we place the spotlight on the state of our land, without which it will be almost impossible to have a productive agricultural sector,” says Western Cape Minister for Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer.

The Western Cape experienced the worst drought in centuries during 2015-2018.

Average rainfall has since returned in wetter regions, but the impacts on agriculture will be felt for several years. In some parts of the arid and semi-arid Karoo and West Coast, the drought persists even though some rainfall this year has brought relief. Drought causes widespread plant mortality, loss of grazing and can lead to soil erosion.

It also causes stock watering points across the landscape to dry up. Livestock farmers were especially hard hit.

According to Climate Change and Risk Assessment Scientist Professor Stephanie Midgley of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s Programme Research and Technology Development Services, the climate experts of the University of Cape Town confirm that the drought was three times more likely because of climate change.

Midgley: “Relentless warming coupled with increasingly variable rainfall will increase the risks of drying soils and vegetation, resulting in land degradation and soil erosion, especially in the rangelands. As a result, more multi-year severe droughts may become part of the future that farmers must plan for. However, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) has a roadmap to mitigate these risks, the SmartAgri Plan.”

Midgley continues: “Two priority projects will contribute directly to building resilience against desertification. Firstly, restored ecological infrastructure for increased landscape productivity, socio-ecological resilience and soil carbon sequestration (focus on more arid areas). Secondly, collaborative, integrated catchment management improves water security and job creation (i.e. clearing invasive alien plants). These and other climate-smart actions are already being implemented.”

Ashia Petersen, Director for the Department’s Programme Sustainable Resource Use and Management, highlights that invasive alien vegetation is a significant threat to land degradation.

Petersen: “By competing with indigenous vegetation, alien vegetation reduces biodiversity and increases soil erosion.”

Meyer says that his Department has invested R21 million in 2020/21 and R29 million in the 2021/22 financial years respectively towards ecological infrastructure to create functioning ecosystems.

Meyer: “As a result, 34 352 ha of invasive alien vegetation was cleared, and 1101 green jobs created.  Clearing the land of invasive alien vegetation prevents soil erosion and the loss of biodiversity.”

Petersen: “Our area-wide ecological planning and fencing in the Koup area of the Central Karoo enable sustainable land-use management practices.  In this area, WCDoA has constructed 110 km of fencing that resulted in positives – both environmentally and economically. The erection of the fences allows for rotational grazing that prevents the degradation of the Karoo veld and has seen lambing percentage increase by 400%.”

The construction of stock-watering systems prevents land degradation and allows for grazing throughout the landscape. Having the systems prevents overgrazing of the veld, and farmers can thus avoid the destruction of the veld, which mitigates the impact of droughts.

In the last ten years, the Western Cape has experienced at least three disasters per year. These include the current drought experienced in the Central and Little Karoo and the northern parts of Matzikamasome. As a result, bi-annual veld assessments are performed to monitor and evaluate the condition of our veld continuously. These assessments form part of our baseline data. In addition, they serve as early warning systems that support our decision-making process in identifying the areas needing drought fodder support and the frequency of fodder support.  Fodder support is critical as it prevents over-grazing of the natural veld and ecological disturbance that could result in land degradation.

Meyer: “As a result, the WCDoA has supported approximately 2658 farmers with a budget of R450 million over the last five years.”

Meyer continues: “Preventing further land degradation requires awareness among our stakeholders.  The WCDoA does this through capacity building interventions such as farmer days and workshops. In addition, our Junior LandCare programme plays a critical role in developing awareness and addressing issues that directly impact healthy ecosystems.”

“Investing in activities that protect and restore natural ecosystems will boost the recovery from Covid-19 for communities and the economy of the Western Cape,” concludes Meyer.

Courtesy: www.gov.za

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Minister Didiza praises Illovo South Africa for life-changing development project

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza has praised the sugar giant Illovo South Africa for the successful culmination of its R127-million life-changing Small-Scale Grower Cane Development Project that has created over 860 sustainable jobs in KwaZulu-Natal while empowering women to participate in the rural economy.

The Minister was visibly pleased after being taken on a site visit on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast to witness first-hand the development of 3 000 hectares of cane on communal land by small-scale growers using a sustainable model of development aligned to the national transformation agenda. With a R63-million grant from the National Treasury’s Job Fund matched by R63-million funding by Illovo Sugar South Africa, 119 local contractors have increased the supply of sugarcane for Illovo’s undersupplied Sezela factory by doubling the original 150 000 tonnes per annum forecast.

“The contribution of black commercial farmers in the country’s agricultural economy was still low and these low levels of inclusion call for serious intervention from both the Government and other stakeholders in driving inclusive growth” said Minister Didiza.

“We need more public-spirited players like Illovo Sugar who are willing to work with government in order to leverage our resources in the commercialisation of black farmers, while we ensure that we give meaningful support to those who are beneficiaries of land reform.”

