Agricultural parastatals deliver encouraging annual results

Three agricultural parastatals reported that they received unqualified audit reports for 2009/10 and members of parliament’s agricultural committee seemed encouraged by the performance results presented in their annual reports.

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Executive members of the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), the Perishable Product Export Control Board (PPECB) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) told the committee that while funding shortages were placing restrictions on the number of programmes they could implement, they were confident they were doing the best they could with the limited funds available.

However, committee chairperson Mlungisi Johnson warned the parastatals that unqualified audits weren’t a real measure of performance. “We’re not about figures; figures can be very cold – we have to focus on the genuine improvement our work is bringing aboutin people’s lives,” he said.The ongoing woes of the ARC came under scrutiny again. “The report you give us is very glossy and it highlights several achievements, but it doesn’t refer to the severe capacity restraints experienced by the ARC,” noted Salam Abram (ANC-MP).

ARC CEO Shadrack Moephuli responded, “It’s no secret our infrastructure is collapsing, but we’re reporting here on the work we’ve done with the resources available to us.” Meanwhile, the NAMC’s strategic objectives were well-aligned to some very important issues affecting agriculture, namely the ability to market local produce at the best price possible, said Lourie Bosman (DA-MP).  But he wanted to know what role the NAMC played in protecting the local industry. “The International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa isn’t functioning well enough,” Bosman said.

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“They’re shying away from the real issues and this has resulted in a decline in production, because there’s no market protection for producers. We’ll find ourselves isolated from many markets because of decreasing competitiveness.”  A lack of support from the department of agriculture – meaning the PPECB couldn’t achieve their strategic objectives – was one of the challenges highlighted by the board’s CEO, Luvuyo Mabombo.