You are a Chair. My apologies. Chair, it is against this background that we wish newly appointed Minister Zokwana and his Deputy Minister, Bheki Cele, the best of luck with their new challenging roles in the agricultural domain.
The Western Cape will continue to play its role in the national agricultural economy, currently representing 22% of the national agricultural output. We will work hard to create the enabling environment for job creation and investment in this sector.
We will continue to support our new empowerment farmers. The Western Cape is proud of the fact that 62% of the agricultural empowerment projects have been classified as sustainable by a recent independent audit. We want to share our implementation models and strategies with other provinces and also with Minister Zokwana.
We need successful land reform in order for South Africa to prosper as a united and stable country. We are concerned about Minister Nkwinti's proposals in the current Green Paper on Land Reform, where commercial farmers are forced into 50/50 partnerships with workers, without compensation. We are very concerned about all aspects of this proposal, which has also raised alarm bells with a wide range of role-players in the agricultural sector, including black farmers' associations.
Land reform can be successful if it is done in partnership with all the stakeholders involved. Unlike the ANC, the DA does not view land reform as a zero-sum game, where you take from white and give to black. This approach is a blunt tool which focuses only on hectares transferred, ignoring the realities of the vast differences between, say, land in the Karoo, where you need thousands of hectares to farm sustainably, and fertile irrigation land, where a few hectares can sustain an intensive farming enterprise.
We cannot afford to view land reform only in a historic context, without paying attention to the future implications of our policies. We see land reform as an opportunity to empower previously disadvantaged rural communities. We want to see a reduction in rural poverty, and we want to see land being used to improve livelihoods. But there is also a wider context. South Africa is experiencing high levels of urbanisation, and this trend is unlikely to change. We need to ask: What are we doing for our urban population in terms of land reform?
I believe productive agricultural land should remain productive, and land reform models with a successful track record should also be used in this regard. This includes joint ventures between beneficiaries and experienced practitioners, co-operatives, contract farming and equity share schemes.
In June 2009, the national Department of Rural Development and Land Reform imposed a moratorium on share schemes, and although the moratorium was subsequently lifted, no further schemes have been financed by government. There are essentially 81 active schemes in the Western Cape, and we know of 5 schemes that have failed. These schemes are popular and successful for a number of reasons. Firstly, the beneficiaries are in most cases current employees in the original businesses. There is thus an established trust relationship between the original business owner and the new partners.
Secondly, the beneficiaries are people with proven track records in the specific business enterprise. Thirdly, in many cases, government's contribution was used to expand the existing business, which improved the sustainability of the enterprise. It allowed for the creation of new opportunities, and in the process, the agricultural sector was allowed to grow, instead of being fragmented into many smaller and unsustainable units.
Fourthly, the beneficiaries have a safety net in the track record and business acumen of their partner. In most cases, the beneficiaries stay employed in the enterprise, so they do not have to risk current job security for a risky and unknown venture. Lastly, it is in all the parties' interests for the venture to be profitable, as the original business owner has also invested capital in the new venture.
We do not agree with the current state of affairs, where the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform buys land, but does not transfer ownership to beneficiaries. Government should not be accumulating productive land. Beneficiaries need ownership of the land in order to qualify for private sector operational capital. It is our experience in the Western Cape that the refusal to transfer ownership is the one critical stumbling block holding back otherwise successful new farmers.
We cannot shy away from the situation in the former homelands, where approximately 21 million people are living on more than 17 million hectares of communal land. Transferring ownership to these citizens will unleash entrepreneurial potential and create opportunities. My view of land reform is that each policy decision in this regard should be tested against this one critical question: Are we improving livelihoods of previously disadvantaged people?
I want to conclude by asking the Ministers of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Rural Development and Land Reform to foster closer working ties than has been the case in the previous administration. Please work together for the sake of South Africa and her children. I thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES: Chairperson, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, colleagues, chairpersons of portfolio committees and select committees, I am getting more and more scared of these biblical politics that says those that have must keep it as it is and those that take from those that do not keep that too.
