House of Assembly: Vol108 - WEDNESDAY 3 MAY 1961
I move as an unopposed motion—
- (1) That the House at its rising on Wednesday, 10 May, adjourn until Monday, 15 May at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.; and
- (2) that the House at its rising on Friday, 26 May, adjourn until Monday, 5 June, at Three o’clock p.m.
In connection with the first part of the motion I just want to say that 11 May is Ascension Day and we never sit on that day. After consultations between the Whips, we agreed not to sit that Friday either, but to make up for it by sitting one Saturday earlier than usual towards the end of the Session. The practice is that we sit on the last Saturday of the Session. Now we will sit on the Saturday before that also, if it should be necessary to make up time.
In regard to the second part of the motion, I want to inform hon. members that it has been decided to take a photograph of Parliament. That will take place at 2.15 p.m. on the Monday and that will have been completed before the House meets at 3 p.m.
Bill read a first time.
First Order read: Third reading,—Unauthorized Use of Emblems Bill.
Bill read a third time.
Second Order read: Third reading,—Companies Amendment Bill.
Bill read a third time.
Third Order read: House to resume in Committee of Supply.
House in Committee:
[Progress reported on 2 May, when Votes Nos. 2 to 27, 39, 41 to 43, 45, 46 and the Estimates of Expenditure from Bantu Education Account had been agreed to and Vote No. 44.—“National Housing”, R3,725,000, had been put.]
Vote No. 44.—“National Housing”, as printed, put and agreed to.
Precedence given to Votes Nos. 36 to 38 (Agricultural Technical Services and Water Affairs).
On Vote No. 36.—“Agricultural Technical Services (Administration and National Services)”, R10,957,000,
Mr. Chairman, I would like the privilege of the half-hour. There is surely no doubt that the agricultural Votes are some of the most important Votes we can discuss under the Estimates. Nor is there any doubt that there is much concern in the country about the whole position of agriculture. That has already been said during this Session. We shall have to devote more attention to production costs, because production costs are increasing slowly but surely. Prices are falling, with the result that the farmers, and particularly the middle class and the smaller farmers, to-day find it very difficult to make a living. We shall have to farm more effectively and more scientifically and efficiently. We shall have to increase our production without increasing production costs, so that our margin of profit can be larger. Farmers will have to be trained to do so. They will have to be given more information in regard to better production methods. Research is of course being done, but is still lags behind. Not enough research is being done. Our officials are doing particularly good work, but much more will have to be done. We also know that during the last ten to 12 years a number of officials were appointed, many more than we had before, but there are still not enough to do the work. One of our greatest difficulties is that the results of the research done does not reach the farmers. Although there are periodicals like Farming in South Africa and others, and although use is made of the radio, for some reason the farmers do not make use of this information. Possibly it is their own fault to some extent, but whether that is so or not, methods will have to be found to ensure that this information reaches the farmers. The extension officers will regularly have to attend the farmers’ days and convey this information to the farmers, because to-day the position is that the majority of the younger farmers have not the knowledge which is available to them. It is also absolutely essential that farmers should receive more training, particularly in the form of short courses. Short courses have already been instituted, but I do not think there are enough of them and more facilities must be created for the farmers to be able to attend them. These courses should not be long, and there the farmer should be able to confine himself to certain subjects—I am thinking of the north-west now—like soil conservation and sheep farming, in which he is particularly interested. Then he will get a reasonable amount of training, but above all, he will learn there to make use of the information made available from time to time. Agricultural methods should be improved and soil conservation should be applied more speedily, or otherwise the future of our farmers will be anything but rosy.
Another form of short courses which is also essential is a course for the technical training of farmers, particularly in regard to machinery. The capital invested in agricultural machinery is in the vicinity of R600,000,000 and it is necessary that the farmers should receive training in that direction in order to be able to repair their machinery themselves. Particularly the diesel tractor is a fairly complicated machine and in nine out of ten cases if it goes wrong it is necessary for the farmer to ring the garage to send somebody out to the farm to come and repair it. It is necessary for the farmer to have a certain amount of knowledge in order to do repairs himself. I believe it is essential that the farm workers should also have some training, not all the farm labourers but particularly those who work with machinery, because we know that the depreciation on our tractors is particularly high and plans should be evolved to give these labourers an opportunity to receive training so that their labour will be more efficient. It is the duty of the Government to see to it that these services are provided.
Soil erosion is one of our most serious problems to-day. Many districts have already been declared to be soil conservation areas, but the progress is much too slow. For the last 15 years we have still been losing between 100,000 and 200,000 morgen of our best soil which is being totally destroyed every year. We will therefore have to have more extension officers and speed up the work in that regard. I know the Minister will get up and quote figures as to how many we had ten years ago and how many officials we have to-day. We are glad of the increase, but the fact remains that there are not enough yet and that is one of our greatest problems. To the extent that soil erosion increases, it costs increasingly more to combat it, and this is a problem which we should tackle much more seriously. I believe that the Government is not tackling the problems as energetically as it said it would. In addition, our country is subject to extreme vagaries of climate, droughts and floods, and the sooner we apply soil conservation the sooner we will derive the benefit from it and the smaller will be the loss we will suffer. When once the ground has been reclaimed, a drought or a flood causes less damage. The faster we do this work, the less it will cost in the long run.
Another matter which I would like to touch on is in regard to wool packs. Recently there was an increase in the price from 15s. to 25s. I understand that was due to a shortage of jute in Pakistan and we had difficulty in obtaining jute from them. The first supplied their other clients, and after much trouble we got some jute at an increased price.
Order! Hon. members should not talk so loudly.
I would like to know from the Minister what progress has been made at Roodeplaat in connection with stokroos and whether the fibre can be produced economically, because one is concerned when one sees that the price of the wool pack can increase so considerably in such a short time, and in view with our relations with India and Pakistan there is always the possibility that if there is a shortage of jute we will suffer.
Another matter I also want to touch on is meat The quality of the meat we market is not very high. In the latest report of the Meat Board they say that only 10 per cent of the cattle are of super or prime quality.
But the consumers do not want prime meat.
Then we must educate them to do so. The consumers in other countries want it and our people must be educated to want it as well. But what is more, there is a loss in weight. The same applies to sheep. Only ½ per cent of our sheep are super grade and 20 per cent prime grade. The farmers must be encouraged to produce a better grade of meat, and in order to do so they should receive assistance.
Order! That hon. member at the back there is speaking so loudly that I cannot hear the speaker.
We understand that in ten or 15 years there will be a serious shortage of meat in this country, and the farmers must be encouraged to produce better meat. It should also be possible to feed cattle and sheep with the surplus maize in order to get the higher quality and weight which will compensate for the short-fall. But this also means that in times of drought these animals will be off the land. One prevents the grazing being trodden out, and at the same time one helps the maize farmer to get rid of his surpluses.
I should also like the Minister to tell us something about the position in regard to foot-and-mouth disease. I understand that there is a new outbreak in Waterberg, right outside the cordon. It is a serious matter that this disease should break out again, because it is a very serious disease. We appreciate the attempts which are being made. We realize the difficulties, because if it is spread by wild animals it is very difficult to control it, and under those circumstances we shall have to apply strict measures in order eventually to eradicate it. I understand that there are new vaccines available which are still being tested, but which can possibly eradicate this disease. I would like the Minister to make a statement and say what the position is. I know that in the days when scabies (brandsiek) was so serious, we adopted stringent measures. We applied simultaneous dipping and dipped every sheep in the country, with the result that the disease was practically wiped out, and we shall have to adopt stricter measures to eradicate foot-and-mouth disease, because we cannot allow it to spread, and if game also spread the disease research should be concentrated on that aspect, and we shall have to do everything in our power to eradicate this disease.
I do not wish to belittle what the hon. member for Gardens (Mr. Connan) has said but all he did was to touch upon something here and there and to ask questions covering a wide field and I do not know how the Minister is going to reply to him.
I should like to say something about the area in which I live and in which he also lives. I should like to discuss agricultural colleges, particularly Grootfontein. In this regard I wish to congratulate the Minister as well as his predecessor. We know that Grootfontein was closed down during the war. The United Party was not greatly interested in agriculture at that time. A stop was put to all research into soil erosion and it was this Government that reopened the whole question. In the first place I wish to congratulate the Minister on his programme of development in combating soil erosion. I want to ask one thing, however: There is great delay. When farms are planned it takes a long time before the farmers can make a start. I think this is something that should be expedited. I think that in view of all the good work that has been done—and here I want to refer to the good work that has been done at Vlekpoort: Vlekpoort is so improved to-day that you can hardly recognize it as the Vlekpoort of 12 years ago—approval should be expedited. I want to thank the Minister and his predecessor for the good work they have done at Vlekpoort. As far as their farming operations are concerned we shall have to see whether they are practical farmers, but I leave it at that. I also wish to congratulate the Minister on the progress they have made there in respect of stock breeding. At one stage stock breeding was second consideration at Grootfontein, but there has been a great improvement over the past few years and I wish to congratulate them on the quality of the sheep that they breed there. They bred a ram there which was called Ogies and this ram was a credit to South Africa. Unfortunately Ogies is no longer there, but I trust that in view of the good blood that they have there, the Government will continue to breed stock there and that they will now sell the second generation of the rams which they imported from Australia. I do not think there is anything to bind them to the old agreement, and I should like to have the Minister’s views on this. I want to congratulate Grootfontein on the research work they have done in connection with Dorper sheep for example. They have bred a sheep which is adapted to South African conditions and I think we should congratulate them on that achievement. I should like to ask my friends in this House to read the 1958-9 report so that they can know what is being done there. As far as the combating of erosion and stock breeding are concerned, I should like to ask the Minister to provide more hostel accommodation. We know there has been a slight decrease in the number of students, but we hope the number will increase in future. Grootfontein has the best shearing sheds in the southern hemisphere, and that is due to this Government. If my friends read the various reports, they will see what is being done. The hon. member for Gardens will be surprised. It seems to me that he has not read the reports because if he had he would have known what had been achieved in the field of research as far as wool was concerned. Grootfontein was the first centre to conduct research into wool. Subsequently it was extended and it is now being conducted on an international scale. The International Wool Secretariat is doing a great deal of research to-day, but Grootfontein started it and we hope that research will be continued on a larger scale. I hope the Minister will see to it that that research is extended. I also want to say that the students who receive their training at Grootfontein set an example to the country and we are proud of them. Let me mention a few subjects which they study there: sheep-breeding, stockbreeding, dairy farming and grazing research. In this respect I also wish to congratulate the Government and Grootfontein on the research work that they have done, and also the research work that is done at Vlekpoort. It is amazing to see what they do at Vlekpoort. Whereas formerly there were dongas and the slopes of the mountain were bare with no grazing, it is beautiful country to-day with birds and water in the valleys and vegetation on the mountain slopes. I just want to ask the Minister to be careful with the stockbreeding that is done there; they should not expand too much in that direction. I think that is something which can become slightly dangerous if it is not watched carefully. I have already heard people complain about that. As far as Vlekpoort is concerned I want to ask the Minister to see to it that they keep a check on jackals. The position has improved considerably. I know the Minister will continue to assist the farmers, but we do not want the Government’s jackals to devour our farmers’ sheep. The Government should keep a check on the jackals. [Time limit.]
The hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker) has repeatedly congratulated the hon. the Minister. You would say it was the Minister’s birthday and if that is the case I should also like to congratulate him.
The hon. member reproached the hon. member for Gardens (Mr. Connan) for only having mentioned the main points of criticism from this side of the House, but it is impossible to gauge the real state of affairs in the Minister’s Department from the speech of the hon. member for Cradock in which he congratulated the Minister so often. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction and a great amount of criticism. This progress to which the hon. member has referred is not evident from the departmental reports and where does the criticism come from? Criticism is expressed at the agricultural congresses, and the people who voice their opinion there are not only farmers and farmers’ representatives but responsible officials of the Department also voice their opinion.
United Party supporters, too.
Very well, in that case they are even more responsible. If you listen to what those people have to say the future is not, as rosy as it is made out to be. I want to mention a few things. Listen to what Dr. K. Penzhorn, the Assistant Director of Technical Services, has to say. This is an extract from Organized Agriculture of August 1960. He was addressing the Eastern Province Agricultural Union and he said this—
That was the complaint of the hon. member for Gardens, namely, that, in respect of the soil conservation programme, where the Minister told us about the thousands of morgen that had been planned and that had been inspected by technical officials, nothing was done to follow up the planning.
The farmers do not carry it out.
There are hundreds of farmers in the constituency of the hon. member who are trying to carry out the schemes that have been prescribed but what is the position in so far as the technical officials are concerned? In the past there used to be an information officer and a technical officer at Richmond. Where are those people who have to give advice to-day? Where are the people who have to visit the farmers and advise them? Everybody knows that soil conservation and grazing control and rotational cropping are still in the embryo stage in South Africa to-day. Many people do not as yet appreciate the value of that and they require the necessary guidance and that guidance can only come from the trained person with his B.Sc. degree in agriculture, or the person who subsequently went to Grootfontein for a three months’ course or a two years’ course covering sheep and wool farming. Those are the facts. Even the Minister of Finance found it necessary some time ago to issue a warning. He was addressing a gathering at Bienne Donne and, according to a newspaper report dated 11 November 1960, he said the following—
Yet the hon. member for Cradock congratulates the Minister, while 80 per cent of the 2,500 to 3,000 farmers who enter the industry every year have not had any agricultural training.
