NATIONAL ASSEMBLY THURSDAY, 13 MAY 16:30 – 18:15 MINI-PLENARIES (VIRTUAL) 3. Vote 29: Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development  [Hon. Inkosi Cebekhulu]

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, LAND REFORM AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT ON THE 2021/22 ANNUAL PERFORMANCE PLANS AND THE BUDGET OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, LAND REFORM AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND ITS ENTITIES, VOTE 29, DATED 11 MAY 2021.

Honourable Members, now, more than ever, our Government needs to carefully consider prevention programmes to protect humans, animals, and agriculture against the spreading of pests, infectious diseases and other harmful substances. It has been reported that our country currently faces four active avian flu outbreaks and it was reported at the end of end of March this year that over 2 000 pigs at a farm in Northwest died of African Swine Fever. 

The stark reality is that outbreaks such as the African Swine Fever – which to date has no vaccine and is highly contagious – not only have a major economic impact on our export industry but also hold dire consequences for smallholder farmers. The only solution we have is to ensure proper biosecurity measures are implemented, to minimise the risk. It is therefore alarming that only R3.3 million has been allocated by the Department to the biosecurity Sub-programme. This meagre allocation clearly shows the Government’s lack of commitment to minimise the risk of such outbreaks. 

The IFP strongly supports the Committee’s recommendation that the Biosecurity Sub-programme be strengthened and that the Department should develop a functional alert system to promote a proactive response to disease outbreaks. The IFP will carefully monitor feedback on this recommendation, as the cost of a weak Biosecurity Programme could cost our country dearly.

On further analysis of the Committee’s Report, the IFP fully supports the Committee’s recommendation that comprehensive progress reports on the Land Development Support Programme should be submitted to Parliament. The IFP has always maintained that the failure to ensure comprehensive post-settlement support, coupled with corruption, has greatly jeopardised the land reform project. This has been one of the greatest tragedies of land reform. The IFP also supports the Committee’s recommendation that the Department should ensure that proper service level agreements and accountability frameworks are in place with all partner organisations in the implementation of the Land Development Support Programme, in specific.

Honourable Members, the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly impacted food security across the globe. Although the Minister of Agriculture has maintained, in response to written questions, that South Africa has “ample maize to meet the demand in the human and feed market”, we echo the Committee’s concern regarding the stagnant budgetary growth in the Food Security programme. The stark reality is that access to food, in light of the massive economic strain our people are experiencing, justifies the Committee’s recommendation that the Department’s contribution to implementing the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security should be strengthened. 

In conclusion, Honourable Members, this Department fulfils a critical mandate. In fulfilling its constitutional duty, we need to be vigilant as to how this Department is enforcing accountability and ensuring resources are properly managed. The IFP will closely monitor feedback on the Committee’s recommendations.

The IFP supports the Committee’s Report.