The Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, together with the Deputy Minister, Dr Pieter Mulder, have met the provincial Members of Executive Committee (MECs) responsible for Agriculture, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) at their bi-monthly Minmec meeting yesterday.
Among others the meeting focused on the issue of service delivery where the Minister emphasised that, "The time has come that a rapid response team, made up of all the provincial Departments of Agriculture and the ministry, is created to deal with the issues raised through the Presidential Hotline." As part of the government, and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), doing things differently the Minister announced that progress is being made towards hosting a number of provincial mini farm-dweller summits, followed up with a national summit later this year. The objective of the summit, among other things, is to engage with the farm workers and farm dwellers to learn about their plights, while at the same creating mechanisms for speedy intervention where this is required in the areas of crime, security of tenure, education and training and job and economic development stimulation. "We will set up a national hotline for the farm dwellers, so that those farm workers who are being abused or illegally evicted can access assistance speedily," the minister explained.
This fits in with another key concern of rural communities, crime, especially in the context of the recent killings of farmers and farm workers alike. The meeting condemned all acts of violence, criminality and abuse anywhere.
At the meeting a number of presentations were made, among others by the Land Bank, which shared its new curatorship model, which will have, upon adoption, both a collateral fund and a supplementary fund. The curatorship will be led by the Land Bank with the intention of making it independent from the bank while the collateral fund will be led by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. The DAFF will take care of the supplementary capital fund. This model will be put through the consultation and parliamentary processes in due course.
In conclusion it was noted that long-term relationship between black and white farmers will enhance food security in the country and improve the chances of success for black smallholder farmers. The MECs have been encouraged to create a database of the status of black-owned farms in order to assess the impact of land reform, land restitution and redistribution.
Minister Joemat-Pettersson welcomed the report by Deputy Minister Mulder on the progress made with regard to the comprehensive legislative review process currently underway in the department and which the latter is driving. She concluded that, "we are going to do things differently from this year on, giving real, practical meaning to the developmental state that is geared towards delivering equitable transformation, improving rural livelihoods, stimulating inclusive rural economies and creating highly successful black agricultural entrepreneurs."