The Minister added that after recognising different challenges constraining the growth and development of commercial and emerging farmers in the country, the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan (AAMP) had recommended the adoption of a “Theory of Change” to train farmers and grow the agricultural sector in an inclusive manner.

The theory advocates for a co-existence of commercial and emerging farmers to promote the agricultural and food sectors on a new growth trajectory that can ultimately contribute to taking South Africa’s economy out of the “Middle Income” trap.  The conceptual framework for this Master Plan has been concluded, and the sector partners are to meet for consultation in June 2021. This Master Plan is complementary to the Poultry and Sugar Master Plans.

Illovo Sugar MD Mamongae Mahlare said the Small-Scale Grower Cane Development Project is clear validation of the great potential that exists for partnerships between businesses and their host communities on the one hand, and government on the other, to reduce poverty and stimulate economic activity. “We could not have achieved this level of success alone. The confidence of the Jobs Funds which met us halfway with concessional funding, and the support of other stakeholders including the SA Canegrowers Association and the South African Farmers Development Association, have been integral to this revolutionary project.

“The collaborative multi-stakeholder approach to bring a local system of innovation to life in just three years has resulted in 1 704 growers being given the opportunity to develop cane on their land.”

Mahlare said the small-scale grower development project created direct jobs in rural communities while implementing socioeconomic and enterprise development initiatives and the transfer of valuable farming and business skills. By leveraging on the built capabilities and securing a spot in the Illovo Sugar value chain, communities will earn upwards of R80-million in income annually.

“Since the capacity to work the land resides within the communities in the form of the upskilled local contractors, there is a multiplier effect as this new money is spent within the community and is catalytic to broader economic activity,” she added.

Najwa Allie-Edries, head of the Jobs Fund who also attended the celebratory event, said building the capability of smallholder farmers must move beyond the debate about land ownership. The imperative now is to find creative solutions to long-term access to land, while providing appropriate support to build sustainable new-era farmer capability, she said.

“In spite of significant growth potential in the agricultural sector, opportunities and benefits are not widespread. The sector is characterised by a huge capacity gap between commercial and smallholder or emerging farmers, placing the latter in a disadvantageous position in terms of accessing opportunities, markets and value chains.

“Robust and localised agriculture and agro-processing systems are crucial for food security, economic diversification and creating jobs. Hence, more than 30% of the Jobs Fund’s portfolio of projects are implemented within the agricultural sector.

“Developing a sustainable sector means growing both the farm and the farmer and expanding the opportunities available to them. It can’t be one or the other; the same level of effort put into crop development must also be put into the farmer and his or her business.

“Illovo Sugar must be commended for reducing barriers to entry for emerging farmers and addressing challenges that hamper their ability to grow sustainably,” she said.

Nomanesi Ngcobo, a small-scale grower who was developed through the Illovo project told Minister Didiza that she took over her late husband’s role and sugarcane that had been planted years before was no longer growing.

She said: “The project came at a crucial time for us because the eMalangeni area had run out of sugarcane and many growers were struggling. Sugarcane farming is our bread and butter – it allows us to pay for our children’s education.

“This has been a life-changing experience and we are so grateful to Illovo Sugar for empowering us and enriching our lives.

“To be part of the cane grower’s community as a black woman makes me happy, especially having come from an impoverished background,” said Ngcobo.

What is the background of the project?

An under-supply of sugar cane into the South Coast mills necessitated action to be taken to re-establish sugar cane in the Small-Scale Grower areas that were lying fallow and within a close proximity to the affected mills. A sustainable development model was sought to ensure the future cane supply in the SSG areas.

What was the overall aim of the project?

To ensure equitable, inclusive and sustainable growth, leveraging sugarcane as a catalyst for rural development, while ensuring a secure supply to the Illovo mills. To this end, Illovo Sugar SA committed to:

  • Develop contiguous areas of tribal land to sugar cane
  • Develop and empower previously disadvantaged cane growers and contractors
  •  Create employment and contribute to development in the rural areas
  •  Create SMME service providers; and
  • Increase cane supply to the Illovo Sugar mills

What was initiated to address this problem?

In partnership with National Treasury through the Jobs Fund, Illovo Sugar SA initiated a project to develop up to 3 000 hectares of small-scale grower cane land around all the areas within which it operates on the KZN South Coast resulting in the creation of 1 188 new jobs and the training of 1 630 people.

What were some of the challenges to be overcome?

  • How to introduce economic activity on communal land
  • The high cost of entry and lack of suitable, continuous funding
  • Lack of grower and service provider capability

How was funding sourced?

Operating under the Department of Trade & Industry, the Jobs Fund was launched in June 2011 and an amount of R9 billion was set aside. The objective of the Jobs Fund is to co-finance projects by public, private and non-governmental organisations that will significantly contribute to job creation. This involves the use of public money to catalyse innovation and investment on behalf of a range of economic stakeholders in activities that contribute directly to enhanced employment creation in South Africa.

