Budget Vote 25 -
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

 

Remarks by Inkosi RN Cebekhulu MP
 

National Assembly: 13 April 2010

 

Honourable Chairperson,

 

The IFP believes this to be a most critical vote, particularly for the improvement of food security.

 

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has the immense task of ensuring that our country does not rely solely on imported foodstuffs.
 

The Department must look at ways in which the government can assist our own farmers in being as competitive as their overseas counterparts, ways in which we can assist the farmers in lowering production costs thereby ensuring cheaper retail prices to consumers. The department must also look at ways in which we can boost our own agricultural sector by assisting our farmers in a manner which will lead to increased food production and also by encouraging South Africans to buy and support local products.

 

In order for this to be a success, the Department must ensure that people living on communal land receive assistance in obtaining farming equipment and skills development training and must be encouraged, at the very least, to be self sustainable.

 

The IFP applauds the Department on its programmes of support services, trade and agricultural development, food and Bio-security, but at the same time tasks the Department to do more. We have high unemployment and breadwinners are unable to support their families, these people must be prioritized and assisted by the Department.

 

Genetically modified foods need to be analyzed very carefully for harmful chemicals used in the production of such foods, as these chemicals eventually end up in the blood systems of consumers and some have been known to have very dangerous health implications. The department has a responsibility to the people of South Africa to conduct all the necessary due diligence tests on GM food crops.

 

From the 1st to the 3rd February of this year, the Portfolio Committee visited the Ministry's farming projects in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. These projects are dismal failures. The money spent on acquiring these farms has been wasted for the simple reason that the farms are not productive; in fact they are producing nothing. Wherein lies the problem?

And how can we learn from this so that it does not occur again?

 

The IFP hopes that in the Department's new approach of categorizing farmers into three groupings the Minister will provide a clear allocation of funding for these categories, one which will maximize and promote the best yields.

 

The Minister has also indicated that the Department will be providing a R50 million allocation per province for the purchase of tractors and other farming equipment for rural and previously disadvantaged communities. The IFP welcomes this move as it will go a long way in improving the lives of a great many South Africans.

 

There are still numerous challenges though, one of them being an adequate water supply to rural farming communities. It has been said that rivers are drying up due to an infestation of alien plant growth, this must be investigated and addressed by the Department as a matter of urgency as lack of water leads to poor crops and grazing land. Another being the recent outbreak of Rift Valley Fever which must also be quickly isolated and eradicated.

 

That being said, the IFP supports the budget vote.

 

I thank you.

 

Contact:
Inkosi Russell Cebekhulu MP
082 975 5107