New CEO of the South African National Parks

Mr Fundisile Mketeni has been appointment as CEO of the South African National Parks (SANParks). Cabinet recently approved the appointment of Mketeni for a five year contract. Mketeni has extensive experience in conservation management. He has spearheaded the country’s biodiversity agenda for the last 10 years as the deputy director-general responsible for Biodiversity and Conservation in the Department of Environmental Affairs.

SANParks is the leading conservation authority in all national parks around this country, responsible for 3 751 113 hectares of protected land in 20 nationalparks. It was established in 1926, and is the leading conservation authority in South Africa. SANParks is responsible for 3,751,113 hectares of protected land in 21 National Parks across South Africa. The National Parks, each with their own characteristics, offer visitors an unparalleled diversity of adventure and tourism opportunities such as game viewing, bush walks, canoeing, and exposure to cultural and historical experiences.

“The Department would like to thank Mketeni for his excellent service and dedication to the conservation of our rich biological diversity,” said the Department. “We are looking forward to working with Mketeni as he moves SANParks into the future. In the face of the ongoing challenges of rhino poaching, we have faith in Mketeni’s abilities to address the scourge head-on.”

“I welcome the confidence placed on me by the SANParks Board, the Minister and the country as a whole. I am looking forward to serve the country and committed to continuing with the good work of positioning the organisation as a leader in conservation nationally, regionally and globally,” said Mketeni.


Career background

Mketeni holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management and has 25 years’ experience in the field of Environmental Management and Biodiversity and Conservation. He brings with him a wealth of experience in the development and management of protected areas, tourism development and management, conservation of biodiversity and public sector management. He started his career as a Trainee Manager and Manager for some of the EasternCape Reserves, later moving to SANParks as the Park Manager of the Addo Elephant National Park. He worked in Addo at a time when major tourism developments, concessions and community beneficiation initiatives were being undertaken. Mketeni’s career at SANParks saw him serves as the CEO for the 19 National Parks except the Kruger National Parks, and acted as Executive Director: Parks before taking up the position of DDG: Biodiversity and Conservation in the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2004.

He has spent the last 10 years with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) as the Deputy Director General (DDG): Biodiversity and Conservation. It is in this role that Mr Mketeni honed his skills on Policy and Legislation Development, Intergovernmental Coordination and Relations and International Negotiations and Relations. He served as a Board member of South African National Parks and Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority and is currently serving as a Board member of South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). Mketeni also played a leading role in the development and implementation of the country’s Elephant Management Policy.

Eleanor Momberg

 

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The status of SA smallholders

(Extracts from a parliamentary address by Mr Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’).

South Africa has adopted an approach that seeks to find markets for locally produced products and Africa accounts for 32 percent of our trade and is a growing market for agricultural produce, although it is from a low base as compared to the European markets. In China we have found a growing market for our agricultural produce. The Department of Trade and Industry has been instrumental in assisting producers in the wine industry with accessing marketing opportunities through international trade fairs in countries like China.

The recently released 2014 Statistics South Africa General Household Survey informs us that South Africa currently has 2.4 million households that practice some level of subsistence farming. We have two hundred and ninety nine thousand smallholder farmers. This represents an increase of 58 percent in the number of smallholder farmers since 2009.

The survey goes on to say that the number of smallholders that receive any form of support is 43, 000 which represents about 26 percent of all smallholder producers in the country. It further tells us that of these, 79 percent of smallholders rated government support as very useful; 18 percent somewhat useful and 3 percent not useful. While the StatsSAs General Household survey indicates that quality of support is favoured by most farmers, 26 percent of smallholder farmers reached represents a need for greater capacity. This tells us that we need to upscale our programmes to reach and support all smallholders. Working together with provinces, we will channel financial, inputs and human resources to broaden our support and reach of our smallholders.

To assist smallholder producers, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ transfers a significant portion of its budget to support programmes. These funds are directly transferred sent to provinces for programmes including CASP, Ilima/Letsema and LandCare. CASP aims at increasing farm output, especially for the beneficiaries of land reform, contributing towards the Fetsa Tlala food security initiative. It further aims to attract more women and young people into the sector. CASP has been allocated an amount of R1.861 billion, an amount of R460 million for Ilima/Letsema and R67.8 million for Land-Care. There is a study underway to look into monitoring the impacts of CASP and changes in its approach. Going forward, together with the provinces, we will realign the focusing and targeting of CASP. All of these are grants that are aimed at assisting smallholder producers, however, penetration needs to be maximised.
Growth sectors
Agricultures contribution to the Gross Domestic Product is about 2.7 percent which is viewed as far below the capacity of the sector and the levels of agricultural production we wish to see by 2030. The Presidents (Jacob Zuma) pronouncement in the State of the Nation Address to deliver on 1 million jobs is however integrally linked to unlocking the growth potential among key industries in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
The fisheries sector forms an important element of the Ocean Economy Strategy, Operation Phakisa. We anticipate that Operation Phakisa, which is still in incubation, will place marine resources central in the economy. Aquaculture development would ensure we close the fish protein gap that may be created by he declining marine capture fish resources. Under Operation Phakisa we plan to grow the aquaculture sector value from two billion rand, as according to our 2010 figures, to up R6 billion with a potential job creation of up to 210 000 by 2030.