Yes, but I am one of the fortunate people who even without any agricultural training do much better than the hon. member for Wakkerstroom (Mr. Martins). This is a problem which the Minister should investigate. We know that there are not sufficient facilities for agricultural training and that most of the agricultural colleges lack adequate accommodation, both in respect of classrooms and hostels. The fact that those colleges are full to-day does not mean to say that more people are entering the farming industry, people who are better trained. Many people with degrees in agriculture do not enter the agricultural industry. No, they join some commercial firm or other like Capex. That is a matter to which the Minister should attend because the farmers in South Africa are not increasing in numbers. When you read the report of the commission on the depopulation of the platteland you find that the number of farmers is gradually decreasing. What will the position be if even those people who do enter the agricultural industry lack formal agricultural training? The result will be a deterioration in the standard of farming and a decline in productivity, and yet the hon. member for Cradock stands up and congratulates the Minister as though the Minister has no problems to solve.
You are talking nonsense.
In that case I am pleased that I am talking nonsense, because that means that the Minister has problems. He was the one who created the impression that there were no problems. What is the position as far as veterinary surgeons are concerned. What is the position in Europe as far as veterinary surgeons are concerned? The ratio between veterinary surgeons and big and small stock in the Union is one to 100,000, whereas in Europe it is one to 5,000, and in America one to 12,000. That is not information that you find in any agricultural report; that information was revealed in a statement made by Dr. J. A. de Kock, according to the Wolboer of October 1960. What does Dr. de Kock say? He says—
Listen to this—
We have done all those things; we have controlled stock diseases; we have erected buildings …
The Department of Agriculture.
On a point of order, Sir, we find it very difficult to hear the hon. member due to the noise on the cross benches.
Order! I asked hon. members a moment ago not to converse so loudly, but there is a continual droning of voices. I appeal to hon. members please to converse softer or not to converse at all.
To converse loudly.
Order! I did not ask the hon. member for Somerset East (Mr. Vosloo) to make a comment on what I had said.
Dr. de Kock says that having created all these facilities we lack the staff to work in those laboratories. We had an announcement recently that the salaries of veterinary surgeons would be increased considerably but I wonder whether the position will change even with that improvement. The following significant remark also appears in this report—
And that is exactly what is happening. They are all in the cities to-day and big magisterial districts in the platteland are without a single veterinary surgeon. [Time limit.]
The entire Transkei.
I think the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher) has this afternoon forgotten for a moment that he represents Port Elizabeth (West), because his whole argument amounts to this that the Government does not do enough for the farmers. When he returns to Port Elizabeth (West) he will no doubt remind his voters that the Government only sees to the welfare of the farmers and that it does nothing for the poor urban dweller.
Is that what you do?
We as farmers are very grateful to the Department of Agricultural Technical Services for what they have done for the farmers. When we do that we do not wish to create the impression that the Department cannot do more, but it has performed miracles with the means at its disposal.
I want to make a few remarks in connection with the dairy industry in South Africa. The dairy industry plays a very big part in the country to-day because in terms of production it is the third largest industry of all agricultural industries. However, the entire dairy industry is in an unsound economic position to-day because this industry has been caught in the web of high production costs. As happened in many other countries during the war years, the Government of this country started to subsidize consumers’ prices in respect of dairy products. During the year 1939-40 an amount of £39,000 was paid out in the form of subsidies. In 1947-8 it rose to £519,900 and it continued to rise until it reached £1,338,524 in 1957-8. I am giving these figures in pounds, Mr. Chairman, because we still dealt in pounds at that time. There has been such increased production in every type of dairy product that we are faced with big surpluses to-day, surpluses which have to be exported at a loss. For example, we shall have to export approximately 12,000,000 lb. of butter this year at a loss of 12yc per lb. It is obvious, therefore, that the solution of this problem does not lie in higher food subsidies, but that it lies in rationalizing the entire dairy industry so that the costs of production can be considerably reduced. The production costs in the dairy industry are high because the production per cow is exceptionally low. According to census and statistics our production per cow in 1954 was as low as 240 gallons per cow per lactation of 300 days. Compare this with countries such as the United Kingdom and Holland for example. In 1954 in the United Kingdom it was 700 gallons as against our 240, and in 1957 it had risen to 878 gallons per cow per lactation. In 1954 in Holland it was 827 and in 1957 it had risen to 843 gallons. This is indeed an alarming state of affairs and the main reason for this state of affairs in my opinion is due to the use of poor quality bulls, poor feeding, poor management and venereal disease, of which the first mentioned is probably the most important. The Livestock and Meat Industries Act, No. 48 of 1934, and Act No. 49 of 1946 tried to improve this position but I am afraid they did not succeed in doing so because in my opinion the approach was too negative. The approach was to castrate bulls that were unsuitable, but those bulls were promptly replaced by scrub bulls. I think a sounder approach would be for the Government to assist the stock farmer to acquire stud bulls which will lead to a reduction in production costs. It will be a hopeless task to try to make a sufficient number of stud bulls available and to subsidize them so that they can serve all the cow herds in the country. We simply do not have a sufficient number of stud bulls available and apart from that it would cost a fortune to make the necessary bulls available and to subsidize them. Fortunately artificial insemination offers a solution to the problem. We find, for instance, that in Holland 60 per cent of the milk cows are artificially inseminated and 58 per cent in England. That is why the production figures in those countries have risen as considerably as they have in Holland from 7,768 lb. milk with 3.56 per cent butterfat in 1946-7 to 8,433 lb. milk with 3.7 per cent butterfat in 1956-7. In Britain, Wales and England it has risen from 7,040 lb. milk with 3.79 per cent butterfat in 1947 to 8,783 lb. milk with 3.85 per cent butterfat in 1957. We have the same position in the United States. In 1957 the milk cow population was the lowest it had ever been during the past ten years, but they had the highest production they had ever had in the country. We have the same position in countries like France, West Germany, Denmark and others. We find, for example, that in 1958 the United States artificially inseminated more than 6,500,000 cows, in France 3,500,000, in West Germany 1.863,000, in Great Britain 1,847,000, in Denmark 1,500,000 and in Holland 1,100,000. Apart from the tremendous increase in production which this method of artificial insemination—using stud bulls—has brought about in those countries, artificial insemination is also the only effective method of combating venereal diseases amongst cows. That is why I hope we will expand further in that direction in this country. Fortunately we have a Minister today who is fully aware of the position and who will not leave it at that. That was why he appointed a commission of inquiry in February 1960 under the chairmanship of Dr. van der Wath, a commission which started work immediately and which submitted its report as early as December in which they stated that a programme to improve the quality of our livestock should be embarked upon. I appeal to the hon. the Minister to accept the report of that commission and to carry out its recommendations in the very near future, because I maintain that if the Government were to spend one-tenth of the money which it spends on subsidies to-day in respect of dairy products, on placing artificial insemination on a sound basis and on subsidizing stud bulls in areas where artificial insemination cannot be introduced because they are too distant, within the next ten years it will no longer be necessary to pay those subsidies, and the consumer of South Africa will also be in a position to obtain his dairy products at a lower price without the necessity of the Government subsidizing those food products. I am convinced that the solution of the problem is to be found in this direction because it is impossible for us to continue to export our dairy products at a loss. We shall have to devise ways and means to produce on a more economic basis, and the obvious way is to improve our livestock and to eliminate venereal disease by means of artificial insemination.
I do not intend to follow the hon. member for Paarl (Mr. W. C. Malan). I may just say that it is fortunate that in the milk industry they have surpluses. We seem to have a lot of surpluses in this country. But I want to talk about something else, the shortage of which is creating a great problem. Sir, in an earlier debate under the Vote of the Minister of Agricultural Economics and Marketing we raised the burning question of wool packs. I want to leave that just for a moment and ask the Minister if he will take the Committee in his confidence to-day and give us a real report as to what has been done during the last ten to 12 years to raise sufficient fibre to manufacture, not only wool packs, but grain bags; in other words, what real steps has the Government taken to make South Africa independent of other countries We know that our original difficulty started when India imposed sanctions against us. We are in a difficult position to-day, and we may well find at any time now that jute or some suitable substitute might not be available for us. When the Minister of Agricultural Economics and Marketing replied the other day, he said that this matter did not fall under his Department, but that he thought that certain experiments were afoot. I want to take the matter further. I think the Minister owes it to the farmers to tell us what acreage is at present under suitable fibre. We should also be told what tonnage is being produced under these experiments at the present time, as well as what can be produced in the foreseeable future. Sir, this is a matter of the utmost importance, and when I hear the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker) and various members on that side thanking the Minister for what he has done, I wonder why they do not touch upon this matter which so vitally affects such a very large industry of our country. We are at the moment in the position that jute prices in Pakistan have risen to such a level that the producer in this country is faced with an increase of plus minus 8s. to 10s. a pack from 1 June. On their requirements that means an additional expenditure of R800,000 or R1,000,000. We cannot face this sort of thing lightly. We know that we have had the spinning mills running here for nearly ten years. What help have they had from the Government? What energetic contribution has the Government made to encourage the growth of fibres from which we can manufacture our own requirements both for our wool industry and for our grain industry? We want to know what practical steps are being taken. We cannot keep on shelving this problem. If the farmers do not know it, I am prepared to tell them that at this stage they are subsidizing the wool pack; in other words, they are subsidizing the mills. I said earlier on that I knew that they were patient and that they wanted to be independent. They want to know that their produce is assured of clothing when it is ready to be exported or used in this country. We cannot let a matter of such great importance just drift from year to year. I recently heard that even the stokroos, which was looked upon at one time as a possible outlet, is now being given up by farmers in some areas; they say that it is a waste of time to produce it because they have no assured outlet for it. Sir, we know that in South Africa some 400,000 wool packs are being manufactured. Practically all those wool packs are being manufactured from imported jute, and we then import the balance of some 600,000, and we average the price. When I was on the Jute Advisory Board I was one of those who said that under no circumstances should these mills be abandoned, that we must keep them going, but why are we being so slow in creating the material to make it possible for those mills to produce sufficient wool packs and grain bags for our country? That to my mind is a very serious matter, and I do hope that the Minister will be able to tell us to-day what steps are being taken. I hope he will not give us the same sort of answer that we have had, namely that experiments are afoot, but that he will be able to give us something positive. That he will be able to tell us at what stage we can look forward to the necessary provision being made, so that we can be independent. If sanctions are imposed against us, we will be back to the period—and God forbid that we should go to that period again—when we were confined to using second-hand wool packs and second-hand grain bags, and when all kinds of experiments had to be resorted to. This has cost the producer a tremendous amount in the past. It has been detrimental to our wool which we send overseas in second-hand wool packs, dirty packs and all sorts of packs. Sir, we feel jealous of the products of our country, and we claim that our wool is one of the best clips produced in the world. Do not let us be placed in a position like this again. I think it is up to the Minister to tell us what steps have been taken in an endeavour to overcome this difficulty and to make South Africa independent.
I should like to draw the Minister’s attention to a few matters. In the first place, I should like to know what progress has been made with the tests in order to prevent animals which eat green lucerne from getting blown up. We know that certain tests have been made by administering certain oils to the animals before they go to graze on the lucerne-lands, but evidently no effective method has yet been evolved to combat the fatal results from grazing on green lucerne. If we can get something effective to eliminate this danger, I think the farmers of the Union will surely erect a monument to the Minister. It causes tremendous damage, but the fact remains that lucerne is something we simply cannot do without.
Then I would like to come to the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher). The hon. member contends that the Government does very little to assist the farmer. That is not the case and he ought to know it. The hon. member said something which negatived his own theory which he tried to propound here. He alleged that the number of farmers was decreasing in terms of the report of the commission which investigated the depopulation of the platteland. If that is the case, and I concede that it is the case, there is other evidence which proves that the Government does its best to assist in putting the farmers on a sound basis and in helping them to farm on a sound basis. I have here, e.g., an extract dated 19 April 1961—
Now I come to the other point—
If the Government had not given the necessary information and guidance through its extension officers to the smaller number of farmers we have in the Union to-day, it would have been impossible for this smaller number of farmers, in view of the fact that the prices of agricultural products are falling, to produce more in terms of money than in any previous year in the history of South Africa. Therefore that controverts the hon. member’s allegation that the Minister is not doing enough for the farmers. I am not saying that he cannot do more, but in all humility I want to say this: The Almighty could have created the earth in one day but He took six days to do it. The Minister cannot do everything in one or two or three years. A tremendous amount has been done in the way of giving guidance in order to expand agriculture, as these figures prove.
Now there is a matter I would like the Minister to consider seriously, namely the eradication of weeds. It is a matter I feel very strongly about, because I see great danger for our farmers in future as the result of the increasing threat of noxious weeds. I have here an extract also dated 19 April, which refers to a certain Mr. Steytler, the Head of the Department of Agriculture at Potchefstroom, to whom the eradication of noxious weeds was entrusted. He refers in the first place to jointed cactus and says that there is to-day 500,000 morgen of land infested with jointed cactus and that more than 100 farms have been infested to such an extent that the Government had to intervene because the farmer could not cope with it. But then he makes the disturbing statement that the people in the Northern Provinces are now planting jointed cactus in their rock gardens, which is a serious threat. Sir, if we are going to allow jointed cactus to be taken from the areas in which it is concentrated now to the Northern Provinces to be planted in rockeries, it can mean only one thing, viz. that the whole of the country will eventually be infested with jointed cactus. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have also been spent in combating prickly pear. Unfortunately that weed is spreading extensively again. The Government is tackling the eradication of jointed cactus so seriously that the sprays it has available are evidently not enough to make it available to combat prickly pear which is spreading increasingly. I want to ask the Minister to give serious attention to this matter, and not to allow those parts of the country where prickly pear has been eradicated again to be infested by it. That is simply unthinkable, because then all the work which was done years ago and which had good results will have to be tackled again. But there is another weed which causes me much concern and that is the thistle. Sir, it is a weed, but I think there are many farmers who do not know that it is a weed. I think that many of them do not recognize it when they see it, and the way in which that weed is spreading causes me great concern. It is spreading so fast that if the farmer neglects to combat it properly—and there are many who do so, mostly through ignorance—it will become a tremendous problem in the near future. It is a weed which spreads terribly quickly. You can clean your farm to-day, but if you go over it a month later you will find that there is more thistle than you eradicated the first time. [Time limit.]
