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July : Address by Dr. Motete at the FSA Annual General Meeting

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18 July, 2013

Keynote Address by Dr. Nthabiseng Motete, Deputy Director-General for Forestry and Natural Resources Management at the Forestry South Africa Annual General Meeting held on 16 May 2013, in Pietermaritzburg

Executive Director of Forestry South Africa, Mr Michael Pete
Distinguished Guest Speaker, Mr. Julian Ozanne, CEO of The New Forests Company
Forestry South Africa Executive Committee and Members
Industry representatives
Government officials

Ladies and Gentlemen, warm greetings this afternoon

It is the greatest honour and privilege for me to stand before you here today, and to address the Annual General Meeting of Forestry South Africa on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. As a new Deputy Director General for Forestry and Natural Resources in the Department, there couldn't have been a more welcoming reception by the forestry industry! And allow me to thank you very much for that. To me, and to the leadership of the Department, this gesture by Forestry South Africa indeed signifies a healthy working relationship between the Department and the Forestry Industry. I am convinced that this harmonious working relationship with the Department, extends to other commodity groups as I confirmed by my observations during the recent gathering of the CEOs Forum convened by the Department in Pretoria on the 24th April 2013. I believe that the Department would like to grow this congenial working relationship to even higher levels to ensure provision of continued support that is required by the industry, for the greater good and benefit of the citizenry and society at large. In this regard distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am further grateful to the leadership of the Department for giving me the opportunity to serve both industry and the public in the portfolio that I hold.

At this point, I would like to share with you the Department's vision for Forestry and Natural Resource Management for 2013/14. Our priorities are fore-grounded by government's broad development framework in terms of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). Specifically, the Department focuses on the implementation of three of the 12 outcomes of Government, namely Outcomes 4, 7 and 10. Briefly stated:-

  • Outcome 4 focuses on the creation of decent employment through inclusive economic growth.
  • Outcome 7 focuses on creation and establishment of vibrant, equitable, sustainable rural communities contributing towards food security for all.
  • And Outcome 10 focuses on the protect and enhancement of our environmental assets and natural resources

At a higher level, these priorities are guided by government's key policies, in particular the National Development Plan (NDP), the New Growth Path (NGP), the Industrial Policy Action Plan 2 (IPAP2) and the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC).

Alignment of Departmental plans to these high level policies has been done. For instance, the IPAP2 and New Growth Path find expression in the Integrated Growth and Development Plan (IGDP) for agriculture, forestry and fisheries which I believe you are familiar with. The goals of the Integrated Growth and Development Plan of the Department include:-  

   (i) attaining equity and transformation
   (ii) economic growth and competitiveness
   (iii) environmental sustainability and
   (iv) good governance.

In the current year (2013/14), Department's plans have been aligned to important programmes government such as:-

The Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) informs the Department's role in the Strategic Infrastructure Project (SIP) 11, which aims to improve investment in infrastructure to support agricultural production, employment (with the focus on forestry and fisheries), small-scale farming and rural development.

Other key priorities worth noting, especially as interventions to address a number of the key challenges confronting the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries sectors include the following:-

Extension Recovery Programme, which aims to develop a national policy on extension and advisory services to, among others, consider alternative extension methodologies, alternative institutional arrangements for providing services and creating a professional body to advance the extension profession.

National Mechanisation Programme, initiated in 2010/11, will be revised to improve institutional arrangements regarding the operation and maintenance of implements; ensure broader access; and advance the shift towards agro-ecological agriculture.

Inland fisheries- develop further economic opportunities around generally existing fish stock within freshwater bodies and rivers

Agro-ecological agriculture - DAFF is in discussions with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, for assistance in developing a comprehensive approach to agro-ecological agriculture.

Supporting labour-intensive commercial agriculture
(loss of wage jobs on commercial farms )- DAFF intends to develop a policy to render greater targeted support to those commercial farms at the smaller end of the commercial spectrum.

Urban agriculture - there is a need to create an encompassing strategy on urban and peri-urban agriculture with a particular focus to support residents of informal settlements at the fringes of towns and cities.