In partnership with the Jobs Fund which provided 50% of the R127-million capital, Illovo launched the project to develop 3,000ha of small-scale grower cane land whilst contributing to stimulating activities in deep rural areas, create sustainable employment for black growers and their families, and provide training opportunities for rural households. Illovo put up 15 % of the capital. The remaining 35% was taken as loans by the growers from MAFISA, with Illovo underwriting the debt. The project has created a thriving small-scale growers project on Ngonyama rust land.

Was the project a success?

Illovo’s Small-Scale Grower Cane Development Project is clear validation of the great potential that exists for partnerships between businesses and their host communities on the one hand, and government on the other, to reduce poverty and stimulate economic activity. The collaborative multi-stakeholder approach to bring a local system of innovation to life in just three years has resulted in 1 704 growers being given the opportunity to develop cane on their land.”

What are the outcomes of the project?

The Small-Scale Grower Cane Development Project has created direct jobs in rural communities while implementing socioeconomic and enterprise development initiatives and the transfer of valuable farming and business skills. By leveraging on the built capabilities and securing a spot in the Illovo Sugar value chain, communities will earn upwards of R80-million in income annually. Since the capacity to work the land resides within the communities in the form of the upskilled local contractors, there is a multiplier effect as this new money is spent within the community and is catalytic to broader economic activity.

Purpose of lllovo’s celebratory event

The event is planned to relate Illovo SA’s successes in contributing towards creating thriving rural communities through revealing how the joint programme has and can further act as a blue print for small-scale cane grower development in KZN as well as help other regions and sectors build thriving communities through similarly structured public and private partnerships.

What progress has Illovo made on land redistribution?

To date, Illovo’s own land redistribution initiative has resulted in the sale of 28 086 ha, comprising 55% of its own land portfolio, to black people and resulting in the establishment of more than 50 black commercial farmers.

Cite an example of a successful small-cane grower

Nomanesi Ngcobo took over her late husband’s role and sugarcane that had been planted years before was no longer growing. She said: “The project came at a crucial time for us because the eMalangeni area had run out of sugarcane and many growers were struggling. Sugarcane farming is our bread and butter – it allows us to pay for our children’s education. This has been a life-changing experience and we are so grateful to Illovo Sugar for empowering us and enriching our lives.”

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Deputy Minister S’dumo Dlamini: Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform Dept Budget Vote 2021/22

13 May 2021

Today as we present this budget, we want to pay tribute to all the families who have lost their loved ones as a result of  Covid-19 and we also want to salute health workers and people living in rural communities who had to  face and fight  the Coronavirus under conditions in which there were fewer health resources.

It has been inspiring to observe how despite these challenges, some rural communities have worked in partnership with government, private sector, non-governmental organisations and traditional leaders to spread the correct healthcare-related messages in relation to this pandemic.

This is what rural development should be about. Rural Development is a sustained multi-sectoral participatory process aimed at empowering those residing in the former homeland areas, in farming areas, in defined rural spaces within urban areas and metros, in peri-urban areas, in small rural towns and in villages.

It is about government intervening at all levels to ensure a people-driven and people-centered process of building sustainable communities through agricultural and non-agricultural interventions to achieve productive, healthy, economically vibrant, socially cohesive, equitable and sustainable spaces and livelihoods based on the unique conditions and attributes of the people’s material conditions and self-articulated needs. This is what this budget is about today!

National Integrated Rural Development Strategy

According to Statsa, the provinces with the highest headcount of adult poverty are Limpopo (67,5%), Eastern Cape (67,3%), KwaZulu-Natal (60,7%) and North West (59,6%). For these four provinces, significantly more than half of their population was living in poverty. It also says that almost two-thirds of agricultural households are in KZN (24,4%), EC (20,7%) and Limpopo P (16,3%) combined.  It is, for this reason, the implementation of our National Integrated Rural Development Strategy will pay special attention to these provinces without downplaying the required intervention for rural development in other provinces.

This year we will be visiting our provinces not to ask what our people want because they have told us what they want since 1994. We are going there to work with them towards ensuring rural development on their own terms.

As the department, we are currently adopting an intergovernmental approach and we are re-strategising on how to optimally utilise existing government programmes and other funding to unlock economic opportunities in the various rural districts.

We have recently tested this approach when we had an interdepartmental collaborative intervention program in Eastern at Steynsburg and in a few months from now we will be working with young people on the Narysec programme, in ICT projects, work to support cooperatives in various projects which include poultry, piggery,  the bakery project, water harvesting and we will be providing sewing machines and agricultural tools and implements including other different forms of support.