I would like to ask the hon. the Minister what expansion is covered by the new item on page 194 under” General”, an amount of R107,000. It looks like quite a large expansion and I would like to ask the hon. the Minister to tell us what that stands for and what it covers, so that we may perhaps discuss it at a later stage. Then under Vote F, on page 196, I notice there that for the year 1960-1 R137,050 was spent on veterinary services whereas for the coming year only the amount of R85,250 is estimated to be spent. I wonder why there is this big drop? I hope it is because the Minister expects that we are going to have less stock diseases, because the drop in the amount is under that sub-heading. Is the reason that last year there was some specific outbreak? Will the Minister give us an explanation? Coming to G “Crops and pastures”, it seems to me that a small amount is provided. Does that cover the subsidies for pastures and does it cover the Government scheme to encourage the farmer to plant pastures rather than have a continual grain cropping on the same land? There was a scheme to introduce animal husbandry on some of those farms which have gone onto almost one-crop cropping, but anyway using the same land year after year for grain cropping, which has led to the detriment of that soil.
The next item I want to raise is the expansion required in respect of the Cedara School of Agriculture. We do not only need more accommodation for men, but we very badly need accommodation for women. Miss Miller, who for many years conducted a women’s agricultural college in Harrismith, a unique institution, did a fine job of work and many women were trained there who would have become wives of farmers and as a consequence have been a great help to their husbands, or in other cases they have gone home as single women and helped their parents in running the farms. Knowledge is always a very fine thing and I think it is a good thing if we give our women an opportunity to be trained. When the school closed down some 18 months ago, Cedara took on the finishing of the training of those who had had some training and advanced some way in their course. I think it is time that we should say that provision must be made for women. They should have the right to go to an agricultural college and we should make provision for them. To-day women are entering all forms of commercial life and I do not see why women should not have the facility of being properly trained and get the necessary knowledge, because it helps the women who go there and pass out to make better wives to farmers, and even if they marry townsmen at least they understand the problems of the farmer. I do hope the hon. Minister will give this very full consideration during the coming year. It is very necessary and I think such provision ought to be made for our women.
I come to soil conservation. As I have said earlier this year on another occasion, our rivers are still running red or brown, according to the colour of the soil, as a result of the amount of soil in our rivers during the rainy season. I know the hon. the Minister will tell us, as he has done in past years, of the thousands of soil conservation areas that have been declared. One farmer in the Standerton area, which was declared a long time ago, told me that after applying to have his farm planned he waited two years before he could get an engineer on his farm, and he only got an engineer then because he went to private enterprise and got a company to plan his farm and help him carry out the work envisaged in that plan in respect of soil conservation works, because they had the heavy machinery. It is well known that the average farmer cannot afford the heavy machinery that is necessary where the contours of the land are very heavy and where there is heavy erosion. Having completed the work by private enterprise, he applied for the subsidy, and when he spoke to me he had already been waiting a year for a departmental official to come and pass the works for the subsidy. I can give the hon. the Minister that man’s name. I am not trying to make any party political issue of the matter. I am trying to deal with this objectively, because it is very essential that our soil conservation should be pushed to the full, and if we can get private enterprise to come in and help the farmers, then if anybody should get some priority to having subsidies passed, it should be those people who are helping themselves. I would like to ask the hon. the Minister, furthermore, what is being done in relation to our watersheds and the protection of our watersheds. I know when the Government takes over by proclamation a river and all its watersheds, the Minister then can enforce certain control. But there are many watersheds, or parts of watersheds in respect of some of our rivers which fall in Bantu areas or in areas where a group of farms are owned by the Native people in their own personal capacity. Do those people come under the ordinary soil conservation schemes in these areas? Because where farmers’ associations have planned schemes and have formed soil conservation committees, in many instances they find they cannot deal with these particular areas because they are being farmed by Bantu. Will the hon. Minister tell me whether he is responsible for Native reserves and Native locations, or Native privately owned land, or is it the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development? Because somebody is falling down on control. We are still having very steep slopes in our watersheds ploughed, and some of them ploughed deeply, very steep slopes indeed. I refer to actual farms in the Kokstad area, in the Umzimkulu area, which you see from the national road, where you have new land taken over from the European owners, taken over by the Native Trust or the Government for the settlement of Natives, where new virgin soil, steep slopes only used for grazing by European farmers, are not only being cultivated—some are so steep that not even a donkey can walk sideways on them and plough the land; the land is being hoed by women, and in one year, at the outside two, that soil goes to the sea. I think that we should step in to see that that soil, that very important top-soil, is saved to the country and that the frightening erosion that is going on is not allowed to continue. Because, Mr. Chairman, with soil conservation is tied up the whole of the expansion in South Africa, because if our water supplies run short, it stops our commerce and industry expanding. The Minister as Minister of Water Affairs has proclaimed the Umgeni Valley and its watersheds as coming under Government control, and soil erosion can now be stopped, and it is being stopped satisfactorily I think in all European-owned areas, but are the necessary steps being taken in the areas on that river (which are considerable), which are under the control of the Bantu? Mr. Chairman, we will only be able to expand commerce and industry to the extent that we prevent soil erosion and go in for soil conservation. [Time limit.]
The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher) took it amiss when the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker) thanked the hon. the Minister for what has been done by his Department. He said that while the hon. member for Cradock was thanking the hon. the Minister, the Minister and his Department were being criticized outside of the House by the farmers and at agricultural congresses and even by officials. His criticism amounts in brief to there being a shortage of manpower. That was all the criticism the hon. member could actually voice, namely that there is a shortage of manpower. I ask the hon. member whether he now wants to blame the hon. the Minister and his Department for the shortage of manpower? Is the hon. member not realistic enough to be able to realize what the position is? I think the hon. the Minister and the Government have done everything possible to obtain the necessary manpower to provide the that training facilities have been provided and that those facilities have been extended during the past few years. The hon. member even mentioned how salaries have been improved. Those are the essential measures that can be adopted. All possible efforts have been made to obtain even technicians from overseas in order to supplement the shortage of manpower. The Government and the hon. the Minister surely cannot be blamed for that shortage of manpower. These matters should be considered more realistically. We have here a population of 14,000,000 of whom 3,000,000 are Whites and it is the 3,000,000 Whites who have to supply the manpower for all the work that has to be done in this regard. Perhaps we have tarried too long in giving training to the non-Whites in order that they may serve their own needs but to-day every possible effort is being made to make up that backlog and to train the non-Whites to provide for their own needs and to do the work in their own areas among their own people. Mention has been made of the degradation of agriculture. But the facts refute the allegations of the hon. member. The hon. member for Kimberley (North) (Mr. H. T. van G. Bekker) has already pointed out that there is no retrogression in the sphere of agriculture. There is a decrease in the number of farmers but agriculture is by no means retrogressing. There is evidence of a marked improvement. Not only has the number of agricultural products been increased during the past few years …
Then why must the Government assist the Land Bank so often?
The hon. member knows that there has been a drought which lasted for four years, and even for six years in some parts. The hon. member knows about the unfavourable climatic conditions which have struck many people for two and three consecutive seasons. And there is also the fluctuation of the markets. There is, for example, the difficulties experienced by the citrus farmers because of poor prices overseas. Those are matters which are beyond the control of the Government. But the fact remains that production has increased and so has the production per morgen. That is evidence of progress and if one visits the agricultural shows throughout the country one will see what is being done by the farmers; the types of cattle on display there are of the very highest quality. The hon. member is talking through his hat when he says that agriculture is going backwards. I think it is time that we stop such fatuousness in an attempt to criticize. Let us rather also mention some of the good things being done in the country. I think that the average farmer in South Africa compares very favourably with the farmer overseas. Farming practices in South Africa need not take second place to any of the farming methods in other countries. As far as the Department of Agriculture is concerned I think it compares very favourably with any Department of Agriculture in the world. In fact, there are many of the overseas Governments who watch the activities of our Department of Agriculture with great interest. A tremendous amount is being done. The Department of the hon. the Minister must in the first place provide for the training of the people. That is being done. There are the agricultural faculties where excellent training is provided. There are the research institutions, some of which are world renowned. There is Onderstepoort, an institution where research of world fame is being done. There is the research being done at Bienne Donne and at the Nelspruit Sub-tropical Research Station. There are places of research which are known throughout the world and which are highly respected for their good work. Those training and research institutions are doing excellent work and provide the necessary guidance to the farmers of the country. It is admitted that there is a shortage of manpower but excellent extension work is being done by the available manpower. Excellent extension work is also being done through the medium of publications. In this regard I want to say that in my opinion the farmers should be criticized for not making sufficient use of the privileges they have of applying the results of research to their farming. Farmers’ Days are held regularly at Bienne Donne. I understand the attendance is very good there, but then there are also Farmers’ Days at other centres where the attendance is very poor. I have, for example, on several occasions attended such days at the Mara Research Station where research is done in cattle breeding and one is absolutely amazed at the small handful of people who avail themselves of the opportunity to obtain the necessary guidance there and of seeing what is being done to improve cattle breeding. Farming in South Africa is an excellent publication which should be in every farmer’s home and which should be read by all. Not enough people are availing themselves of the opportunities of obtaining the best information for improving their farming.
We agree, but should something not be done to bring the information to the farmer?
The Department is doing whatever it can but the farmer in turn should also be alert and the hon. member and I as Members of Parliament should also do our share by bringing these things to the attention of the farmers through farmers’ meetings. I do it. The Department cannot visit or contact each person individually. The farming community can do much more to apply and benefit from the fruits of research. There is Onderstepoort where they manufacture vaccines for cattle diseases. Reports reveal that more than 1,000,000 head of cattle and more than 3,000,000 sheep and goats die each year and I want to allege that many of those animals can be saved if the people would only use the necessary remedies which are obtainable from Onderstepoort at very low cost. I am very glad to see that anthrax has now been declared a disease in most parts of the country for which injections must be given, because every year large numbers of cattle die from anthrax and it is not necessary that a single animal should die, if only the people would take the necessary steps to prevent the disease. We have diseases like horse sickness, blue tongue and pulpy kidney, all of them diseases which can be prevented if only farmers would make use of the vaccines available to them at low prices. We can increase our cattle population considerably if we prevent those diseases by using the available vaccines.
Mention has also been made of foot-and-mouth disease. The hon. member for Gardens (Mr. Connan) asked that very strict measures should be adopted to combat that disease. The hon. member obviously does not live in an infected foot-and-mouth area and does perhaps not realize under what strict control measures the poor farmers have been placed in those areas. Unfortunately strict measures must be adopted, sometimes a little too strict as far as the farmers are concerned. When a farming community is placed under quarantine for two years and not a single beast may be moved from their farms, as has happened in my area, they are placed in a very difficult position. But we agree that the necessary steps must be taken to combat the disease. Hon. members may know that the Department is at present busy erecting a fence on the boundaries of the Kruger National Park in an attempt to restrict the movement of game. [Time limit.]
I was extremely interested in the reaction of the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker) to the remarks made by the hon. member for Gardens (Mr. Connan). I want to take the first five points that he made, and I want to ask any farmer on that side to say that they do not represent actual facts in regard to what is happening to-day. The first is that research is lagging behind. Sir, if it is lagging behind, it is because the technical manpower is not available, the trained manpower cannot be found to carry on research which is essential in this country. The second point is the veterinary services, in respect of which we are badly served, as indicated by other speakers. And the veterinary services that we have are usually located where they can be of the least service in many instances to stock farmers. The third point is the improvement of advanced methods of production. We are on the road to advanced methods of production, but we are limited there because of the increasing cost which has to be borne by the farmers, which makes it difficult to make the headway we should. On the contrary, I would like this Committee to take into consideration that under your soil conservation schemes, farmers are all limited to a control of their stock. How can you make rapid headway under those conditions? Then there is the question of farm labour costs, one of the most important factors in farming to-day. We realize that we cannot improve the farm labour position until the farmers get an adequate reward for the increased cost of production, and there the farm labour is a very important factor. So I could go on, but I have an important matter to deal with.
I want to put it to the hon. the Minister that the stock losses of this country and the drain on our stock resources are such that it is time some note was taken. I want to take cattle losses in the Union first. The deaths from all causes in 1955 were 1,015,439. These figures I may say are extracted exclusively from records placed on the Table of this House. In 1955 100,000 head of cattle were slaughtered on farms. Slaughtered in controlled areas, 1,379,227. Calves slaughtered at control, 157,676. Out of a total of 12,062,242 cattle in the Union, we had a drain per annum (in 1958) of 2,652,342. How much longer can that drain be continued upon the stock of this country? That represents a diminution of some 8 per cent per annum. How much longer can we continue to have that? If we are going to slaughter off 8 per cent, or if we lose 8 per cent of our stock, there is something wrong. These figures are either wrong, or there is something wrong.
I want to use the corresponding figures in regard to sheep:
Deaths from all causes
Truly a surprising number!
