Hon members, allow the Deputy Minister to continue, please.
Die ADJUNKMINISTER VAN LANDBOU, BOSBOU EN VISSERYE: Agb Voorsitter, hierdie is 'n landboudebat, eintlik oor 'n baie belangrike saak - Suid-Afrika se landbou, wat ons almal raak. Ek dink die lede hier en die mense daar buite moet kennis neem dat die DA dit nodig ag om hier kleinpolitiek te maak. Ons sal later politieke debatte voer, maar hierdie debat gaan oor landbou en die toekoms van landbou, wat ons almal raak.
Die vraag wat ek wil vra, is dit: Wat is die grootste probleem wat landbouers tans in Suid-Afrika het? Die grootste probleem in hierdie stadium is onsekerheid - onsekerheid oor hul grond in die lig van verwarrende uitsprake, onsekerheid oor die styging van administratiewe pryse waaroor hulle geen beheer het nie. Die onsekerheid gaan oor dinge soos die koste van elektrisiteit, dinge soos water, asook die onlangse verhoogde lone, wat alles 'n effek het en die onsekerheid veroorsaak. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[The DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES: Hon Chairperson, this is an agriculture debate on what is actually a very important matter - South Africa's agriculture, which affects all of us. I believe the members here and the people out there should take note that the DA finds it necessary to play at petty politics here. We can have the political debates later, but this debate is about agriculture and the future of agriculture, which affects all of us.
The question I want to pose is: What is the biggest problem that currently faces South Africa's agriculturists? At this stage the biggest problem is uncertainty - uncertainty about their land in the light of confusing statements, uncertainty about the increased administrative costs over which they have no control. The uncertainty is about things such as the cost of electricity, things such as water, as well as the recent increased wages, which all have an effect and are causing the uncertainty.]
Madam, these increases pose huge threats to the sustainability of the sector. Therefore, to protect farmers, farms, farm workers and ultimately food security, critical interventions by government via direct and indirect support mechanisms are needed.
Furthermore, the diverse South African sector more than ever requires a committed partnership between the private and all the public sector organs. The support of the state-owned entities, SOEs, in the sector is a partnership that has evolved over decades. Extensive empirical evidence demonstrates that agricultural research and development investments have greatly contributed to economic growth, to agricultural development and to poverty alleviation in developing regions over the past five decades. Effectively, new technologies and crop varieties resulting from research and development investments have enhanced the quantity and quality of agricultural produce, at the same time increasing sustainability, which was possible because of this research.
Given the important challenges, such as population growth, climate change, increasing weather variability, water scarcity, and the volatility of food prices, we must recognise the value of greater investment in agricultural research and development as an essential element in increasing agricultural productivity.
Daarom mag die rol van die Landbounavorsingsraad, LNR, nooit onderskat word nie. Die kernmandaat van die LNR is om landbou se bydrae tot lewenskwaliteit te bevorder en om effektiewe natuurlike hulpbronne te verseker. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[That is why the role of the Agricultural Research Council, ARC, must never be underestimated. The core mandate of the ARC is to promote agriculture's contribution to the quality of life and to ensure effective natural resources.]
To date, the Agricultural Research Council has successfully implemented the National Livestock Improvement Scheme that is aimed at improving the performance, competitiveness and efficiency of smallholder farmers through the application of practical scientific approaches to the breeding and management of livestock. Through this scheme, we have seen an increase in the number of smallholder farmers participating in the scheme, from 920 a year ago to 4 075 livestock producers by the end of March 2013.
During the 2013-14 financial year the ARC will increase the number of farmers participating in the scheme by an additional 2 000, and this will include collaboration with other organisations such as the Industrial Development Corporation, IDC, and the Independent Development Trust, IDT. The ARC will also continue providing services such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer to smallholder farmers. Surely this is a success that we can start showing in that area.
The ARC renders innovative and smart solutions, which help farmers eliminate pests and eradicate diseases. Vaccines are a highly specialised animal health area. With it, the ARC conducts clinical trials ensuring the efficacy and effectiveness of such remedies for the livestock sector.
The 2013-14 financial year marks the beginning of a new era also for Onderstepoort Biological Products, OBP. The much needed capital injection of R492 million from National Treasury over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, period will be used to refurbish the ageing plant, to purchase new equipment and to build a good manufacturing practice, GMP, facility which will place OBP onto a new trajectory. If you visited them, you will know why they are so important, and I think this is a breakthrough.
The quality of OBP vaccines is a critical issue. The quality control system has been accredited, and this must ensure that no substandard batch of vaccines leave the plant. Onderstepoort Biological Products has also received research funding of R39 million from the Technology Innovation Agency.
Chairperson, South Africa is currently a net exporter of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products. These sectors' exports contribute R61 billion to the gross domestic product, GDP, with a R6,5 billion positive trade balance. It is, however, noteworthy that South Africa's agricultural exports decreased by 5% between 2011 and 2012. We need to acquire a positive investment climate and a high level of business confidence in order to enhance and maintain our competitiveness. Political stability and sound decision-making are key with regard to the attribution of a positive climate and the enhancement of the level of trade and investment confidence.
The goal of creating one million jobs by 2030, according to the National Development Plan, is only possible through export growth, and export growth is only possible through investment in the growing export sectors. Our department has been successful in establishing good trade relations with new markets and will continue with this initiative during the next financial year. The department and the Perishable Products Export Control Board, PPECB, are working closely together to assist South Africans - within the ambit of the law - to export their products successfully in a highly competitive global arena. As a result of some sacrifices and creative thinking, the PPECB has gone from a R16 million loss to a financial break-even situation in one year.