The revised National Integrated Rural Development Strategy considers the central thrusts proposed in Chapter 6 of the National Development Plan, which includes the following:

  1. Capitalising on agriculture as one of the main economic drivers of the rural economy through the Agriculture and Agro-Processing Master Plan (AAMP);
  2. Making land reform work through improved rural governance systems, improved land administration; land access for further economic opportunities, proper beneficiary selection processes utilising existing rural and farming networks and improvement in the living conditions and rights of farm dwellers and other rural citizens;
  3. Developing non-agricultural activities with key sectors including technology, mining and tourism;
  4. Building human capital, social security, food security and basic services;
  5. Revitalising rural towns; and Improved rural governance.

Part of the practical work we will undertake as part of our Rural Development strategy will include :

  1. Linking emerging rural producers (especially women and youth) of farm and non-farm products to markets and appropriate value chains through the  Agriculture and Agro-Processing Master Plan (AAMP) and the implementation of Farmer Production Support Units;
  2. Facilitating business development services for rural enterprises through programmes such as the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP); and
  3. Assisting rural women, people with disabilities and youth through targeted capacity building and enterprise development support and actively promoting a procurement policy that favours women and youth.

In the last financial  year, several consultations have taken place within government, through the South African Local Government Association network and via a multi-stakeholder policy platform coordinated by civil society on how to effectively implement these objectives over the MTSF period and beyond in support of Vision 2030.

We have conducted our studies , consulted our people both from inside and outside of government , it is now time for testing our policies and strategies in the court of real life.

Work undertaken in the 2020/2021 Financial year.

1. Farmer Production Support and Rural Infrastructure

Honourable Speaker, in the last financial year we committed to support 15 farmer production support centres with the necessary infrastructure to make them functional. We are pleased to announce that we have supported:

  1. One project in the Eastern Cape in Zanyokhwe;  
  2. Three in the Free State namely in Odendaalrus, Springfontein and Kroonstad;
  3. Four in KZN in Pomoroy, Malenge, Mkhuphula and Hluhluwe;
  4. Two in Limpopo Vleischboom and Masalal, three in Mpumalanga at Sybrandskraal, Mkhuhlu and Kameelrivier;
  5. one in Taung in the North West and with irrigation infrastructure at Ebenheser in the Western Cape.
  6. A total of 64 infrastructure projects to support production and other socio-economic infrastructure we implemented.

2. NARYSEC work

The department created 800 rural jobs and provided skills development opportunities to 1 926 NARYSEC Youth through the District Development Model.

3. Flagship socio-economic projects

  1. One of our flagship socio-economic projects is Die Poort Primary School Development. The programme was aimed at constructing a proper learning facility in the Hekpoort area, Gauteng and was hatched to merge the two primary schools within the area. The learners from the FJ Kloppers Primary School moved to Die Poort Primary Farm School. The Department in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Education was able to provide 16 classrooms, an administration block, Grade R facility, male and female ablution blocks, a caretaker house and a combination court.
  2. Another socio-economic project was the construction of houses and basic services using alternative building technology for the relocation of evicted farm dwellers in Donkerhoek, Mpumalanga. This led to the utilisation of off-grid energy solutions and solar geysers, an off-grid sanitation solution, water supply and reticulation as well as a 4km gravel access road.
  3. The Department in partnership with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) implemented the Mt Fletcher Spring Water Harvesting, Protection, Development, and Reticulation project between March 2017 and July 2020 in the Fairview villages of the Joe Gqabi District Municipality in the Eastern Cape. Local labourers were also contracted from the three targeted villages in the district and skilled by the service provider. Due to standpipes that are now closer to their homes, women and children do not have to walk far to collect water, which saves time for other activities.
  4. The department is also contributing towards the implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative (PESI) in which 1434 former NARYSEC youth and agricultural graduates were employed on a three-month contract to assist farmers with applications for the PESI funding as part of the Covid-19 interventions by the department.

Programme for the 2021 /2022 Financial Year

For the 2021/2022 financial year we plan to undertake the following programs :

