Thomas Walters MPL
Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development
The Gauteng Agriculture and Rural Development Department underspent R15 199 000 on conditional grants for its Agricultural Support Programme. The programme focuses on the development of subsistence, emerging and commercial farmers in the province.
This was revealed in the Department’s Annual Report for 2011/12 that was recently tabled in the Gauteng Legislature.
The Auditor General said in the report that as a consequence of this major underspend the Department did not fully achieve its objectives of supporting and promoting agricultural development in the province.
Agriculture is an important industry and of great concern as the food security of the province is under threat. As an industry, agriculture also has among the largest potential job creation benefits in relation to expenditure and other inputs.
Another crucial area affected by a massive underspend, R7 971 000, was the Department’s Conservation programme.
It is of particular concern that under spending hits emerging Agriculture and Conservation programmes the hardest. This means that of the two programmes, a consistent return from new farmers paying tax and revenue generated through conservation sites are being neglected.
The DA calls for urgent action to ensure that not only budgets are spent, but that the return for such expenditure is achieved.
If this trend continues agriculture and conservation will decline at great cost to Gauteng.