Slaughtered on farms
Slaughtered in controlled areas
Slaughtered in outside areas
Giving a total of
out of a total of 38,278,344. I want to ask the hon. the Minister how much longer can we continue with that state of affairs? The inroads we are making into that must surprise most people, but can we continue with that state of affairs? Is the ratio of what is left of mother stock to non-producing stock sufficient to give us that number every year?
The one figure that I do want to comment on before I go any further is that of the enormous losses. I am going to repeat them: Head of cattle, 1,015,000; sheep, 3,324,000. These are losses which should be reduced to an absolute minimum. It can be done, and that is where research comes in, and where veterinary services can play their part. I think it should be possible for these figures, to be reduced by at least half.
I now want to come to a matter which was raised a short while ago, viz. the protection of our water sources. I also referred to this a day or two ago, but as it is a matter which falls more appropriately under soil conservation, I think we should deal with it under this Vote. Now, Sir, our national water resources —be they on private farms or on Crown lands —are not receiving the protection which they should and something should, I say, be done in this respect. Protection under soil conservation is being done as well as it possibly can, but I want to assure the hon. Minister that the co-operation between Government Departments is not what is should be, and the resources are, as a result, not receiving the protection that they should get. I would earnestly recommend, therefore, that there should be the closest co-operation between the Departments in charge of soil conservation, so that such protection can be given, because it is essential for South Africa to maintain the resources that it has and to restore the reserves as, well as the denuded areas in governmentally controlled areas. Unless this is enforced, it is useless to anybody, because, while there is no co-operation from the Departments concerned, soil conservation cannot progress. Much of the trouble which is caused in the higher regions is reflected in the lower sections falling under compulsory control.
I now want to deal very briefly with the question of cattle improvement. Of the 12,000,000 cattle we are supposed to have in South Africa—I doubt whether we have, but that is the official figure—the bulk of the number belonging to the Natives is in such a conditions that we ought to hang our heads in shame at times. The hon. member for Somerset East (Mr. Vosloo) gave me a little sticker for my car the other day with two wonderful animals on it. This sticker should be placed on many cars, so that they can compare those animals with those that are sometimes passed on the roads. I have done so. Now, this mongrel stock is a menace to South Africa. When is the hon. Minister going to take this matter in hand and reintroduce and carry into effect one of the best measures we can have in this country, namely to bring about an improvement in the condition of our cattle? Some hon. members mentioned the fact that artificial insemination was going to play an extremely important part, and if we can resort to that, instead of to what the hon. member for Paarl (Mr. W. C. Malan) has suggested, namely the subsidization of bulls, we will be making a very great contribution towards the improvement in the condition of our stock. With the declining supplies and with the lower weights now coming on to the market, it is essential that the hon. Minister should take this matter in hand.
I now want to deal with the production of fibres. I think the hon. Minister is aware that the Department of Native Affairs is embarking on a large production scheme for fibres suitable, not only for the manufacture of wool packs, but also of bags. I am sure that to see what is being done would be an eye-opener to the Minister. He will see it later in the season. What is being produced in the Native areas on completely worn-out land has been a surprise to everybody. With the production of these fibres, I think we could make a large contribution to South Africa being self-sufficient.
In the first place I want to agree with the hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren) when he spoke about the types of cattle one so often finds along the roads. I think he put up a very good case in asking that special attention should be denoted to improving our livestock. I cannot do more than to agree with him. I must say that the hon. member when he talks about agriculture often produces very good ideas. Occasionally he makes the mistake of introducing political motives into certain of his ideas and in doing so he harms his case. The test that I apply to agricultural technical services is the increase in production. That is the best proof. In the period from 1938-9 to 1960 the increase in the case of mealies, wool and meat was from 20 per cent to 60 per cent. The increase in the dairy industry was 160 per cent. That increase in production on the same acreage of land, and often on less, is the best proof of proper agricultural technical services. I do not want to repeat the figures I mentioned the other day and therefore I mention just a few. The production of groundnuts amounted to 56,000 cubic tons in 1948. It is now 152,000 cubic tons. Sunflower seed was 41,000 tons; it is now 95,600 tons. Wheat was 5.3 million; it is now 8.1 million. This is an example of the success of agricultural technical services in South Africa. I can also mention the figures for potatoes, etc., if hon. members want to hear them. But I want to take sugar cane as another example. In 1948 we had 4.5 million tons. Today we have 9.1 million tons. We have overproduction and do not know what to do. It is being produced on less land than was cultivated in 1948. What about all the mills on the South Coast which are no longer in use? This is an example of the practical fruits which South Africa is reaping as a result of agricultural technical services. And then the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher) tries to prove with figures that all is not well with agricultural technical services. But that is just the fruits we reaped from the time of the United Party, when the agricultural colleges were closed, when training facilities were not created for our professor so that they could again in turn give instruction to agricultural students.
When they were kicked out.
Yes, when they were kicked out. But I want to agree with the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) on one point. I also get perturbed when I look at the number of agricultural and diploma students. I do not blame the hon. the Minister for that because the classroom space and the facilities are there. I blame it on the economic structure in South Africa which went awry in the past; I blame it on the situation where, for example, a man who drives a Coca-Cola delivery lorry earns a bigger salary than a properly trained technician or an expert on wool and sheep.
Or a Member of Parliament.
And also more than a Member of Parliament the hon. member says. It is alarming when one looks at the number of diploma students from 1948 to 1960. In 1948 the total was 338; in 1960 it was only 553. It is an increase but far too little in view of our needs and requirements. If one looks at the agricultural faculties, at the pre- and postgraduate students, it will be found that there were 562 in 1948, when the United Party surrendered. To-day there are 852. This is again an increase but unfortunately the increase is not rapid enough to keep pace with the demand in South Africa. I want to plead for the introduction at some stage of a proper investigation into a proper economic structure, to determine if agriculture and all the other facets of the country’s life fit in properly with the circumstances. This may remedy the position.
Mr. Chairman, I have already told you about the high production per morgen. That is the benefit from technical services, it is the fruits of soil conservation and the eradication of weeds. When speaking about this the costs to the State should also be borne in mind. I see, for example, that since 1948 an amount of £4,387,000 has been spent on soil conservation. This is a handsome figure Expenditure on the eradication of weeds was £35,000; on the eradication of prickly pears, £62,000; on the eradication of jointed cactus, £589,357. There was also an amount of £785,684 paid in subsidies to farmers for spraying fluid. Subsidies for soil conservation during this period—excluding the rebate in terms of the Act—amounted to £3,156,292. These are just a few figures. I think of the loan of which only 60 per cent was repayable, and of the negligible rate of interest; £2,861,368 was granted. This shows what is being done in this regard. During this period from 1956-7 to 1959 £715,336 was given for the combating of pests and plagues, such as wheat lice, locusts, finches and commando worms. This shows to what extent the Department is rendering a service to the country in connection with these matters.
Mr. Chairman, I want, however, to plead for another matter. I have here a series of editions of the agro-economic map of South Africa, together with the key. I see that these pamphlets were issued in 1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1957 and also in 1954 and 1955, and one cannot obtain anything later than this from the Department of Agricultural Technical Services or the Department of Agriculture or the Government Printer. My question is: What is being done with this? This was a valuable piece of work for South Africa, to divide South Africa into agro-economic units. But take the Land Bank, the Department of Lands, the Farmers’ Assistance Board, those different institutions which have to provide credit for the farmers, which have to rehabilitate farmers economically, which do the allocation and valuation of land when land is sold—do they take this into consideration and is it supplemented and brought up to date with the changing circumstances? I want to mention an example. I find, for example—and this is my second plea —that in this agro-economic chart they give the district of Volksrust and Amersfoort as a mixed farming and grazing area. There is grazing in that area. Now the Department of Lands—which does not take this into consideration and which does not use technical services —come along and they divide that land into small units on which one can only grow crops —land which has been classified by the agro-economic survey as grazing. Those people become poor Whites because one cannot plough there. Because this is so it brings me to another very important plea which I want to make to the hon. the Minister and his Department. [Time limit.]
With regard to the figures quoted by the hon. member for Wakkerstroom (Mr. Martins), I want to inform the Minister that these figures were quoted by him on the Vote for economics and marketing. Referring to the hon. member for Cradock, and, in fairness to the hon. Minister. I want to say that that hon. member should find something else to thank the Minister for. That hon. member has been thanking successive Ministers for erosion control at Vlekpoort ever since the days when he was member of the United Party!
I seek information from the hon. Minister about item U of Vote No. 36 “Subscriptions—Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux”. This bureaux include the Commonwealth Institute of Mycology, Entomology and Biological Control. I notice that the membership of South Africa of these Bureaux will be reviewed at the end of five years, that is at the end of 1963. I now would like to learn from the Minister whether our contribution to this body will be reviewed at that time or whether it will terminate at the end of this month when South Africa leaves the Commonwealth. Mr. Chairman, there have been many items under the Votes on the Budget which brought home to us the tragedy of us leaving the Commonwealth. In small matters like homes for University students to do research overseas, scholarships, etc., privileges will have to be given up and will be denied to our citizens, because when we become a republic we will naturally not remain a member of the Commonwealth. Will the Minister please explain to the Committee how his Department proposes to carry on in regard to this matter when South Africa loses its membership? Will the publications of these Bureaux still be avaialble to us? If its publication on mycology does not prevent the hon. member for Cradock from mushroom poisoning, biological control is. I know, most essential for our fruit industry and for the prevention of the spread of cactus. A larger measure of research will be the responsibility of universities and now that we are to lose membership of these Commonwealth bodies, we should put our shoulders to the wheel and undertake more research ourselves. In this connection I notice that the grant to universities is down to R14,000. How is this money allocated and for what purpose? How do universities apply for it? I would appeal to the Minister to increase this grant for research. It has been requested already from both sides of the House that more money should be spent on research. The total amount under “Contributions and subsidies” I notice is only R141,900 whereas last year the amount was R2,184,600. If the Minister is going to save money on this heading to this extent, then my appeal for an increase in the grant to universities for research becomes the stronger. Research at universities, is the most economical research a government can undertake because all the required staff and material are at hand, as are also the necessary facilities. And it is a fact that our students have proved themselves brilliant in research and the Minister and the Government should go out of its way to encourage them to undertake research in every direction, but, in agriculture in particular, because agriculture is more in need of research than is any other department in our country. Therefore. I would like to make my appeal to the Minister as strong as possible.
Will the Minister when he replies tell the Committee what progress is being made with the experiments for the extraction of pineapple fibres. What type of fibre is it anticipated will be available and can it be produced at a price which will be in competition with jute, for instance? Will it be suitable and economic for the manufacture of wool packs in the country? This information would be of great value to us. Members of this House have already expressed their horror at the jump in the price of wool packs. We know that the price of wool in South Africa has already dropped to below the price in Australia and on top of this we shall have to pay at least 25s. for wool packs during the coming season. The hon. member for Cradock will agree with me that we should pay less than this and also that we should endeavour to become independent of the jute supplied from the East for the manufacture of wool packs.
In a previous debate I drew the attention of the hon. the Minister to the fact that South Africa is being threatened by the great danger of bush advancing on to large parts of the country. Now I also want to mentioned a few other things facing agriculture. This I want to term a comparatively subversive enemy of which we have become all the more aware in recent years, and that is the white ant. I think that during the past year, when the country was in the grip of a country-wide drought, we really came to realize how much of the grazing on the farms was being consumed by the white ant each year. In our areas, and they are big areas, the farmer preserves spare camps during the summer for use in the winter. When winter came after little rain and after the first frost the white ants attacked the veld and by September there was nothing left in a spare camp. It was useless putting the cattle in there in the hope of their finding grazing. The white ants had devoured the lot. I want to draw the attention of the hon. the Minister and his Department to this and ask them to give serious consideration to the matter. The combating of this menace is surely just as important as that of jointed cactus, if one considers the size of that area. We agree wholeheartedly to the Government giving all the assistance possible in order to combat that menace. I now also ask that another menace, which is also beyond the farmers’ power to control, should receive attention. I am not asking for the Government to appropriate money to assist in the combating of this threat. But the Government can assist by making the poisons available at cost price, or as near to that as possible, so that the farmer may obtain the poison at a reasonable price, poison which is normally far too expensive for the farmer to afford, so that he can then be in a position to combat that evil. I do not think it is unreasonable to ask this.
The farmer in South Africa does not find himself in a flourishing position to-day. We should not allow ourselves to be misled or to gain the impression that farmers are very prosperous to-day. I do not want to attribute it wholly to the period of drought which lasted for several years, but also to the fact that new problems, such as pests and plagues, have struck the farmer. The Department has performed miracles. We are very grateful for what they have done. But then I want to associate myself with the hon. member for Wakkerstroom (Mr. Martins) who asked whether we should not make a survey, an inventory, of the problems threatening us to see if we are still able to give the answers to all the problems and also the guidance to the farmer in this period in which he finds himself. The farmer is in urgent need of guidance. I am convinced that the best investment in any country in these times is the training of technicians. If we want to keep agriculture up to date we will be compelled to think on much broader lines in this connection than we have done up to now. I do not wish to belittle all the good work that has been done in that connection.
I must mention here that foot-and-mouth has now brought many of our farmers to the stage where they now ask me whether the Government will not buy their farms on the borders. We cannot exist year after year under the onerous conditions of foot-and-mouth. Foot-and-mouth broke out in my constituency about four years ago. The farmers were placed under quarantine and when the position eased—the hon. the Minister knows this very well—drought conditions became so bad that the farmers were unable to market any of their cattle from the time that they were placed under quarantine. They had to carry on under drought conditions and could, therefore, also not market their cattle. It has now rained in that area. In March they got good rains for the first time and for the first time they again have the prospect of getting their cattle into such a condition as to be able to market them. It is under those conditions that I plead and ask: Are we convinced that we are really giving sufficient attention to the serious threat of foot-and-mouth? Can we not do more? We are grateful for all that is being done but can we not perhaps through co-operation do more—the hon. the Minister will know best what to do. I can give the hon. the Minister the assurance that if he replies to this point this evening then large numbers of farmers in the outposts—people who have suffered for years under these unbearable conditions—will be listening with great interest to what he is saying to hear whether he can give them any hope that there will be a measure of security in this respect in the future.