The PPECB has revised the Perishable Products Export Control Act, Act No 9 of 1983. This was an intensive exercise that involved consultations with many people. It is hoped that, once the new Act is promulgated, it will enable the PPECB to modernise its business offerings to the public. It should certainly put the PPECB's business model on a more sustainable footing.
The National Agricultural Marketing Council continues to successfully implement developmental schemes in wine grapes, maize, sunflower and livestock. The objectives of these schemes are to secure markets, which is of critical importance for the development of emerging farmers. We cannot have farmers who are left in the emerging phase forever. These farmers should be enabled to successfully develop into commercial producers. That is for the benefit of all of us. [Applause.] It is, however, important that there will, at such a stage, still be a commercial sector subsisting for these farmers to join.
Voorsitter, verstaan ons werklik wat dit beteken om voedselsekerheid in die toekoms vir 'n wreldbevolking van 9 miljard en 'n Suid-Afrikaanse bevolking van 60 tot 70 miljoen te probeer verseker? In Suid-Afrika se geval kan 70% van sy inwoners reeds oor 20 jaar in die stede woon. Om in voedselsekerheid te kan slaag, is 'n suksesvolle kommersile landbousektor noodsaaklik. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Chairperson, do we really understand what it means to try to guarantee food security in the future for a world population of 9 billion and a South African population of 60 to 70 million? In South Africa's case, 70% of its inhabitants could already be living in the cities in 20 years' time. In order to succeed in food security, a successful commercial agricultural sector is essential.]
Notwithstanding a concerted global effort after the 1996 World Food Summit, global food insecurity increased from 800 million people in 1996 to 925 million people in 2011, with 235 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that the increase in the world population, from the current 7 billion to 8 billion by 2030, will require an additional 120 million hectares for crop production. Furthermore, by 2050 the estimated global population of 9 billion will require an increase in agricultural production to an additional 1 billion tons of cereals and 200 million tons of livestock products per annum.
Die feit is verder dat meeste van die bewerkbare landbougrond op hierdie planeet klaar in gebruik is. Daarbenewens verloor ons elke jaar omtrent 10 miljoen hektaar vrugbare grond ter wreld. In Suid-Afrika is goeie landbougrond so groot soos die Krugerwildtuin reeds permanent vir landbou verlore as gevolg van mynbou-aktiwiteite en verstedeliking.
Suid-Afrika het tans nie 'n tekort aan voedsel nie en daar kan dus geargumenteer word dat ons voedelsekerheid het. Tog bevind Statistiek Suid- Afrika in 2010 dat 23% van die Suid-Afrikaanse bevolking 'n tekort aan voedsel het en honger ly. Hierdie hongersnood en ondervoeding in Suid- Afrika word nie soseer deur 'n tekort aan voedsel, soos in ander lande, veroorsaak nie. Dit word veroorsaak deur die armoede van sekere lede van die gemeenskap, wat nie kos teen huidige kospryse kan bekostig nie.
Hoe los ons hierdie probleme op? Hoe produseer ons meer voedsel op minder grond sonder om die omgewing verder te besoedel? Dis die uitdaging. Hoe verseker ons dat hierdie voedsel goedkoop genoeg is om voedselsekerheid ook vir die armes in ons gemeenskap te verseker? Dit lyk na 'n onmoontlike probleem en 'n dilemma. Dit is vir my duidelik dat boerdery, soos ons dit vandag ken, op pad na 2050 ingrypend sal moet verander om die probleme die hoof te kan bied.
Is daar 'n antwoord? Ja! Tot op datum die afgelope eeu het ons deur tegnologie, navorsing en opleiding voorgebly met die verskaffing van voedsel. Ek s met tegnologie kan die huidige plafonne wat ten opsigte van die produksie van kos bestaan, gebreek word. Deur middel van tegnologie kan meer en meer kos geproduseer word met dieselfde en selfs minder insette. Ek s met tegnologie kan die volle potensiaal van plante verder ontsluit word, om meer te groei van minder, om ons voedselvoorraad te verdubbel en alternatiewe bronne van energie te skep sonder om die skaars waterbronne uit te put of die koolsuurgas meer te maak. Dis die uitdagings. Dis moderne landbou wat hoogs ingewikkeld is en wat hom nie tot kleinlike politiek leen, soos vandag nie. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[It is also a fact that most of the arable agricultural soil on this planet is already in use. Moreover, we are losing about 10 million hectares of fertile land per year in the world. In South Africa, because of mining activities and urbanisation, good farming land as large as the Kruger National Park has already gone to waste for agriculture.
At present South Africa does not have a shortage of food, so one could argue that we do have food security. However, Statistics SA found in 2010 that 23% of the South African population was suffering food shortages and hunger. This hunger and malnutrition in South Africa is caused not so much by a shortage of food, as in other countries, but by the poverty of certain members of the community, who cannot afford food at the current prices.
How do we solve these problems? How do we produce more food on less land without further polluting the environment? This is the challenge. How do we see to it that this food is cheap enough to ensure food security for the poor in our communities as well? It seems like an impossible problem and a dilemma. It is clear to me that farming, as we know it today, will have to change dramatically on the way to 2050 for us to be able to deal with these issues.
Is there an answer? Yes! Up to now in the past century we have managed through technology, research and training to stay ahead with food provisioning. I am saying that through technology the current ceilings that exist regarding the production of food can be penetrated. Through technology more and more food can be produced with the same amount of, or even less, input. I am saying that through technology the full potential of crops can be further unlocked, to grow more from less, to double our food supplies and create alternative sources of energy without draining our scarce water resources or increasing the carbon dioxide. These issues are the challenges. This is modern agriculture, which is highly developed and does not lend itself to petty politics, such as happened today.]