DAFF hopes for better performance during the second innings

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has made slow progress in meeting its performance targets for the 2015/16 financial year.

- Advertisement -

This was according to the adjusted estimates of national expenditure, released today (21 October) when finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene presented the Medium Term Budget Policy Statements (MTBPS) in Parliament.

The agriculture department managed only to deliver five out of a projected 18 mobile veterinary clinics during the first six months of the financial year, the target for the year however remained unchanged.

The adjusted estimates of national expenditure for DAFF stated that due to the commencement of the veterinary services programme in January 2016, no veterinary graduates were deployed in the first six months of the financial year. The department did, however, expect to meet its target to deploy 140 veterinary graduates for the compulsory veterinary services programme in the second half of the year.

- Advertisement -

In the first six months of 2015/16, only 15 950 smallholder producers were supported in the form of advisory services, marketing and accessible financial support services. The figure was significantly below the annual target of 145 000 smallholder farmers to be supported, but DAFF indicated that the target would be met during the summer planting season.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) also made slow progress in meeting certain performance targets.

The DRDLR set out to acquire 370 000ha for land reform during the current financial year, but during the first half of the year only 92 486ha were acquired.

Only 95 new farms were recapitalised during the past six month out of an annual target of 331 and 201 land claims have thus far been settled out of the 373 claims set to be settled this year.

Nene said in his speech the South African economy was projected to grow at about 1,5% this year, and by 1,7% next year.

According to Nene this was considerably lower than predicted at the time of the February budget, when GDP growth of 2% was projected for 2015 and 2,4% for 2016.

“Electricity supply constraints, falling commodity prices and lower confidence levels have resulted in our growth forecasts being revised lower,” Nene said.

Limited employment growth and household income constraints were holding back consumption, he said.

“Though there is still a long way to go in building energy security, we are now benefiting from Eskom’s enhanced maintenance efforts and our expanding renewable energy programme. The first unit of Medupi also came online, adding 800 MW of capacity to the grid,” Nene said.

Nene said that strengthening SA’s engagement with Africa and the wider Southern African region was a critical element in SA’s growth and development strategy.

“Regional integration means practical collaboration in building infrastructure, investment promotion and growing trade linkages,” he said.