There is still another very serious threat in the cattle areas. I want to point out how tick-borne diseases, which were earlier known only in the Lowveld, have to-day spread all over the Transvaal and the Free State, those healthy areas. There they are to-day experiencing gall sickness and other diseases which are spread by the ticks and which they never experienced before. The hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker) says that in his part of the world that pest is also already assuming large proportions. Is it not time that we ask whether we are forcing the enemy to retreat or whether it is forcing us to retreat, and whether it has not infiltrated into our midst like fifth columnists and are attacking our agriculture while we are sleeping soundly? I want to support the contention that the Government must economize in all respects but I am grieved to see a saving of R2,000,000 on this Vote for Technical Services because if ever there is a Department on which the welfare of agriculture depends to a great extent it is this Department.
I also want to point out that we need research in connection with soil conservation and grazing. I make bold to say that in the areas that I represent no proper tested and planned grazing has been applied to see how certain types of grazing should be used at a certain time and in a certain way in order to get the best benefit from it. There are certain grasses which must be grazed when they are still young. If you allow it to grow too old then it is no longer nutritious. These are things in which the Department can be of tremendous help to the farmer in his daily problems; if the hon. the Minister could evolve a soil and veld conservation system by way of experiments. I want to mention this example. We thought we had the answer for keeping our arable land in order through applying the methods prescribed by the Division of Soil Conservation. The Mealie Board bought four farms and put them at the disposal of the Department to show us how their soil conservation system could be applied in practice so that the farmer could make a reasonable living without exhausting the soil. [Time limit.]
I find no fault in what the hon. member for Vryburg (Mr. Labuschagne) said. I am very glad to see that he does not approach the Vote from a political point of view, and I do not intend doing so either. I think the hon. member put up a good case and I think that anyone in this House who tries to derogate from the good work being done by the Department and who wants to approach it from a political point of view will be doing the country a disservice, and I will not do that. The Department of Agricultural Technical Services is the common possession of all the farmers of South Africa, irrespective of which political party they belong to and where there is criticism it is not political but constructive criticism. I hope the hon. the Minister will regard it as such.
I agree with the hon. member for Vryburg that the hon. the Minister should not think that the farmers, and particularly the grain farmers, are now very prosperous because there has been an increase in production in the country in nearly every sphere of agriculture, increased production of mealies, wheat and kaffircorn—and I think it is a feather in the cap for the Department that this is so because it is largely due to experiments which they have conducted. Since 1952 the prosperity of the grain farmers has deteriorated. I do not want to blame the Government or the Department for this. I think it is in the first place due to the fact that from 1953 there has been a tremendous increase in production costs. I do not know whether the Department can do anything about it. Mechanization has much to do with it. Apart from the fact that production costs have increased so tremendously and that the gap between production costs and the price of the farmers’ product is becoming increasingly narrower another contributing factor is that the grain farmer in particular has mechanized. I do not say that he should not have done so but I think that mechanization has taken place injudiciously. I am not so sure whether the small farmer in the mealie zone and the wheat farmer could afford to mechanize and for that reason they have landed in the position in which they find themselves to-day. If I can make any contribution to this debate it would be to bring to the notice of the hon. the Minister the fact that it is essential that he as the responsible person in his Department, one of those who must be the spokesman for the farmer, should approach the matter from the point of view that things are not going so well with the farmers as they would appear to be. I do not say this for political gain, but as a fact. His approach and his negotiations with other bodies should be on the lines that the farmers in general are not too prosperous.
I want to associate myself with what the hon. member for Wakkerstroom (Mr. H. Martins) said. I also had it in my notes as one of my points but he beat me to it, and I just want to emphasize it. We had an agro-economic survey a few years ago and on that map South Africa was divided into agro-economic units, but I would like to know from the hon. the Minister to what extent that survey has been put into practice. The hon. member for Wakkerstroom is quite right. I do not think other bodies and Departments pay sufficient attention to the division of South Africa into agro-economic units as was set out in that map. He is quite right in saying that it is fatal to expect a farmer to make a living from grain farming on too small a unit in an area which is in the first place more suited to cattle farming. He is doomed to failure, just like the grain farmers in the actual grain areas, large parts of the Free State and the Eastern Transvaal, are already doomed to a precarious existence because the units are too small as a result of sub-division. I think this is one of the greatest problems which the Department and the hon. the Minister will have to deal with in the future. It is especially so in the mealie triangle. I am referring not so much to the Western Transvaal but to the Central and Eastern Free State and certain parts of the Eastern Transvaal. In the years when production costs were not so high and when the farmers were encouraged by the State to increase production and as a result of the application of mono-cultivation aimed at planting cash crops, a position has been created, the results of which I shudder to think of unless in co-operation with the Department a new method of farming is evolved. If the hon. the Minister will look into it he will see that most of the applications last year came from those parts where the farms have become too small and where the soil is exhausted and I think it is the duty of the Department to tackle this problem. [Time limit.]
The hon. member for Florida (Mr. H. G. Swart) said that he did not want to turn this into a political matter, but he still very slyly tried to drag in politics.
He tried to create the impression that things were not going so well with the farmers, and secondly he blamed the Government, although he said that he did not blame the Government, but he mentioned the date when things started going badly, 1953. Those were his tactics. It is not so much what he said, but he did it indirectly. I am not saying that the farmers were so prosperous. I do not think they were so prosperous even in the United Party time—perhaps they were much worse off then, but I will agree with him on one thing, viz. that special attention should be given to the small farmer because he has a difficult task. I agree with the hon. member that the sub-division of land which took place is the reason for it. The Government is not the cause of it.
But I want to come back to the hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren), who referred to the decrease in our herds. In the first place, in regard to sheep, there is a decrease; that is true, but those figures were taken during the years of drought when the sheep were dying, and I have not the least doubt that after the recent good rains which fell in the sheep-farming areas the position will recover. The hon. member also spoke about our cattle population. He mentioned the number slaughtered and the number of cattle which died, but he did not tell us what the position was over the years, because in fact there is no deterioration. That is why he takes the annual figures of the cattle slaughtered, which produces the total number. But is it not a fact that new farming methods have had an effect on the number of cattle, and that to-day their animals are being marketed at an earlier age? I am one of those who are more concerned about future shortages than about surpluses, but both the hon. member for King William’s Town and the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) complained about the shortage of manpower and the fact that certain services could not be rendered. It is true that there is a shortage of manpower and that all these services cannot be supplied. With a small White population like ours, it is clear that when there is great development there will be a shortage of staff in the Department because private firms offer these people higher salaries and they leave the Department. That is why people take degrees but do not go farming; they are employed by private firms at high salaries, as the hon. member said. We are dealing with a Minister who cares for the health of our animals, our soil and also our water. In other words, we are dealing here with a Minister who holds the key to the development of the country, a very great task indeed. I must say that in spite of all the problems facing us, he and his Department have made tremendous progress. I agree that costs of production are very high and that we should evolve plans to reduce it. Perhaps that is one of the things to which we have not devoted enough attention. Because the duties of the Department are so comprehensive, and as the result of mechanization, which is a very expensive process—the hon. member for Gardens was not sure of the figure, but I want to say that the capital already invested in machinery amounts to £500,000,000 and that the annual replacements amount to £120,000,000 and that £24,000,000 is being spent on spare parts annually …
Order! Should the hon. member not talk in terms of the currency of the country?
I will get to the top of the hill (rand) in a moment. [Laughter.] I want to ask the Minister to concentrate on giving guidance to the farmers, particularly at the agricultural colleges, in regard to mechanization, and particularly in regard to technical advice. I know that the Department is already doing that and that it has instituted short courses at the agricultural colleges. That is one of the crucial points in regard to the high costs of production. Therefore I want to ask that as many officials as possible should be made available to instruct the farmers. [Time limit.]
In spite of the misgivings expressed by an hon. member on that side of the House—I think it was the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher)—and his suggestion that one must not congratulate the Minister while one can find the slightest cause for criticism by using a microscope, I do want to make use of this opportunity to congratulate the hon. the Minister and his officials wholeheartedly on behalf of my constituency for their expeditious and efficient action during the floods in the north-west, and I should also like to include the Departments of Social Welfare, Transport and Defence, because all these Departments cooperated.
In the reconstruction and rehabilitation that must follow upon the drought and the wash-aways in my constituency and the neighbouring constituencies, the Minister of Agricultural Technical Services will have to play a very important rôle, if not the most important rôle. Financial assistance has already been promised by the Treasury in connection with the consolidation of debts and the building up of the stock herds in those regions, but of course when it comes to the building up of the soil again, that is 100 per cent the work of this Minister. The valuable soil conservation works which have been erected in past years in the north-west at the cost of hundreds of thousands of rand—not pounds—have been largely destroyed by the floods. For example, in the area of Loxton, Sak River, Vanwyksvlei, Carnarvon and, to a large extent, also in Kenhardt and Brandvlei, practically all these erosion works, including dams and weirs, have been washed away and destroyed. Now I come to the point. If, as laid down in the Act, the farmers are expected to restore these erosion works at their own expense without further assistance from the Department of Agriculture, they are going to suffer great financial hardship. I do not know how far the Minister’s inquiry has progressed in connection with the determination of the damage caused there, but if it has progressed far enough I should like to hear from him the approximate extent of the damage caused in those areas, and, in the second place, to what extent and on what basis assistance is going to be granted to the farmers there in building up the soil again. A statement in this regard would be a source of great encouragement to those afflicted farmers, and encouragement is what they need very badly after this long drought and after the washaways.
Then, under the sub-head Research, I should like to refer to a problem which is beginning to assume great proportions in the north-west, and that is the incidence of tribulosis. This is a disease that sheep contract through eating devil’s thorn. I know that the Minister has instructed his Department to undertake research in this connection and that research is being done at Onderstepoort. I also understand that various sub-divisions of that Department are undertaking research in connection with this matter. But I do feel that a good deal of field work is essential in this connection, and I should like this field work to be brought a little closer to this area which is affected in this way. I want to ask whether it is not possible to establish an experimental farm in the north-west to investigate this disease?
A second matter to which I want to refer is the incidence of hook-thorn. This is not a poisonous plant. As a matter of fact, it is a very useful shrub with a high feed value, but the trouble is to control this shrub. Wherever it grows the natural veld is being destroyed completely by degrees. The problem, therefore, is to keep the quantity in check. I should like to hear from the Minister whether some spraying material has not been discovered with which this shrub can be controlled to some extent. To try to keep it in check by mechanical means is quite impossible.
Then a final point in connection with the settlements along the Orange River—and this probably applies also to all other settlements. As long as the settler is a renter he receives guidance and instruction from the Department of Lands, but as soon as he becomes the owner of that land, he is transferred to the supervision of the Department of Agriculture. The difficulty is this: I am afraid that the policies and the practice followed by these two Departments are not necessarily the same, and I think it is essential that there should be a degree of uniformity and that there should be the necessary co-operation between the two Departments to ensure at least that the guidance given to those people is not only the correct guidance, but that conflicting policies are not applied.
I do not want to follow the hon. member for Prieska (Mr. Stander). I do not think that he has said anything with which anybody here can disagree. I think everybody in this House views with sympathy the representations that he made to the hon. the Minister in connection with the recent floods in that area and the large-scale destruction of soil-erosion works. I have seen some of those areas, and I too want to express the hope that the hon. the Minister will view as sympathetically as possible any representations that come from that area for State assistance in connection with the restoration of those erosion works. I am not prepared to say at this stage how far the State should be prepared to go and to what extent the State would be justified in erecting those works again, but I think this ought to be a matter for negotiation between the hon. the Minister and his Department on the one hand and the farmers’ associations and the agricultural unions of those areas on the other hand. I certainly feel that something should be done.
Sir, I agree with so much of what the hon. member for Christiana (Mr. Wentzel) said here a moment ago that I shall forgive him for having tried to make out a case here that I dragged politics into this debate.
Before I sat down just now, I was trying to show how essential it is that the Department of Agricultural Technical Services should work out a farming system and get the farmers in certain areas of the maize triangle to follow that system, if we do not want to see the farmers in those areas of the maize triangle ruined within the foreseeable future. I do not want to blame this Government or the Department for the conditions which has developed there, for the small farms on which it is uneconomic to go in for crop farming only and where the structure of the soil is such that it soon loses its fertility. There are historical developments which are responsible for that state of affairs; it is certainly not the fault of any particular government. The situation is serious and I think that the hon. the Minister is aware of that. I want to make an appeal to him again in the interests of a large section of our farmers in this country that the Department should give its serious attention to the question of working out a new farming system there—a mixed farming system, I do not know—if we do not want a catastrophe in those areas within the next ten, 15 or 20 years. I am convinced that what is happening there now cannot be allowed to continue. Mr. Chairman, I notice that on page 199, under Vote No. 36, provision is being made for R2,000 for “experiments conducted on a cooperative basis with farmers”. I should just like to hear from the hon. the Minister what this means. Is this an experiment under which farmers have to produce on a co-operative basis with a little assistance from the State? I shall be very pleased if the hon. the Minister will make a statement in this regard when he replies, because I do not believe that it is generally accepted to-day that we should encourage co-operative societies as far as production is concerned.
