Earlier today, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture presented its 2020 Adjusted Budget of R888 million to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Environmental Affairs. The Adjusted Budget reduces the budget for the current financial year by R82 million.

Key drivers for these cuts are amongst others the decision by the national Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to cut conditional grants to the Western Cape by R30.296 million.

The reduction of R21.2 million in the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Grant (CASP) and a further R9.084 million reduction in the Ilima Letsema Grant impact directly on projects targeting farmer support and development.

Commenting on the budget cuts, Dr Ivan Meyer Western Cape Minister of Agriculture expressed his concern with the policy approach of the National Government.

Minister Meyer: "The National Government mismanages public funds, and the Western Cape is punished unfairly through these budget cuts."

Minister Meyer continues: "The cuts in conditional grants and the decision to revoke the national disaster status of the drought impacts on the lives and livelihoods of our farmers, farmworkers and the entire agriculture value chain. I will continue to engage the National Department and colleagues in these regions as it impacts directly on the sector’s ability to provide food security to our people."

Key projects such as the raising of the Brandvlei Dam and the building of cold rooms for Black Fruit Producers have been either shelved or postponed to the 2021/2022 financial year.

Minister Meyer also expressed his concern about emerging trends which he believes will impact on the Department.

Meyer: "Firstly, I am concerned about mandate creep - the Brandvlei Dam is an example of a national mandate which is creeping into the provincial space. Secondly, we must display the same level of resilience we see amongst our farmers and farm workers. Thirdly, South Africa's Public Finance is not well managed, and this reflects in the cuts in budgets. Fourthly, I welcome the President's decision to issue a proclamation to deal with Covid-19 Relief Fund corruption and lastly, we must prepare the sector for the post-COVID-19 phase. I am concerned about the wine industry as we believe that you cannot deal with alcohol abuse by shutting down the wine industry."

The Committee heard that the Covid-19 lockdown impacted on the window of opportunity provided for the maintenance of the Clanwilliam Canal and the clearing of alien vegetation. The R7.9 million meant for these projects are to be reprioritised.


MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Daniel Johnson

Spokesperson for Minister Ivan Meyer

Tel: 079 990 4231

Email: Daniel.Johnson@westerncape.gov.za