Address by Mr ML Filtane, MP in Parliament
Honourable Speaker and members
The United Democratic Movement (UDM), supports the budget vote with the following comments.
Although the Department manages 64 000 hectors of category B and C of plantations, there is no budget for the revitalisation of these plantations through which process, jobs could have been created. In the meantime there is a huge national demand for sawlog timber.
South Africa could soon be a net importer of sawlogs because the water shortages, change of business model as well as the state’s poor management of the category B and C forests. The consequence hereof is that building costs are going to go up.
The department bosts a large number of highly qualified personnel, yet all we see is an ongoing increase in the numbers of food-less citizens and jobless people.
The projected 40 000 beneficiaries of the food production initiatives is less than a drop in ocean because it accounts for less than 1% of the total population that lives below the poverty line.
Truth is, people don’t care how much you know, all they want to know is how much you care, for them.
The impact of your draught relief programme was so minimal that two farmers took their lives after losing hope in your endeavours, most farmers in the Eastern Cape have only heard about your efforts, instead of actually getting it. Food prices are set to rise to unprecedented levels.
The effect of the drastic reduction of the Agricultural Research Council’s (ARC) budget is going to be negative that even ordinary citizens will decry your decision.
This is an entity that was able to produce an effective drought tolerant maize seed. Had they had the obviously necessary financial support, the effect of drought would have been seriously minimised, thus saving the citizens from death resulting starvation.
Go produce food for the starving masses such that the social grants beneficiaries can get food at farm gate prices with minimal transport costs. (transport adds 25% to the plate of food).
Prioritise food production. If the department had a strong policy of maximising your position in the local market, you would not be worried about the collapsing China markets.
The committee’s report is not reflective of public representatives who realise that this country is in dire-straights. I suggest the department responds much faster to the recommendations.
Poverty drives more people to social security for financial relief.
The numbers of food producers has declined by about 30% in the last 10 to 20 years. The current government is not being effective in stopping the haemorrhage. South Africa is going to be less food producing and have very high food costs. Minister, you are producing inflation.
Most important and urgent, the agricultural sector remains lily white with no semblance or evidence of purposeful transformation that dismantles the exclusive ownership of food production in our country.
It is disturbing to hear that white farmers continue to exclude the majority of citizens by using Afrikaans as the only medium of producing food. We demand a clear realistic plan on this.