 

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Zim revokes import licences

Zimbabwean farmers have commended government for revoking agriculture import licenses for fruit and vegetables from South Africa into the country, citing that the move would protect local farmers. Zimbabwe recently suspended the importation of these commodities as an intervention to boost local farm productivity.

The measure, announced by the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Joseph Made, aims to cushion local farmers’ against unfair or competition, amidst a proliferation of agricultural imports on the domestic market. The move, while hedging local farmers, would reportedly also help to trim the country’s swelling import bill, which includes other agricultural imports from neighbouring countries. The Zimbabwean government has been urged by some local stakeholders to enforce the import revocation to thwart the possible ‘illegal entry’ of produce into the country.

Case study on bans
However experts have warned that trade restrictions can contribute to a negative cycle of chronic under-investment in critical trade infrastructure from both the public and private sectors. According to Nicholas J. Sitko, who presented a paper on the effects of maize trade restrictions in Zambia at a seminar in Lusaka; explained that this contributes to high transactions costs of moving grain from surplus to deficit regions, high levels of grain spoilage, and resultantly high costs of maize for consumers and lower prices for producers. He highlighted that the opportunity costs of trade restrictions for governments and domestic economies as a useful case study.

Malawi’s experience in 2013 was cited as an example in which formal trade restrictions can facilitate the expansion of informal trade. The study found that trade restrictions instead embolden informal trade, which is a higher cost and not taxed. In September 2013 Malawi experienced an
unprecedented surge in informal maize trade from Zambia in the informal market, which coincided with the imposition of a formal export ban in Zambia. Sitko pointed out that a study found that between September to November 2013, 80 percent of the captured informal maize imports were from Zambia while Mozambique, the usual source of Malawi’s informal imports, only contributed 20 percent.

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Making market inroads

The importance of collective marketing in gaining market power has been demonstrated by smallholders in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, who have reportedly improved access to production inputs and income. Farmer organisation in these countries assisted their members by creating linkages between farmers and other  value-chain players.

This is according to findings of an external evaluation of efforts by the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) to increase productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers. The study focus on the work undertaken was between 2011 – 2013. The Dairy Association of Zambia have been very efficient in creating sustainable linkages between farmers and other value chain players, such as input suppliers,
service providers and milk processors. Through these linkages, farmers are able to access production inputs and finance timeously and on more favourable terms. This has helped to improve the productivity of the dairy farmers, shown by the increase in average daily production of milk from 366 litres in 2011 to 937 litres in 2013.

It has also been found that the Farmers’ Union of Malawi has enhanced accessibility to farm inputs for cotton smallholders, in terms of quality and affordability; by supporting the Cotton Farmers’ Association of Malawi to establish relationships with input suppliers and negotiate better deals for farmers. Both cotton and beef farmers under the National Livestock Producers Association of Malawi also received training, including on gross
margin analysis. Farmers are now more conscious of the importance of looking at farming as a business and factors to consider in price determination.

In the cotton sector, some farmers reported increases of up to 200% in yields from 400 to 800kg/hectares. Beef cattle farmers testified that they are now able to determine better prices for their cattle using costs they incur during production. In both cases, the importance of collective marketing in gaining market power was demonstrated.

Farmers’ of Pateque Zonal Union in Mozambique, a member of the Uniao Nacional de Camponeses, grow various vegetables on about 272 hectares of land. After a number of training sessions covering mulching, organic farming, value chain and marketing techniques amongst others, they have adopted new practices they learnt which have resulted in increased productivity.

Source: SACAU

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AGRA leadership change

Dr Agnes Kalibata, former Rwandan Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, is the new President of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), one of the continent’s biggest agricultural development organisations’. This follows the sudden resignation of Jane Karuku, who served as President of AGRA from April 2012 to September 2014. Her departure came shortly after the fourth African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), which Karuku attended last month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Announcing her departure AGRA Board of Directors Chairperson, Strive Masiyiwa, said Karuku plans to “pursue other opportunities.” “Under Ms Karuku’s leadership, AGRA has taken considerable strides in promoting the cause of agricultural transformation in Africa through the increased productivity of smallholder farmers,” he explained. Fellow board member Dr Kalibata, to serve as Interim President. She brings years of experience in agricultural development, most notably as Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources for Rwanda, where she led an agricultural transformation agenda focused on increasing smallholder productivity.
“This approach yielded impressive results including one of Rwanda becoming food secure and reducing poverty by near record levels,” Masiyiwa said in a statement. AGRA works in 17 African countries, with its head office in Nairobi, Kenya and maintains country offices in Ghana, Mali, Mozambique and Tanzania. Other countries where the organisation do work include South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso.

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