Pretoria – The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is in the process of transforming Colleges of Agriculture into national Agricultural Training Institutes (ATIs).
Tabling her Budget Vote Speech in Parliament on Wednesday, Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said they have completed a comprehensive audit of these institutions.
“The audit conducted looked comprehensively at the state of infrastructure at these institutions, the academic and skills training programmes offered, their accreditation status, the governance structures in place and the financial and logistical systems in place,” she said.
Joemat-Pettersson said the criteria used in the audit to assess these areas were informed by the approved norms and standards for ATIs.
For the 2011/12 financial year, R50 million has been made available to the 12 Colleges of Agriculture, which will be utilised to address the gaps identified through the audit.
This financial year, more focus will be on infrastructure improvement including revitalisation of computer laboratories at these institutions.
The department has received R20 million funding through a partnership with the Netherlands Institute for Capacity Building at Higher Education Institutions (NICHE).
“This project will strengthen the capacity of these colleges as Centres of Excellence, especially in the provision of training for smallholder producers in the country.
“We have also enlisted the technical assistance of the Federal Republic of Germany in the development of a national strategy on relevant vocational training to be incorporated as part of the curricula of these colleges.
“In this financial year, we will accelerate work towards the promulgation of the Agricultural Training Institute Bill, which will prescribe a national model of governance for these colleges,” she said.
The minister said forestry currently creates thousands of jobs in rural areas, including the contribution of the private sector.
“I am confident that many more jobs can be created in re-afforestation, saw-milling, charcoal production, timber, coppicing, Working on Fire and the Working for Forestry programmes… we have allocated R451.6 million to the Forestry Branch, which will be used to pursue the desired outcomes.
“I am also proud to announce that the United Nations has afforded South Africa the opportunity to host the World Forestry Congress in 2015,” she said.
She described the fisheries sector as being a challenging and complex one, with huge financial interests involved.
“We have dramatically increased our capacity to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and the department has launched an anti-poaching project in the [Western Cape], funded through the Working for Fisheries Programme.
“This has enabled us to deploy 60 military veterans in the Overberg Region to serve as the eyes and ears of the government,” she said. – BuaNews