No, that is not the position.
I have no definite opinion with regard to this matter. I do, however, have definite opinions about the necessity of co-operative societies in the distributive sector of farming, but I am not so sure whether it should be applied to the productive sector so that eventually we will have large, joint cooperative farms in this country. I have no definite view in this regard. Perhaps the hon. the Minister can explain to us what this item means.
It only relates to experiments which are being done by my Department in consultation and in co-operation with farmers on their farms on a larger scale than we are able to do so on our experimental farms.
Thank you very much; in that case I am satisfied.
Then there is another matter that I want to bring to the Minister’s notice. I am becoming perturbed about this new method which has been followed over the past few years, namely to use highly concentrated fertilizers, particularly in maize production. Apart from the fact that the maize producer is making more and more use of hybrid seed, I think the increased production that we are having this year is due in particular to the fact that the maize producers are beginning to apply this new method of using highly concentrated fertilizers to such an extent that to-day one can almost produce mealies on a sandy desert if one puts into the soil the materials that the mealie plant needs and if one gets sufficient rain. I am not convinced that in the long run this is going to benefit the maize producer, because the extra cost incurred by the maize producer under this new method of using concentrated fertilizer makes his risk so much greater when he has a crop failure and when he does not get sufficient rain. Unless there is sufficient rain the plant dries up so much sooner. Although this is a factor which increases the production of maize, I think that the risk that the farmer runs in that connection does not make it worth while. I should like to hear the opinion of the hon. the Minister and of his Department in this regard. I should like to hear whether or not they recommend it. I think it is necessary that the Minister or his Department should make a statement in this connection before it is too late, because the tendency that I see in the maize-producing areas of this country is to spend more and more money on fertilizers and to apply fertilizer more than once. In my opinion this is a method to which so much risk is attached that if it is applied in the future, without this matter first having been thoroughly investigated by the Department to determine the advantages or disadvantages of this method, then I am afraid that the farmers in those areas are going to bump their heads very badly. I should like to hear from the Minister what the official attitude of his Department is in respect of this practice which has been follewed more and more in the maize-producing areas in recent times.
I shall appreciate it too if the hon. the Minister will make a statement with regard to the foot and mouth disease position in this country. I agree with the hon. member for Vryburg (Mr. Labuschagne) that the farmers in particular who fall in the quarantine area on the borders of our country suffered great damage as a result of the fact that their farms were placed under quarantine during the previous outbreak and the fact that a drought followed immediately afterwards. To-day we have a repetition of that position. I would be the last person to recommend to the Minister that the quarantine on our borders should be lifted unconditionally. I think it is necessary, but I just want to bring the position of those farmers to his notice. As the hon. member for Vryburg has said, the previous position has almost repeated itself this year. Those areas from South West Africa down, all along the border up to the northern part of the Transvaal, were placed under quarantine; the rains came late and now for the first time those farmers are again in a position, as a result of the good rains, to market their cattle. I am not saying that the Minister should lift the quarantine regulations. I just want to draw his attention to the difficult position in which those farmers are finding themselves to-day.
The hon. member who has just sat down as well as other hon. members who spoke earlier this afternoon, referred repeatedly to the foot and mouth disease position in South Africa. Mr. Chairman, I do not want to follow the hon. member who has just sat down in what he has said, but I just want to submit that we have reached the stage in this country where we should approach the problem of foot and mouth disease from another angle. It is the position that from time to time one or other great epidemic or disaster strikes our farmers. At the moment South Africa is in a very serious position which has been brought about by the most recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease. It is the position that a large part of South Africa has already been afflicted in recent years by foot and mouth disease and it is also the position that widespread outbreaks have taken place in the northern parts of our country in recent times. A day or so ago outbreaks of foot and mouth disease were reported from beyond the red line, the imaginary line which the Department of Agricultural Technical Services has laid down and within the confines of which the movement of stock is restricted so that control may be exercised. Mr. Chairman, it is the position that the stockfarming industry, which is probably the most important industry in our country—the cattle population alone is worth R200,000,000 to-day, if not more—is in the grips of the most serious outbreak of foot and mouth disease which we have probably experienced during this half-century. Various attempts have been made to combat this disease and the State has felt obliged to incur heavy expenditure in this regard. Hundreds of miles of our borders have been fenced in an attempt to halt the disease. In the northern parts of our country we have had to maintain cordons with consequent very heavy expenditure, and at present the Department of Agricultural Technical Services has some of its most capable officials stationed in those areas in order to watch and keep guard over the position. During this state of emergency the State was obliged to announce that it was going to assist the farmers financially because they were in the grips of this outbreak of foot and mouth disease. All these factors force one to ask whether we can afford at this stage to allow this disease to continue as it has in the past. This brings me to the question which has become of actual importance to South Africa at this stage, namely: Who should control South Africa’s wild life? Our wild game are the real culprits to-day. No matter how we may love wild life, it remains a fact that wild animals are the main bearers of foot and mouth disease. Mr. Chairman, a few days ago it was reported from the Waterberg constituency, as I said just now, that the disease had broken out behind the imaginary red line and we know that game are the carriers. In various provinces wild game are under the control of the provincial councils, and the policy of the provincial councils is to protect our game, but such protection is in direct conflict with the combating of foot and mouth disease. Through their officials our provincial councils are trying to preserve our wild life as much as possible in these danger zones as well, and the attempts of the Department of Agricultural Technical Services to combat foot and mouth disease are in effect in direct conflict with the policy of the provincial councils regarding the conservation of game. We know that there are serious stock diseases in South Africa which are carried by game. We know that foot and mouth disease is apparently carried by all sorts of wild game. We know that corridor disease is carried by buffalo; we know that catarrhal fever (snotsiekte) is carried by the blue wildebeest, and that many types of game carry anthrax, but foot and mouth disease is probably the disease which is carried by the greatest variety of game in South Africa. It seems to me that the Department of Agricultural Technical Services will have to decide whether it can afford to allow the control over game to be entrusted to our provinces any longer, or whether the time has not come for control to be transferred to the Union Government. This would mean that the Department of Agricultural Technical Services would be able to take immediate action, and in the areas where the disease breaks out, it would be in the interests of our stock farmers to have the game brought under control by shooting or by some other means. This disease has now become endemic in South Africa and as far as our stock farmers are concerned it is really a disaster. I therefore want to ask the hon. the Minister whether the time has not come for him to take the lead and to consult the various provincial councils as to whether he, through his Department, should not take control over wild game from the provincial councils.
A question which I should like to put is: Who should really determine how much game each farm can carry? Should the farmers themselves control their own game, or should it be left to the provinces or to the Union Government to determine the number which each farm can carry. Hon. members who represent South West Africa will be able to testify that in South West where they have the system whereby the farmer controls his own game, the system works extremely well and that the farmers in these instances have protected their own game very effectively.
There it forms part of their farming activities.
The third point I want to raise in this regard is whether the time has not come for the Minister, through his Department, to take very strict action against those persons who have hunting farms on the borders of South Africa and give them the option of fencing in these farms if they want to keep such farms, instead of these farms being unfenced with the consequent danger that foot and mouth disease will spread further? I submit that we in this country can no longer afford to allow the control over our game to be entrusted to the provinces whose basic premise is in effect in direct conflict with the responsibility of the State to control the game of South Africa and to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease. I hope that the Minister will give us a clear lead in this regard and that at some stage, if he is not able to do so to-day, he will make a statement so that the farmers will know who should control the source of this disease which to-day represents the main threat to our stock industry.
I have in my hand the annual report of the Director of the Highveld area for the year 1958-9. Under “Field Services” the Director, inter alia, states that the productivity of the soil is decreasing and he says—
This exploitational method of farming has been in vogue for years and its full effect is now being felt as the soil becomes less fertile and the margin of profit decreases. In large parts of the area the structure of the soil has deteriorated to such an extent that it can no longer stand the slightest drought or any superfluous rain. Systems of farming by which dry land cash crops can be profitably produced on a balanced long-term basis in rotation with soil restoring plants like legumes and grass must be evolved for every farmer who has not yet got them. The continued existence of every farmer is dependent on this.
Mr. Chairman, I am sure that I will later be nicknamed “the man who continually pleads for a rotational system of cropping”. But here an important official of the Department of Agriculture emphasizes it and mentions it as one of the basic causes for the deterioration in our soil, and as one of the main reasons why the farmers must necessarily deteriorate financially also. I want to make an urgent appeal to the Minister of Agricultural Technical Services that a special attempt should be made to persuade the farmers to change over to a properly planned system of rotational cropping in which the stock factor is included. I know that the Minister and the Department will tell me quite a lot is being done, but I say that too little is being done and that much more will have to be done. We live in times when it is not so easy to be a farmer. Take, for example, the Highveld area of the Free State and the Transvaal. I can tell hon. members that that is the area with one of the best production potentials in the country. It is this area of the country with its reasonably regular rainfall which I want to call the granary of South Africa. I want to thank the Department and the Minister for the guidance they have already given the farmers. Because there is just one way of continuing to exist as a farmer there, and that is to farm correctly, and to have the necessary knowledge to do so. I know that much is being done by our extension officers and agricultural publications such as Farming in South Africa and by radio talks to give guidance to the farmers. We appreciate that, but I want to plead here this afternoon for a matter in connection with which I feel that too little is still being done. Farming is the only profession where one cannot serve an apprenticeship. The only training our farmers can get is through the agricultural schools and colleges and we still have too few agricultural colleges. I live on the Highveld and I want to plead very seriously with the Minister to give us an agricultural college in the Eastern Free State, where our sons can get the necessary knowledge and training, and where they will learn to adopt a system of rotational cropping. There is a great need for an agricultural college in that area. But I also want to ask that at the agricultural colleges proper systems of farming should be evolved for each area. Where can we find a better area and a better place to establish an agricultural college than at the Agricultural Experimental Farm at Bethlehem? That is a centre which will be able to serve the whole of the Eastern Free State and the Caledon area. We have this experimental farm there. There is the necessary land, electricity, water and railway facilities, and I can assure you that there will be enough students to be trained at that college. It is true that we have Potchefstroom and the Minister will perhaps tell me that that is the training college for the Highveld area. I do not want to belittle Potchefstroom, Sir, but if you look at this map of the Highveld area you will see that Potchefstroom does not really fall in the Highveld area. It is really an appendage to the Western Transvaal area and we will willingly give it to the Western Transvaal if we can have an agricultural college at Bethlehem. I hope the Minister will consider this seriously and that he will accede to this request. I am not the only one who asks for this. All the agricultural organizations in that district have asked me to plead earnestly for this lack to be remedied as soon as possible.
I also want to say a few words of praise in regard to the Research Station at Bethlehem. The Eastern Free State is an area which can be turned into a wheat-producing area and which will perhaps be just as suitable for the production of wheat as the South-Western Boland area. But our great difficulty has always been that we do not have the right types of wheat to grow there. The officials have now got so far as to make available to us varieties which are rust-free and which hitherto have not developed rust under any circumstances. Other important work has also been done. They have developed new varieties of potatoes, particularly the N.D. variety which we can plant in November and December. After eight or nine years of propagating that mother seed, it has become apparent that this variety is practically immune to virus infection, which is the greatest enemy of the potato farmer, because the potato completely degenerates as a result of virus infection and eventually it has no production potential. In the same way I can mention numbers of other plants in connection with which that experimental station has done very important work for the farmers there. I want to express my thanks and appreciation to those officials for what they have done for us, but I believe the best way in which the money available for the development of agriculture can be spent is by providing more agricultural colleges so that we equip our youth, the future farmers, with the knowledge they require.
I think there was a lot in the plea of the hon. member for Bethlehem for more agricultural colleges and especially in his plea for such a college to be established at Bethlehem. I think the hon. member has put a good case and he knows what he is talking about. Not only would it benefit the area around Bethlehem and that part of the Free State, but I think it would assist the western areas of Natal as well.
But I did not rise to deal with that matter. I want to deal with another subject. During the recess an interdepartmental committee sat to consider the question of the Animal Protection Bill. The question that was before the Committee was whether or not the Government should take over this Bill, and if so, which department should handle the measure. On this interdepartmental committee was a representative of the hon. the Minister’s Department. The recommendation of the committee was that the Department of Justice should take over Chapter I of the Bill. I may say that the Bill was divided into three Chapters. And it was suggested that representations should be made to the hon. the Minister of Agricultural Technical Services to consider the taking over of Chapter III of the Bill. Chapter II might be handled by the Department of Public Health. The hon. Minister of Justice has agreed to introduce a measure to take over the first chapter of the Bill which deals with a large variety of questions of cruelty to animals and improves the law generally in regard cruelty to animals. I want to say that those who are behind this measure are very heartened by and grateful to the hon. the Minister of Justice for having agreed to take over Chapter I. My plea this afternoon is to the hon. the Minister of Agricultural Technical Services to consider the possibility of taking over Chapter III of this Bill. Chapter III deals in the main with problems and the control of questions relating to the slaughter of animals. Now I want to say that there is a great deal of evidence which I have, and others have, of support and sympathy for this measure from the farming community. During negotiations which took place over a number of years with the Agricultural Union, the Agricultural Union displayed the utmost sympathy towards this measure and was extremely helpful in the course of the negotiations that took place; it put forward a number of valuable suggestions, and I am very happy to say that an agreement was reached with the Agricultural Union which I think went very far indeed in regard to measures which it felt were necessary for the fighting of cruelty. All those who are connected with the promotion of this measure are grateful to the Agricultural Union and to the farming community for the assistance which they gave in regard to the measure and the readiness which they showed to accept the provisions of the Bill. Of course the Agricultural Union was very concerned to see that the livelihood of the farming community was not in any way affected by the measure, and I am quite sure that that was done. At the same time the promoters of the measure are also anxious to see that the Bill will not unwittingly cut across the livelihood of the farming community. That principle therefore was accepted on both sides, and as I say, the end was an agreement in regard to the measure, and it was a very happy agreement. I want also to say that since this measure was introduced, I myself have received a number of letters from farmers giving warm support to the measure, and I am convinced that the farming community as a whole, is very deeply concerned to see that there is as little cruelty to animals as there possibly can be. I have no doubt whatsoever myself, having some knowledge of farming conditions and also from the very great deal of correspondence which has come to me since this measure was introduced, and from the discussions with the Agricultural Union, that our farmers in South Africa treat their animals as humanely and as well as any farming community anywhere in the world. That may be a sweeping statement, but I do feel that very little cruelty is afflicted in the course of farming. There is here and there a transgressor as there is in any community, but the farming community as a whole is anxious that transgressions should be prevented.
