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 last Wednesday, Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said they already have concluded an extensive audit of these institutions.
“The audit carried out investigated comprehensively at the condition of infrastructure at these institutions, the academic and skills training programmes made available, their accreditation status, the governance structures in place and the financial and logistical systems in place,” she said.
Joemat-Pettersson explained the factors applied to the audit to evaluate these areas were informed by the accepted norms and standards for ATIs.
For the 2011/12 financial year, R50 million has been made accessible to the 12 Colleges of Agriculture, which will be put to use to deal with the gaps determined from the audit.
This financial year, far more emphasis is going to be on infrastructure improvement which includes revitalisation of computer laboratories at these institutions.
The department has been given R20 million funding via a joint venture with the Netherlands Institute for Capacity Building at Higher Education Institutions (NICHE).
“This undertaking will bolster the capacity of these colleges as Centres of Excellence, particularly the provision of training for smallholder producers in the country.
“We in addition have recruited the technical support of the Federal Republic of Germany in the growth and development of a national strategy relating to appropriate vocational training to be incorporated as part of the curricula of these colleges.
“When it comes to this financial year, we are going to speed up work towards the promulgation of the Agricultural Training Institute Bill, which will dictate a national model of governance for these colleges,” she explained.
The minister said forestry at the moment generates a huge number of jobs in rural areas, which includes the contribution of the private sector.
“I am positive that a good many more work opportunities can be produced 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 is to be utilized to pursue the specified outcomes.
“I am also excited to declare the fact that the United Nations has offered South Africa the chance to host the World Forestry Congress in 2015,” she said.
She described the fisheries sector as being a problematic and complex one, with huge financial interests involved.
“We have significantly improved our capacity to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and the department has launched an anti-poaching project in the Western Cape, financed via the Working for Fisheries Programme.
“This has allowed us to utilize 60 military veterans in the Overberg Region to serve as the eyes and ears of the government,” she said.
Source: BuaNews, sabc.co.za,