1. Farmer Production Support Units
  1. We plan to further support 25 projects that would lead to functional FPSUs. From these functional FPSUs rural households and villages in general will be able to obtain a wide variety of support to improve their productivity including mechanization (tractors), implements, inputs (seeds and fertilizers) and storage facilities etc.
  2. This includes the renovation of livestock auction facilities at Kwafene in the Thembisile Hani Local Municipality at Nkangala, Mpumalanga province.
2. Rural infrastructure
  1. We will implement a further 50 infrastructure projects to support production and six socio-economic infrastructure projects continuing from the Die Poort Primary School Development project mentioned above.  A total of 500 jobs are projected to be created in such rural development initiatives and this speaks to our revised strategy of optimising intergovernmental resources.
3. Access to reliable and good quality water
  1. We will continue from where we ended in the Mt Fletcher Spring Water Harvesting, Protection, Development, and Reticulation project and in this financial year there will be an additional 5 innovative technology research projects which will be implemented.   
4. NARYSEC
  • In the 2021/22 financial year, the National Rural Youth Services Corps (NARYSEC) programme will shift gear to place a greater emphasis on recruiting and skilling youth for workplace opportunities within and outside government, entrepreneurship and further education and skills opportunities as part of a basket of services offered to the youth exiting the programme. This change will position NARYSEC Programme to better contribute in dealing with the challenge of high youth unemployment.
  • To this end, the programme has now committed to training 1409 youth across all 9 provinces and budget of R62.4 million has been allocated in this financial year. This youth was recruited during the 2019 and 2020 financial years, but due to Covid-19 the training programmes have been delayed. In addition, the following initiatives are underway:
  • 188 NARYSEC youth will be trained as traffic ffficers in Mpumalanga and the Free State respectively. The intention is for the youth to be absorbed by their local municipalities and these municipalities have already signed commitment letters for employment of these youth upon the successful completion of the training;
  • 93 NARYSEC youth from EC, GP, NC and WC are currently undergoing training with Clicks Pharmacy Group. These youth have been absorbed by the company which is a successful private-public partnership initiative;
  • 98 (73 EC and 25 KZN) youth recruited as part of piloting the District Development Model (DDM) will be trained in Environmental Waste Management Qualification. The King Sabata Dalindyebo District Municipality has provided business opportunities for these youth and they will be absorbed in their waste management unit. The KZN youth will also provide similar services to the eThekwini Municipality. This means that 98 young people from the rural areas will have an opportunity to pursue their small enterprises leading to further socio-economic spin-offs.
5. Presidential stimulus initiative

In contributing to the second phase of the Presidential Stimulus Initiative project the department has extended the contracts of 1209 PESI verifiers for another 12 months (1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022) with a budget of R64 293 072,48 which will go towards paying stipends and allowances.

6. Improving spatial planning in rural areas

Honourable Speaker and members, rural development without ensuring spatial transformation will be equal to maintaining Bantustans and our approach to rural development is linked to ensuring spatial justice.  

You are acutely aware that the Department as the custodian of the Spatial Planning and Land Use management Act 16 of 2013 (SPLUMA) has embarked on various programmes, initiatives and activities towards its implementation.  Significant progress has been made and the Department continues to support municipalities in undertaking their responsibilities in terms of the Act.

The NSDF is currently being finalised and will be presented to Cabinet for consideration in the first half of the year. The current Medium-Term Strategic Framework emphasises the need for spatial integration through Priority 5 focussing on Spatial Integration. 

To address the Spatial inefficiencies and to promote Spatial Transformation, the Department, in partnership with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, had developed the Draft National Spatial Development Framework (NSDF) which has gone through the extensive consultation as per the requirements of the National Development Plan and the SPLUMA. 

The Draft National Spatial Development Framework National Spatial Development Framework ( NSDF)  has provided a national spatial schema to inform, direct, prioritize and guide all future infrastructure investment and development spending decisions by government, civil society and the private sector; to optimise place-based potentials and spatial interdependencies, and to realize the 2050-National Spatial Development Framework Vision.

Spatial planning remains key in guiding Departmental programmes and to further ensure that these are integrated into municipal Integrated Development Plans and the One Plan process as an outcome of the District Development Model approach being implemented by government.

Initiatives of spatial planning support for land reform include amongst others the implementation of a Strategically Located Land tool which encompasses a myriad of existing spatial planning tools and systems that assist the Department in identifying where Land Reform initiatives should be targeted.  

The Department is also on a clear path to improve the quality of life and economic well-being of communities living in rural areas.

Employing a broad array of geospatial data provided for through the implementation of the Spatial Data Infrastructure Act, the department is performing innovative geospatial analysis, simulation and modelling to formulate spatially balanced and efficient rural development plans that contribute towards accomplishing a low carbon and climate-resilient rural economy.

In consultation with Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, the department is also compiling Climate Change Response Plans for the Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development sector.

Conclusion

We want to take this opportunity to announce to our people in the rural areas that this department cares for you. We want to see and hear every village and every rural community including everyone in South Africa talking about rural development. The real test will be in what we do to transform the rural economy and build sustainable rural communities.

Courtesy: www.gov.za

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Minister Thoko Didiza: South African Bee Industry Organisation Honey Fraud Workshop

20 May 2021

Opening Statement by Minister at the SABIO Honey Fraud Workshop

It is my singular honour and privilege that I participate in your workshop today. This workshop is taking place at a time when we are all anxious about the rising numbers of Covid-19 nationally. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted both our economic and social life. Given the current situation, we will have to find ways in which we need to learn to live with this virus. In doing so we will have to continue using the nonpharmaceutical protocols as directed by our Ministry of Health. We also want to encourage those above 60 years of age to register for vaccination.  
 
It is important to appreciate what our government did in allowing that the agricultural sector should continue to operate even during the intense lockdown level 5. 
 