The greatest measure of cruelty is not to be found on farms, but I am sorry to say it happens in the towns, and I hope that the measure will take care of that. However, I just want to say that my plea is that the hon. the Minister should give most sympathetic consideration to taking over Chapter III of the Bill and that he will introduce it himself. If he could give an assurance, after consideration —I naturally don’t expect the hon. the Minister to take any step before he has given the matter serious consideration—but if he could give an assurance that he will take over Chapter III, that would cause very great satisfaction among animal lovers throughout the country and especially among the numerous bodies, the S.P.C.A. and the other animal-welfare bodies who are very concerned to see that this measure, which they regard as an “animal charter” for South Africa is taken over in full. In particular this applies to Chapter III which should be taken over by this hon. Minister. I hope that he will be able to give some indication to-day of his sympathy. I am sure he will, because in previous conversations which I have had with the hon. the Minister he too, like the farming community, has shown great interest in this measure, and I am quite certain that I can rely upon his support for the Bill. I hope that he will give it in a practical way by doing something concrete in regard to Chapter III of the Bill.
I must protest at this stage of the debate against the sombre atmosphere which has been created here, particularly by hon. members opposite, and it has now become time that the warm comforting rays of South Africa should once again penetrate the mist of the United Party in order to open up new visions before us in respect of the agricultural industry which we accept today, and which we should like to accept in the future, is the backbone of our country’s economy and its national struggle. In the first place I should like to thank the hon. the Minister and also congratulate him on the original enterprise which he has shown in respect of his Vote, especially as regards the amount of R2,262,700 which has been provided for boring services, and I want to thank him particularly for the fact that he has agreed in terms of this scheme to allow the tempo of water boring to be accelerated by means of private tenders. I should appreciate it particularly if in his reply the hon. the Minister will just give us the details of this plan.
As regards the manpower problem, I should also like to submit a positive suggestion for the hon. the Minister’s consideration, namely that he should consider the establishment of an apprenticeship system for the agricultural industry. This is a long-felt need, i.e. the question of White labour on our farms. Various speakers have already referred to the necessity and desirability of theoretical and technical training, but I just want to say that my personal opinion is that practical training as regards labour and the quite normal routine of farming, synchronized with a little theoretical training, is what is really needed. I know that the answer may be that there is a great shortage, and where will we find the young people. I for my part am fully convinced that there are not only hundreds but thousands of farm boys who are just waiting for such an opportunity, and the only problem with which they are faced is the lack of security and of an assurance that, as is the case in commerce and industry, they will be paid a fixed wage during their apprenticeship period and that when they are qualified and have received their certificates, they will be able to claim a minimum salary. I personally do not doubt that the farming community would also be very eager to make use of such a system and would give its full co-operation in assuring the future of such enterprising young sons and daughters of the farm. We are living in an era which forces us to solve our problems for ourselves, and this applies to agriculture as well, and which also makes it imperative that we should become ever-more independent in the future as far as our labour is concerned. We can only do so by considering schemes such as this, bearing in mind the fact that over the next decade we have one or two thousand of these young men available as a managerial corps and also as a group of properly trained and equipped persons who could eventually become owners of land themselves.
In conclusion I want to refer to the need for technical services as well as for financial facilities for the smaller farmers in South Africa. I readily concede the validity of the argument that we are already faced with the evil of the uneconomic sub-division of land, but on the other hand I should also like to emphasize the fact and to point out that we are also faced with the evil of excessively large and over-capitalized farms in South Africa. The time has come for us to give attention also to the position of the small farmer who can make a good livelihood on his small unit of 25 and 30 or even 11 morgen of irrigable land. He should also have the right to technical services, guidance and, if necessary, financial facilities. This group of farmers in South Africa has come to stay, and developments in Europe show us once and for all that the future of the agricultural industry and the salvation of the agricultural industry lies in intensive farming. We in South Africa must face this fact and as far as our policy is concerned, we must also try to move in that direction. I have no doubt that the hon. the Minister is already aware of these facts and that we can rely on his sympathy, support and help and guidance in this regard.
It would be unnatural and, at this stage, irresponsible if I did not say a few words about foot-and-mouth disease. Foot-and-mouth disease has become endemic in the Protectorate and it is a source of continual danger to the Union of South Africa. It appears that outbreaks took place in 1938, 1944, 1948, 1951, 1954, 1957, 1958 and now in 1960-1, and that the cost of combating these outbreaks was R178,000 in 1939, R536,000 in 1944-5, R140,000 in 1948, R148,000 in 1951, R168,000 in 1954, R612,000 in 1957 and R510,000 in 1959. The figures for 1960-1 are not yet available. But these other figures give us a total of approximately R2,300,000, which has been spent on combating and preventing the spread of this disease, a clear indication that the Department of Agricultural Technical Services has not let the grass grow under its feet and has not spared any time or expense in preventing and trying to combat this disease once it has crossed our borders. The farmers living in the 40 miles covered by the red, pink, green and blue areas, which constitute a permanent buffer zone, are living under continual strain, and although it can be argued that the farmers bought their land cheaply and were aware of the risk they were running as regards foot-and-mouth disease and even tsetse fly, and that it was their own choice, they have the right to expect that they should be given the assistance and protection which pioneers have been afforded at all times and in all spheres. They ask that this help and protection should compensate them for the price which they must pay to protect the rest of the Union, and, in view of the fact that there is irregular marketing, that there should be compulsory economic marketing as and when the restrictions are tightened or relaxed, and that there should be compensation for the fodder required to feed stock which are ready for the market during the periods when they cannot be sold, etc. No one is better aware of what the Department and its veterinary service is doing in this regard than precisely the afflicted farmers themselves and I myself who have had a great deal to do with the matter as their representative. But we cannot eliminate the human factor which will always result in less successful attempts being made, and which makes it imperative that still greater efforts should be made not only to combat this disease, but preferably to prevent it. There is always scope for improvement. If I might mention the various causes which result in the farmers in those areas being paid a minimum price for their carcasses, for example, then I give as the first reason the interest on the loans advanced to them; compulsory uneconomic marketing when prices are at a low level and the market happens to be thrown open for a few weeks; compulsory uneconomic marketing when the stock is not quite ready for the market; and stock losses on the poison farms in the Koedoesrand area when they have to bring the stock together for inspection purposes on hot summer days; the cost involved in isolation measures, such as camps, fodder and the provision of water, before they can market their stock; the sale of stock on the quarantine market during the short period during which the market is open; their inability to market their cream; the cost entailed in the overgrazing of their farms as a result of overstocking, and the later rehabilitation of their farms; and in conclusion the severe droughts. When I mention all these factors, they constitute a fair indication of the tremendous financial difficulties the farmers in those areas, which have now been under quarantine for a year already, are faced.
But allow me to say a few words about our veterinary services, these most essential services which are required for combating all stock diseases. Since 1952 the State has contributed £50,000 in the form of bursaries to 56 bursary holders in this regard and 15 bursary holders have completed their studies. But 11 of them immediately repaid their bursaries and only four are still in the Department. What became of the other 11? Private enterprise repays their bursaries and takes them into service at higher rates of pay than those offered by the State. The State therefore makes bursaries and interest-free loans available so that private undertakings can recruit veterinarians! This must be stopped and such private undertakings should make loans available to the people they want to train as veterinarians for their own purposes. We hope that the position will improve now that the commencing salary of our veterinarians has been increased, that is to say from R1,500 to R2,500, with a maximum of R3,120. It is gratifying to know that 105 veterinary students are now being trained at Onderstepoort, and that Onderstepoort can now accept 30 new students per annum as compared with 15 a few years ago. The question is, however, whether we shall retain them. Does the House know that at the moment 28 trained veterinarians are employed by commerce and industry, 16 are employed by municipalities, that there are no less than 184 private practitioners, and that nine are employed as private veterinarians in commerce and trade and by farmers in South West Africa? This means that at the moment we have 287 fully trained veterinarians of whom practically none are in the employ of the State while most of them have acquired their qualifications with the assistance of the State. At the moment there are only 128 in the Public Service. If we could add these 287 to those we have, we would have a total of 415 fully qualified veterinarians which would be of inestimable value to the stock-farming industry. Just look at how they are distributed: There are 19 private practitioners in the urban areas of Natal and 14 on the platteland. In the Transvaal (the worst offender) there are 64 in the cities and 17 on the platteland; in the Orange Free State there are six in the cities and 13 on the platteland; in the Cape there are 21 in the cities and 30 on the platteland. These are all private practitioners, giving a total of 184.
There are many dogs in the cities.
There are vast numbers of dogs and cats, particularly in Johannesburg with its 64 veterinarians who are practising privately in order to care for the dogs and cats of rich people.
If time permits, I now want to refer rather sadly to what has happened recently. On 18 March 1961, I went to Koedoesrand in the district of Waterberg to investigate the foot-and-mouth disease position. And, through the kind assistance of our Department of Agricultural Technical Services, I was accompanied by Dr. Lamprecht and Dr. Mansfield, and there in the far north, Dr. Hurter, Dr. Trengove and Dr. Nel joined us. This was arranged on my behalf in Cape Town. I was surprised that the foot-and-mouth disease did not flee across the Limpopo right through the British Protectorate and beyond, but unfortunately we have been informed recently that there has been a new outbreak. But we attended a meeting of the vigilance committee of the farmers’ association of that area with very good results, and by the time we left there was great satisfaction, so that I could report thankfully to the hon. the Minister on what had happened. But what has happened? A few days later, on the 21st of the same month (I was there on the 18th) the Landbouweekblad published an article on the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease which had crossed the Limpopo. It published a picture of a tent which had been put up, under the heading “This tent is intended for the kaffir who patrols the area to combat foot-and-mouth disease, but when we came there there was no kaffir in the vicinity”. It seemed to me that this was a type of maliciousness. The tent was not erected for the kaffir to sit in it, the tent has been erected for the kaffir so that he would never be in it. There must always be an empty tent and the kaffir should be on guard along the river. What is more, that was the position.
Yes, I am sorry that I have followed the example of General Smuts who never spoke of anything but kaffirs in this House, but I prefer to speak of Bantu; that is quite right. The report also said: “We found a group of desperate and dissatisfied farmers who told us inter alia: ‘No one wants to listen to our problems any more; the Landbouweekblad is our last resort.’” How can they say that while just previously, five doctors, all of them veterinarians, and I myself had been in the area and we had discussed the matter with the farmers to the great satisfaction of all? But now it is said that their last resort is the Landbouweekblad. And what has the Landbouweekblad done to help alleviate the position? [Time limit.]
I have every sympathy with the farmers who are having difficulties with foot and mouth disease, but the hon. member will forgive me if I do not follow him any further in discussing the tents and the emptiness of these tents.
I want to discuss another matter. I want to discuss the conservation of the catchment areas of our rivers, the large areas in our country which have to serve our rivers as catchment areas. I want the hon. the Minister to tell us this afternoon what is being done in this regard. I am of course particularly concerned about the catchment area of the Tugela River which runs through my constituency and where I find that the position is deteriorating by the day, in that the silt which is coming down the river is increasing greatly. The Department is responsible for soil conservation in those catchment areas which in the case of the Tugela cover a vast area. It stretches from the foot of the Drakensberg, a sand bed as it is called, and stretches for 175 miles from the north above Bergville, right through to Nquberu, through Colenso, and, as I have said, we find from surveys which have been made in the Tugela that the silt content in the river is increasing tremendously. Before going any further I want to add that in this particular catchment area there are exceptionally large Bantu areas, and I do not know exactly who is responsible for soil conservation in those areas —whether it is this Minister or the hon. the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development. But I just want to point out that the areas covered by the Bantu reserves are very large. In the case of Crocodile River we find that there are 280 square miles occupied by Bantu, in the case of the Komati, 390 square miles, and in the case of the Usutu only 22, and in the case of Pongola 533 square miles in the catchment area, but in the Tugela catchment area Natives occupy 2,547 square miles. It is of course of the utmost importance that this land should in fact fall under the Minister’s soil conservation schemes, and it is of such great importance because, as I have said, we find that the silt which is coming down in the river is increasing year by year. In 1955-6 there was 1,850 tons of silt for every square mile in the catchment area. This river of course has an extremely strong flow and that is why the silt content is so disturbingly high. The Tugela itself is fed by other rivers which all have the same down flow. I am referring to the Sundays River, the Mooi River, the Bushman River and the Little Tugela. But, Mr. Chairman, we find that the amount of silt is increasing year by year, to such an extent that while 480,000 tons came down the river during the year 1956-7, it had increased to 660,000 tons by 1957-8 (i.e. within the space of one year). This is of course an extremely high rate. The survey to which I have referred was undertaken at Bergville. About 50 miles away at Colenso, the silt content was already so high that in 1956-7 1,800,000 tons came down the river and this rose to 2,600,000 by 1957-8. And at Mandi, which is the last place covered by the survey, it had increased to 12,000,000 tons per annum by 1957-8. These are extremely high figures and I find it particularly noticeable that while we have had these debates year after year, this is one subject which has received practically no attention. I have studied the Hansards for the past five or six years and nowhere could I find any record showing that the Minister or a member of this House has had anything to say about the preservation and protection of these river catchment areas. I therefore think that it would be of great value if the hon. the Minister will tell us to-day what is being done and what steps are being taken to stop the over-grazing which is taking place in these catchment areas. A very large proportion of the catchment area to which I have just referred is State-owned land for which the Government itself and the Department in particular are responsible. As a result of over-grazing the vegetation is being diminished; because so large an area is occupied by Natives many trees are being chopped down and the soil is being exhausted to an ever-increasing extent, with the result that the silt content is so high that it is endangering the industries which it is planned will be established lower down the river. This shows the seriousness of the position because water is of course one of the essential requirements for the agricultural industry and for the general development of the country. I should therefore like to ask the Minister what his Department is doing in this regard.