The last speaker simply said, stay in Bantustans and don't come here. The figure she speaks about is about 17 million, which used to be Bantustans. She does not talk about 82 million hectares that are owned by 35 000 people. Somebody must help us. We are asking: How do you deal with those figures? Eighty-two million hectares are almost the whole of South Africa. Those who know statistics say it is 70% of South African land, which is owned by 35 000 people. It cannot be that way. They must really help us and tell us how they begin to work with this terrible arithmetic.
It is in this light that I want to suggest that poverty reduction and increase in employment will not happen without agriculture, more specifically without a growing smallholder sector. Again, it is resistance that keeps a smallholder farmer there, preventing them from growing, so that they do not obtain commercial land - it is a matter of stay there and eat there. We need to make sure that we put them where they can grow and open up more space for everybody to come in.
These 1 million jobs will come when we open up the space, but we are being terrorised here by some saying there would be chaos. What chaos would there be if we begin to work this land? [Interjections.]
These figures are forever left in the way; they are never explained. Somebody spoke about ownership of farms that have moved to 29, but what they do not say is that more of them have been accumulated by those who have owned other farms before. These farms are not going into new hands; they are staying in old hands. And as they accumulate these farms, getting smaller in number and farms bigger in size, they shed jobs; they do not increase jobs. You buy these farms, you mechanise them and you shed the warm bodies, and then you talk about the jobs under the new scheme.
These figures have been reduced since 1950. There was no land reform then. There was no new government in 1950. Some of us, like me, have not been born in 1950, but these jobs were shed from that time until this point.
So people must really help us. While the production market has increased, the jobs have been shed. It is therefore important that we talk about these things.
For the jobs to increase, hon members, we have to make sure that we mobilise South Africans, especially the youth, because we will not be able to increase jobs if we do not bring the youth on board. But where is the youth and what do they think of these matters? [Interjections.]
You must remember it is still less than 82 million hectares that are privately owned and remember that the implementation of the National Development Plan, NDP, will only happen with proper mobilisation to achieve these 1 million jobs; to make sure that there is food security and that we increase the GDP. We say the youth especially must be recruited and brought on board. Hon members, you must remember that the passion, success and commitment of black farmers in agriculture were systematically eroded through colonialism and apartheid interventions. Africans and youth in particular were forced into indentured labour that dehumanised and in turn dissuaded the youth from working in agriculture.
Twenty years into democracy, remnants of colonialism and apartheid are still apparent in the sector. As such, most youth think of agriculture as oppressive, hard labour with low wages and no room for career advancement. We must fight that kind of thinking and make sure that our youth come up. Indeed, a few are coming up, like 27-year-old Nomzamo Khoza, from KwaZulu- Natal, who is the Female Entrepreneur of the Year. We are really very thankful for that.
The Minister also will be working with other Ministers, especially the Ministers of Rural Development and Education to make sure that we mobilise our youth so that it becomes part of this new movement in agriculture to create all these jobs.
The area of beneficiation will really have to be worked out. The youth and the new people in the agricultural sector must see all the value chains where they are. They must be part of the new findings, new technology, new machines and the new thinking. They must see that agriculture does not belong to the apartheid era and is not a form of oppression, but part of liberation and a part of where we are supposed to increase jobs and find new liberation. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr R T MTHEMBU (KwaZulu-Natal): Hon Chair, the Chairperson of this House, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, permanent members of the NCOP and invited guests, in tabling their budgets, the two Ministers have made important projections of what the department was to do during this financial year.
For example, in agriculture, it is quite pleasing to note that the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme, CASP, is one of the major interventions by the department. In fact, given the dire situation in South Africa, where about 20% of the population is vulnerable to food insecurity, such programmes as CASP need to be refocused to deal directly with this challenge.
There is a need to look at ways in which the department can leverage its limited budget with other government agencies and partners to ensure that there is adequate investment in food production and thus food security, particularly at local level.
As government, it is not possible to fund every activity if your resources are limited. Hence, there is a need for CASP to be more focused in terms of what is supported in the provinces.