I still remember how we had to ensure that the regulations should allow the beekeepers and their workers to operate. This was critical given that beekeeping is part of the agricultural sector. Secondly, the demand for honey was on the increase.  
 
This is good news for the industry, however, it also spells trouble where scrupulous players commit various cases of fraud by introducing in the market products that do not meet the standards. 
 
It is therefore important to have a workshop such as the one we are having to examine and reflect on what is happening in this industry. 
 
Importantly this workshop is taking place during World Bee Day. 

Jose Graziano da Silva in highlighting the World Bee Day has this to say “World Bee Day presents an opportunity to recognise the role of beekeeping, bees and other pollinators in increasing food security, improving nutrition and fighting hunger as well as in providing key ecosystem services for agriculture.” 
 
Food and Agriculture Organisation highlight some facts and figures on the importance of this industry:
 
1. Three out of four crops across the globe producing fruits or seeds for human use as food depend, at least in part, on pollinators 
 
2. Improving pollinator’s density and diversity boosts crop yields pollinators affect 35% of global agricultural land supporting the production of 87 of leading food crops worldwide. 
 .
3. Pollinator-dependent food products contribute to healthy diets and nutrition. 
 
4. Safeguarding bees safeguards biodiversity: the vast majority of pollinators are wild including over 20 000 species of bees. 
 
Chairperson, these facts about the role of pollination and pollinators are critical in understanding the role the beekeeping industry plays in the entire value chain. 
 
It is also important that the importance of inaction also speaks to the importance of pollinators which are bees, birds, bats and many more. Ensuring that these pollinators continue to thrive requires a serious discussion about managing our biodiversity well.  
 
Other issues we need to reflect on is climate change and its impact on the pollinators such as bees. Can this call for the conservation of these pollinators as the debate is happening in other jurisdictions?  
 
The changing nature of agricultural practices might also pose a threat to our pollinators. 
 
These are issues that I think as an industry we need to start to deliberate on. 
 
I have spoken a bit about our pollinators.  But the sweetest product they produce is equally important for human life. Yes, they make life sweet. Honey is used in a number of food products, but it also contains many other useful and beneficial substances. Some of these have been used for time immemorial by our people. 
 
In the modern days, honey is used as a sweetener and serves as an alternative to cane sugar. It is also used in a number of beverages and other food items. 
 
So, we need to know what genuine honey is and what is not? This is important to address issues of mislabeling and fraud. At a government level, we have amended the Agriculture Products Standards Act in order to improve our regulatory framework. This will also enable us to examine claims that are at times made by producers or processors on what is actually used in the production process which makes people make claims about their foodstuff. 
 

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Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha: Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Dept Budget Vote 2021/22

13 May 2021

The month of May is recognised as Worker’s month globally. In our country, it’s also significant for another reason, on 10 May 1994 it was the inauguration of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela as the first President of the democratic government of South Africa.

On 08 May 1996 the Constitution was adopted by the Constitutional Assembly. Who can ever forget that occasion when former Deputy President then, Thabo Mbeki, delivered that seminal speech – “I am an African”?

Chairperson, whenever we discuss land reform or embark on activities that restore the rights to land, to previously dispossessed persons, we move from a point of departure which recognises that an injustice was committed against the indigenous majority and that our decisions and action should be deliberately and unapologetically designed to undo that situation.

We should not allow anyone, or any organisation to try twist the truth by attempting to make us feel bad for demanding what rightfully belongs to us.

During the Title Deed Handover ceremony to the community of Covie, Plettenberg Bay, I reminded the gathering about how, what His Excellency President Ramaphosa characterised as the “original sin” was committed, how land and livestock were brutally and forcefully taken away from the rightful owners as I narrated how Paul Kruger captures one battle in his Memoirs.

What we are doing is called justice,

What we are doing is restoring the dignity of the majority of South Africans, when such dignity is restored, we are sure we can find peace.

As former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela reflected;

“returning land, which translates to wealth, back to the dispossessed majority, is an important task because it is one way of addressing the injustices of apartheid.”

All communities whose rights to their land have been restored through the Title Deeds Handover events recently we say to them, that is your land, enjoy the benefits that come with being landowners.

You now enjoy what is called security of tenure and keep it that way for generations to come.

Land Redistribution

Cabinet in December 2020 approved the Beneficiary Selection and Land Allocation Policy which is aimed at expediting the land allocation process which prioritizes women, youth, and persons with disabilities. The participation and protection of these vulnerable groups across the value GAaifl of our economy is critical. This Policy is already in the implementation phase within the various programmes of the Department.

In the 2020/21 financial year, the Department acquired 22 366 hectares of land for agricultural purposes. These included land for livestock, fruits, crops, forestry and game.

