The Portfolio Committee on Economic Development, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development presents its oversight report on the 1st Quarterly Performance Report of the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for the 2016/17 financial year (FY). During the quarter under review the Department spent R172mil (R172 110 000) which represents 22% of the allocated budget which is R777mil (R777 853 000).

The Administration programme has spent 24.7% of its budget to date and is in line with the 1st quarter budget expenditure. The Agriculture and Rural Development programme has utilized 19.9% of its annual budget followed by the Environmental Affairs programme spending at 23.9% of its budget to date. The report aims to scrutinize the performance as well as the extent to which the Department delivered on their service delivery mandate in the 1st quarter of the 2016/2017 financial year.

The Department focussed on fulfilling targets of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) that aimed to improve the Province’s economy with a strong focus on agro-processing. It is the view of the Committee that the allocated budget will further assist with the various initiatives effected in the last financial year which included the setting up of mobile abattoirs, Agri-parks and a milling plant. The Committee notes that the utilization of funds is consistent with this period in the budget cycle and is on track with fulfilling the service delivery mandate the Department set to achieve at the beginning of the current financial year.

The Committee recognizes that the Department continues to have challenges in supporting small holder farmers due to its internal procurement processes. This has been an ongoing challenge from the previous financial year. The failure to appoint service providers on time to distribute production inputs to small holder farmers has had a negative impact on the progress and yield of small holder farmers.

The Committee commends the Department for the improvement of the Compliance and Enforcement Unit in the province, this has strengthened individual companies to comply with the legislation. The Committee noted that the Department created 354 job opportunities through environmental programmes.

The Committee encourages the Department to continue ensuring structured agricultural education and training to small holder and emergent farmers in order to establish a knowledgeable and competitive sector. Support materials such as seeds, fertilizer and water cans are available, but stored in the Departmental house. The failure to distribute these materials to small holder farmers has a negative impact on their farming operations.

Read report below.