Close monitoring and evaluation of the CASP budget and various projects in the province is required. This will maximise the impact of limited financial resources and ensure that farmers and poor people benefit from such government interventions.
Monitoring of CASP intervention requires technically skilled personnel. Unfortunately there is a trend to think that any official will be in a position to understand what has been achieved versus that which was expected. We need more appropriately skilled and trained personnel in the department to support the noble programmes and initiatives tabled by the Minister.
Agriculture and Forestry will always continue to compete for limited land and water resources with other sectors. This requires the department to be clear in terms of protecting high-potential cropping land against other competing demands without stifling economic growth.
While food and nutrition security is a priority for this government, the budget allocated for agriculture is never adequate. Entrant farmers are continually allocated land without adequate support. When such farmers cannot work the land as productively as anticipated, they are blamed for their lack of skills and dedication. No, it is primarily the lack of financial support for inputs. It has to be understood that the very same entrant farmers have no access to the banks as they often do not have collateral. Therefore, we must congratulate the Minister for taking a solid stand on fisheries as a sector. Until such time that the fisheries and related industries are fully integrated, and it is taken into account that some communities depend on fish for survival, the sector will continue to be a thorny issue.
The major challenge for this sector is that the bulk of our stocks are harvested, not farmed. For many people it is about being given the opportunity to harvest, rather than farm with fish. Therefore, this department is faced with multiple challenges, namely to equitably allocate fishing licences to people whose aim it is to harvest to support the farmers with facilities such as boats to harvest and process fish, to monitor the quantities that are harvested on the basis of quotas allocated, and to legally intervene when such quotas are exceeded by some fisherfolk.
There is also a disjuncture of this function as it resides at national level, with very little involvement by provinces. While there are opportunities for most coastal provinces, there is a limited role, particularly for monitoring, by the provincial department.
Extension services are on the verge of collapse. Any turnaround strategies on extension services by the department are long overdue. Piecemeal and nonproductive activities such as the provision of green books, laptops, and data loggers do not help the cause. What is required is a dedicated cadre of extension personnel whose worth will be based on what project they have delivered on the ground.
The commitment by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to a radical and rapid break from the past gives South Africans the hope that the coming generation will witness meaningful redress of past imbalances. Without a land audit, the government will never know the full potential it has to change the economic fortune of its people. Therefore, this audit must leave no stone unturned in unearthing the unethical and fraudulent transactions that took place close to or during the political transition.
The conversion of the current foreign ownership of land should be applauded. Locals have a close affinity with the motherland and will therefore always put the needs of the country first in the management of such land. The restriction of foreign ownership of land is not a new concept; it is practiced by many countries. It is intended to ensure that the citizens have a chance at economic empowerment and to ensure that, should the needs of an investor change, it would be easy to move operations without being saddled with the intricacies of releasing land in their possession.
Farm evictions are a painful blight on the history of our democracy. Instead of evictions, we applaud the national government for coming up with alternatives to safeguard the humanity of those who toil on farms and therefore contribute immensely to the fortunes of farm owners on the one hand and to the undeniable need for farmers to be assured of the security of their investment on the other.
We must all contribute to the success of the comprehensive rural development programme. People do not move to urban areas in order to marvel at the bright city lights. It is economic hardship and educational opportunities that drive our people to leave their beloved, unpolluted lands to enter the hustle and bustle of city life. Economic migration destroys families. If people are empowered where they live, they have no reason to surrender themselves to the harshness of a nomadic life.
Therefore, the Minister and his colleagues must be applauded again for their commitment to the upliftment of vulnerable groups, especially women and the youth. One of the sorest remnants of oppression is the denial of women the right to use rural land simply on the basis of their gender.
The legislative efforts in the form of the new communal land Bill are applauded. It is hoped that in provinces like ours the district land committees will have a healthy relationship with the district agricultural forums that are going to be created to ensure collaboration and participation in agriculture. With those inputs, we as KwaZulu-Natal support both budgets. Thank you. [Applause.]