To reflect in some details on our efforts on Outcome 4 towards job creation, let me highlight the following initiatives:

  • Jobs and opportunities creation by Working for Fisheries Programme, Land Use and Soil Management , and refurbishment of Category B and C plantations
  • The LandCare Programme deploys labour intensive mechanisms within its project implementation under the SoilCare, VeldCare and WaterCare themes. The programme is targeting to achieve 874 000 job opportunities which is equal to 3 800 Full-time Equivalents (FTEs), over four years
  • Through EPWP credit system an estimated 7 500 jobs are to be created by the department over a period of five years, the number of FTEs would increase to 3 750 over a period of five years.
  • Contribute towards poverty alleviation through interventions that are public driven which will provide alternative livelihood options for rural and coastal communities
  • Working for Fisheries Programme provides alternative livelihood options for rural and coastal communities with an estimated 3 450 job opportunities to be created over a period of three years

Our efforts towards protection of environment and enhancement of our our biological assets I would like to reflect on our efforts towards:-

  • Protecting and coordinating rehabilitation of degraded indigenous forests, woodland and agricultural land and ensure sustainable management of forestry and natural resources
  • Rehabilitate 32 280 ha of rangeland, cultivated land, weeds and invader plants through implementation of protection and conservation measures
  • Support 1 300 small growers with capacity-building interventions, including technical advice, training and linking them to potential funders to improve production efficiency of forestry and socio-economic livelihoods.

The department will work with stakeholders within the sector on initiatives and interventions to increase production within the subsistence, smallholder and commercial environments.

Implement Forestry Sector Charter undertakings in the value chain to ensure renewed growth, transformation and sustainability throughout Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in economic, social and environmental terms, will improve the lives of the poor.

Refurbish and maintain smallholder government irrigation schemes.

Develop, implement and monitor disaster risk reduction strategies Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Plans

The above are the kind of initiatives that are needed for the sustainability of the industry especially the SMME's. These will also provide further support for the implementation of the Forest Sector Charter which is currently under review. The review of the Charter will deal with a number of obligations that have proven to be difficult to achieve. I am therefore urging that we work together like we did during the development of this Charter to ensure that the review process is fruitful.

One of the challenges that have been presented to the Department is funding for research. As a Department we realise that without research specifically focusing on our small growers, then it will be impossible for them to grow. We are therefore working on the research fund that will benefit the small growers and this will further be addressed during the Charter review process.

Due to challenges that this sector faces, I must mention just a few successes in the past year as these would not have been possible without the working relationship between us and the sector.

  • This sector has for a long time strived to get new afforestation started and I am proud that at this stage the Eastern Cape Environmental Impact Assessments that were done last year have yielded some fruits. This means that the Department of Water Affairs will be issuing water licenses for the minimum of 5000ha that have received Record of Decisions. One of the tools that was helpful during this process were the Afforestation Protocols. I would like to thank the sector through FSA that has supported the Department during the EIA process. It shows that working together we can achieve and be able to grow the sector and improve rural livelihoods.
  • The Transport Infrastructure study that was commissioned by the Department has led to productive discussions with both the national Department of transport and some of the provincial departments. There is still some work to be done in this area to ensure that the Provinces plans road infrastructure upgrades are aligned to the implementation plan of the study.

Once again we will be celebrating Arbor Week in September which will launched here in KwaZulu-Natal. I encourage all of you as our stakeholders to partner with the Department in showcasing the hard work that this sector does and contribute to especially rural economy.

As you may know, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and South Africa led by DAFF will host the 14th World Forestry Congress in September 2015 here in KwaZulu-Natal. This will be the first time that Africa hosts this congress and it will present an opportunity for Africa and South Africa to showcase the progressive forestry polices, innovation and technologies that we have collectively achieved. In preparation for the Congress, I would like to invite the forestry industry and all our stakeholders to partner with us to ensure its success. We will be appointing a Secretary General and the Assistant Secretary General together with the FAO within the next few months and then the planning and stakeholder meeting will take place. Invitations will be sent to representatives of the industry for their participation.

Thank you