We have already allocated 16 198 hectares to deserving women and youth with most of these hectares, 11 866 hectares allocated to the youth. This allocation, supported by post settlement interventions will ensure transformation and sustainability of the sector, and importantly address the challenge of aging commercial farmers in our sector.

We are emboldened by the new developments and we will continue on this  trajectory, as we empower our communities albeit with reduced resources as there have been budget cuts to address the pandemic as we move towards economic reconstruction and recovery of our economy.

This financial year, the budget for Land Acquisition is R175-million and our plan is to acquire 33 720 hectares of land with this budget and through reprioritisation within the Pro-active Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS).

Tenure Reform

The Land Tenure reform programme is key in achieving the Constitutional promise entrenched in section 25(6) of the Constitution of the Republic.

“A person or community whose tenure to land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory  laws or practices is entitled, to the extent provided by an Act of Parliament, either to tenure which is legally secure or to comparable redress”

Farm workers, farm dwellers and labour tenants

The Land Reform (Land Tenants) Act No. 3 of 1996 (LTA) seeks to secure the tenure rights of labour tenants and former labour tenants, including by regulating their tenure and prohibiting illegal evictions.

Wherever, farm dwellers, farm workers, labour tenants and women have limited and vulnerable land rights, it is our responsibility as this department in conjunction with other departments such as Employment and Labour to take steps to correct such instances.

Although the provisions of The Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA) have been strengthened we continue to receive reports of attempts to undermine this legislation.

The need for land in these areas varies and includes land for residence, land for cultivation, rituals, burial, and grazing of livestock. When these rights are not protected it may give rise to conflicts.

In giving effect to the provisions of the constitutional and the legislative mandate, the Department has prioritized the settlement of outstanding labour tenant claims. The Land Claims Court appointed the Special Master on Labour Tenants to work with the Department on expediting the settlement of these labour tenants’ claims.

The Department received 20 325 applications in seven (7) Provinces with the majority of claims emanating from KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. To date, a total of 10 992 claims have been finalized, with 9 333 claims still outstanding. Working with the office of the Special Master, a Labour tenant implementation plan has been developed and approved by the Land Claims Court to address this injustice of the past.

During the past of 2020/21 financial year, a total of 200 labour tenants’ applications were finalized and the Department managed to acquire 7 128 hectares for labour tenants and farm dwellers to provide long term security of tenure to these groups of persons.

For the 2021/2022 financial year, the Department has set aside a budget R244 million for the acquisition  of land for Labour Tenants and farm dwellers, as well as to honour cases settled through court orders. This budget will be used to acquire 6150 hectares. The Department in conjunction with Office of the Special Master on Labour Tenants have targeted to finalise 1500 labour tenants claims in current financial year.

In recognising the multiplicity of challenges faced by farm workers, farm dwellers and labour tenants, the Department, working with Department of Justice and Legal Aid SA will continue to provide legal support and mediation services to persons facing unlawful evictions on farms.

Transformation of Certain Rural Areas Act (TRANCRAA)

Chairperson, the expeditious transfer of the 23 rural  areas as administered by the Transformation of Certain Rural Areas Act of 1998, is continuing apace. These areas previously classified as coloured reserves are in four provinces in South Africa. The land in these areas is held in trust for the respective communities.

The process of transferring this land in consultation with the affected communities and municipalities is advancing at a faster pace. In the past financial year, we have transferred Haarlem, Mamre and the biggest portion of Ebenhaeser. We are currently busy with transfer documents for Kranshoek, Zoar and Slangrivier as part of the 11 areas to be finalised in this financial year. The other remaining areas are at an advanced stage of implementation and all transfers will be completed in the 2022/23 financial year.

Communal  Land Tenure

Communal land tenure remains a key component of Land Tenure Reform. Communal areas are home to approximately 17 million people. The people living in communal areas mostly hold informal land tenure rights that are not recorded due to the collapse of land administration in the former homelands and other rural spaces.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Agriculture and Land Reform is guiding on processes in this most important and sensitive area. Our Department, working with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional  Affairs, the Department of Justice  is embarking on a consultation process with all stakeholders, including Traditional Leadership organisations and communities. The consultations will culminate in a National Land Summit, to be convened in September 2021.

Rural Safety

One of the significant threats to food security and livelihoods of our people in rural and farming areas is rural safety. Our country has recently experienced various challenges including high levels of criminality and human rights violations. Incidents reported to law enforcement authorities include murder, public violence and damage to property, racism, land invasion, unlawful eviction and stock theft.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Agriculture and Land Reform lead by the Honourable Deputy President, has established a Task Team consisting of Department of Agriculture, Land reform and Rural Development, South African Police Service, Department of Human Settlement, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and SALGA to develop an integrated rapid response strategy. This plan with intervention measures has since been approved by the IMC. These interventions will open dialogue amongst various role players and stakeholders, including farmer’s associations and farm dwellers to curb these conflicts, evictions, farm murders and bring peace and stability in these areas.

We also continue to support the Rural Safety Plan led by the Ministry of Police.

Community Property Associations (CPAs)

The Department is grappling with the challenges facing Communal Property institutions. We will continue to ensure the CPAs are capacitated and supported to be compliant with the Act, within the means available to us. The Department will also embark on an Audit of all CPAs over a period of two years starting in this financial year, with a view to review the models of land holding for Land reform.

Currently, more than 1 500 CPAs have been established and registered nationally. In the past financial year, I mentioned that we are going to support 477 CPAs however due to difficult circumstances due to COVID-19, we were able to support 436 CPAs. In this financial year we intend to support 577 CPAs to be compliant with the Act and to strengthen oversight.

National Spatial Development Framework

Chapter 8 of the National Development Plan calls for preparation of a ‘National Spatial Development Framework (NDSF)’ which is to be reviewed every 5 years. The IMC on Land and Agriculture is currently reviewing the NSDF, with a target of framing and coordinating provincial, regional and municipal Spatial Development Frameworks. This approach will ensure that there is guidance in planning, budgeting and implementation across spheres and between sectors of government.

Land Reform Bills

We are pleased that the ULTRA Amendment Bill has been approved by the NCOP and on the other hand, the Communal Land Tenure Bill has also reached the stage of  Public Consultations. Furthermore, we are processing the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill, through the clusters of government with the aim of improving and enhancing the application and implementation of the current Act.

Restitution

The Commission had an original budget of R3, 6 bn which was reduced to R3.3 billion for 2021.22 financial year after a reprioritization process by National Treasury.

In view of the over 8 000 claims remaining to be settled and finalized (excluding the new order claims), the MTEF allocations remain woefully inadequate. There is a need for increased budgetary allocations, especially considering that the remaining claims are mainly rural and more complex

The Commission is projecting to settle 240 claims and finalise 316 claims in 2021/22.

With budget allowing, the Commission is projecting to increase the settlement of claims significantly with 558 and 549 claims being settled in 2022/23 and 2023/24 respectively.

While the Commission has met its 2020/21 annual performance targets in respect of settlement and Finalised claims, performance on the settlement of claims is, and will be adversely affected by the reductions in the budget of the Commission – Impacting negatively the settlement and finalisation of claims.

We are working with the Auditor General’s office to establish restitution as a separate entity as prescribed by the Act, with its own APP and financial statements, the technical task team has been established that will take the process forward and ensure that the commission becomes autonomous , consultation with various stakeholders have started , the draft business case is in place and the research strategy was developed.

Office of the Valuer General (OVG)

This office continues to capacitate it’s different business units in order to deliver on the set targets. Key senior management posts have been attended to as well as the appointment of ten valuers.

For 2021/22 the budget allocation is R131 844 000.

We intend to eliminate the valuation backlog completely in 2021/22 financial year.

An Enterprise Resource Planning Solution (IT System) will be implemented.

In the past financial year the Minister has established a Ministerial Advisory Committee to review the Property Valuation Act (Act 17 of 2014) and the team has produced a report for consideration by the Minister.

Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB)

The lngonyama Trust Act vested 2.8 million hectares of communal land to the lngonyama Trust Board (ITB), the ITB accounts to the department and to parliament. We are assisting the ITB to address its operational and cooperate governance challenges.

We want to see a situation where there is stability in the senior management.

Conclusion

The road will not be easy, we will encounter challenges, but we will overcome them and move on in making sure that south Africans have access to land.

UMHLABA MAWUBUYELE  EBANTWINI    !!!

I thank you

Courtesy: www.gov.za

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Western Cape Agriculture assists farmers in drought-stricken areas

11 May 2021

Farmers in drought stricken area receive fodder support

One thousand one hundred and fifteen farmers located in critical and extremely critical drought-stricken areas eligible for drought relief received fodder support in April 2021, to the value of R12.2 million.

According to the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Ivan Meyer,  based on the latest bi-annual veld assessment completed in March 2021, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture has categorised the veld as critical or extremely critical in parts of the Central Karoo, Garden Route and West Coast Districts.

Meyer: “The veld conditions in many parts of the Central Karoo have deteriorated.  The veld in Little Karoo is currently in an arid condition, with critically dry areas. Conditions in the Matzikama Local Municipality have not changed much since the 2020 assessment. The area is still in extremely critical condition. The veld condition in the Mossel Bay and Hessequa Local Municipalities is currently in a dry condition having received below-average rainfall.”

Meyer highlights that it will need at least three years of above-average rainfall for the veld to recover from the devastating drought.

“In the interim, we encourage farmers to adopt sustainable farming practices. Further support is provided by offering workshops to assist farmers in introducing disaster risk reduction methodologies and practices on their farms.  By doing so, we prepare farmers for future disaster episodes impacted by climate change,” concludes Meyer.

courtesy: www.gov.za

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