I am not in the habit of wasting the time of this House by speaking too often and too long, but I would just like to exchange thoughts with the Minister on two matters. Cannot we perhaps devote more attention to the new development in regard to inseminating animals? It is of so much importance that I feel we should immediately establish a separate research section to deal with it, with the necessary technicians. I just want to say that I have had this idea for years already. Forty-two years ago I did my own research on my farm in South West. I bred 32 mules from horse mares which I inseminated from a donkey stallion which refused to serve the mares. They were beautiful mules. I also spayed hundreds of cows 42 years ago, and they became beautifully fat. They almost resembled oxen. I feel that this matter was neglected after that time. Last year I again wanted to buy a spaying instrument in the Union but could not obtain one in the whole of the Union. I had to go back to my farm in South West to fetch my old instrument and I am still using it to-day. Recently a research station in Britain fertilized the female ovaries of sheep and then sent them in a rabbit to the Union, and now we have six full-bred Border Leicester lambs which were bred from ewes of another breed here. The method is to fertilize the ovum, and to send it over here, where it is again placed in the female body, with the result that all our ideas in regard to stud breeding will be changed during the next few years. I feel that our farmers in South Africa, even though we are in the forefront, should do more in this direction and devote much more attention to it. Australia has prohibited the exportation of merino lambs, but hitherto no law has been passed prohibiting the fertilization of the ovary there and its being sent here in a rabbit, so that we might perhaps breed the best of rams here. The same applies to other countries. The best herds in the world can now be cheaply exported in this way. In the case of the best racehorses we can have the ovum fertilized there, have it sent here in a rabbit, and we can breed the best racehorses here if only we have technicians to assist us. Our conception of breeding will change within the next few years. I merely ask the Minister to give us clear guidance along the right road. It is imperative in the case of a country like South Africa, which still has to import so many stud animals from other countries, that we should concentrate fully on this matter. The same process can, of course, be applied to the immigration policy of the world. In the same way that these six Border Leicester rams came to South Africa so, on the same principle, one can transfer the whole of the population from a small island to the north of Scotland to, e.g. the Midwest. It is the same principle, and biologically it is quite possible. The immigration problem of many countries will perhaps in future be solved in this manner.
I now leave this matter, but I hope the Minister will consider this idea further. The other matter I want to refer to is that we hear so often that in future there will be a shortage of beef. The fact is that to-day we have the most expensive mutton in the world, but our beef is just about the cheapest. In regard to cattle farming, the trouble is that we concentrate mostly on the compounds in Johannesburg, which is our biggest market. We have gradually developed a taste for it. Our people no longer want to eat good meat. They are not accustomed to it any longer. That should be encouraged again. To-day mutton is 20c in Maitland. That has been the case for weeks already. Beef is 12½c for first-grade beef. In the past we have eaten up the big oxen from the whole of the Free State and the Transvaal. In South West big oxen are no longer obtainable. Our cattle are becoming lighter and lighter. Our cattle population is just about the same number still, viz. 11,000,000, but the animals weigh between 100 lbs. and 200 lbs. less per head. In this way we are eating all our beef. We are also eating our donkeys; they have been completely exterminated already. We know that there were millions of donkeys in South Africa. [Laughter.] Whether we ate them or exported them to Europe makes no difference. My hon. friends are laughing, but many of those donkeys went through the sausage machine. Let us leave the matter there and think for ourselves what happened to all these donkeys. We will never have a shortage of good beef—never. If we fix the price of first-grade beef at R15 per 100 lbs., we can turn our maize into beef, and the country which is fortunate enough to have enough maize can never have a shortage of good beef. In future, if the price is right, South Africa will again go back to eating good beef and the compound animal will then become scarce.
On this occasion when addressing the House for the first time, I would like to pay tribute to my honoured predecessor, the late Mr. Bezuidenhout, who represented the constituency in this House. It is most fitting, in an agricultural debate, that I should pay tribute to a typical product of the soil, somebody who until the end of his life loved the soil and always lived close to it. Our experience also is that a person who remains anchored to the soil leaves a very deep impression on our national life. Therefore, I take pleasure in paying tribute to his memory on this occasion.
I would like to congratulate the hon. the Minister and his Department on that very excellent publication the “Hulpboek vir Boere in Suid-Afrika”, one of the best publications we have seen in recent times. There we have a publication of very high quality. Its cover is an ornament to any bookshelf, not only for the farmer but for anybody. It is definitely an acquisition and it is bound very attractively and firmly. In regard to its content, hon. members will still remember the first “Hulpboek vir Boere in Suid-Afrika” which was published in 1929 when the late General Kemp was Minister of Agriculture. That was also an excellent book at the time, but we have made much progress and this “Hulpboek vir Boere” which has now been published is an excellent reference book. Sir, the contents are most comprehensive. It is a reference book; it is really a book the farmers should study, and it makes a mass of knowledge available to the farmer which normally would not be available to him. One can really recommend this book and I would like to express the wish that it will have a wide circulation throughout the country.
A further and very important aspect is that it was written by experts, but in such a way that it makes the information available in the most clear and practical way and in very simple language. For that reason I take pleasure in congratulating the Minister on that work.
I would like to discuss a matter with the Minister affecting the veterinary officers of the Department. We often find that veterinarians have to spend much of their time doing administrative work and I wonder whether the time has not arrived when veterinarians should be divorced from administrative work and that this part of their duty should be taken over by administrative staff, so that the veterinarian will have much more time available to do the work for which he has been trained. We feel that the duties of the veterinarian should be more in the direction of giving guidance and precautionary advice, and that he should not merely be an animal doctor but a preceptor. In view of the fact that stock diseases constitute one of the greatest problems with which stock farmers have to cope we would like to see more guidance being given in that direction and that the veterinarians should take more precautionary steps, and that the stock inspectors should rather take the administrative work on their shoulders and that also the assistant inspectors, as we have them in the Department to-day, should rather concern themselves with guidance than with control. Where to-day they have to exercise control over certain aspects of stock farming in certain districts, we would prefer them to do so in an advisory capacity.
I want to discuss a matter in connection with meat research. Hon. members will know that in the U.S.A. purchasing habits constitute a very important part of statistical research, and I feel that the time has perhaps arrived for us to institute a similar investigation in South Africa and that similar research should be done in order to ascertain what the taste of the people is in regard to the purchase of meat. Let us do research to determine what the requirements are in the retail trade, and let us particularly get the point of view of the housewife in this regard, because it is a well-known fact that the taste of the housewife to a large extent determines how well a product sells. I would like to say that beef is particularly a protein product and that the fat we put on it is essentially a carbohydrate. Now in our country we produce surpluses of carbohydrate at a very low price, but there is a world shortage of protein; and should we not concentrate on producing more proteins and less carbohydrates, particularly in regard to meat? Should we not concentrate on producing a better quality of meat without putting the emphasis too much on the fat on that meat? Without in any way going into the economic aspects of this matter, it is quite clear to me that the quality of meat is no longer influenced as much as it was in the past, and that the price also is no longer reflected in the quantity of fat which the meat contains, but that the tendency is in the opposite direction, and that the differences between the grades are reflected in the taste. This is where I wish to revert to research into taste and requirements.
Mr. Chairman, I want to conclude by pleading with the Minister to consider establishing an agricultural college in the Eastern Transvaal Highveld. Here we are dealing with an area which, although geologically it is similar to an area of the Free State which already has an agricultural college, it still has specific and special circumstances which may possibly justify the establishment of an agricultural college there. We are dealing here with an area which has a fairly high rainfall, with the consequential differences in regard to ecological aspects from the other areas which are served by the agricultural colleges in the Eastern Transvaal Highveld area. We are dealing here with norite soils which, with this high rainfall, create different conditions. Once again, I do not want to discuss the economic implications of the matter. There are definite economic factors which are developing in the Highveld areas, particularly in the Eastern Transvaal Highveld, which make it imperative that we should have the best guidance possible at this time. I should like to express the wish that the hon. the Minister will favourably consider establishing an agricultural college in the Eastern Transvaal. Thank you.
I would like to associate myself with the hon. member who has just made his maiden speech in paying tribute to his predecessor who was our colleague here for many years. I am glad that he remembered his predecessor in his maiden speech. This hon. new member stated his case clearly, objectively and calmly, and we want to express the hope that in the years that lie ahead he will continue putting his case in that calm manner. He will find that we will not always agree with him, but that is what politics are like. We hope that his presence here will be to the benefit of the House and to his constituency.
In the first place, I would like to associate myself with the hon. member in paying tribute to the extension officers of the Department. I have always found that the officials of the Department are only too willing to rush to our assistance, sometimes under the most difficult circumstances and sometimes when they are already overworked. I would like, on behalf of all the farmers in the area where I farm, and where the hon. member who has just sat down also farms, to thank all those people and to express the hope that the hon. the Minister will convey this to them and to the Department.
My hon. friend also referred to the “Hulpboek aan Boere”. That is a great bit of work, but in my opinion it contains too much information for the ordinary farmer. We do not all go in for all the branches of agriculture it covers, and I have wondered whether it is not possible to publish these books in sections to, e.g., stock farmers, which will contain information in regard to medicines, farming methods, etc., in connection with stock farming; or in regard to Friesland or Jersey stud farming or horse-breeding or maize growing.
How many books will then have to be issued?
I also find that these books are too expensive. The majority of our farmers cannot afford it, and sometimes it is a little too technical. I also wonder whether the language cannot be simplified a little.
Then in regard to the administrative work done by veterinarians which was mentioned by my hon. friend, I quite agree with him. I said here a few years ago that our veterinarians were too valuable to our farmers to sit in the office and do secretarial work. They are officials who should travel about amongst the farmers. They should always and under all circumstances be available to the farmer. Therefore I would also like to urge the Minister to do something in regard to our veterinarians to give them greater opportunities to go about amongst the farmers. I want to say, and I say it to their honour, that these men are overworked. We overwork them, and particularly in some districts, particularly Northern Natal where I come from and about which I know something—there where we have to do so much with East Coast fever and other serious stock diseases—these people are overworked. There are not enough of them, and then they still have to sit in the office to write reports, and often they also have to type their official letters themselves. I think that is asking too much of them.
But what I really want to discuss with the Minister this afternoon is a different matter. In connection with the building of an ordinary dipping tank the farmer receives a subsidy; he is assisted and it is only right that he should receive assistance. It is right that he should receive assistance from the State. But the old type of dipping tank is a “plunge dip”, as it is called in English, and that is going out of fashion now. It is not healthy for the cattle. For example, the shock suffered by cows in milk is not good; the shock to cows in calf is unhealthy. For years now some of us have had spray dips, and therefore we know. Although a spray dip is much more expensive, in the long run it is far more economical than the ordinary dip. But the outlay of initial capital is big, and I wonder whether the State will not consider giving a subsidy to farmers who want to build spray dips. I know the spray dip and I know how well it works. I know what effect it has on cattle, and I know that my cattle, particularly my cows, maintain their milk production much more regularly after they have gone through a spray dip. It has no effect on them because they simply walk through. They actually enjoy it. I think it is high time for the State to modify its policy in this regard and to evolve a scheme to render assistance to farmers in this regard also.
For once we can say that matters have gone very smoothly in so far as hon. members opposite are concerned; I think we can say that the hearts of hon. members opposite were with the farmer to-day and that they were very moderate. We can say that, except in connection with one of the hon. members opposite, the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher), who completely over-stepped the red line. He should not blame me for looking at him now.
The hon. member for Gardens (Mr. Connan) started off very nicely; he objected to the fact that we had too few of this type of official and too many of the other, and said that we needed many more of them in agriculture. I agree with him. It is essential that we should have them. But then the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) came along and disturbed the situation which the hon. member for Gardens had sketched for the Minister’s consideration. He blamed the Minister as if the Minister was the only one who has to bear the guilt for the fact that there are not enough officials. That is why I cannot agree with him. He is a good farmer, because did he not say so himself to-day? He must forgive me for also being on the war-path now, like he was. Did he not tell the hon. member on this side that he was a better farmer than the man who had been trained? He said he was a good farmer. I want to accept that, and I will believe it if he says so. I do not want to say he is better than the other man, but I will believe that he is good. But what he said here proved to me that he is not a very good Member of Parliament, because if he was he would have seen some good in the work done by the Minister who really does his best as far as we can see. The hon. member will not admit it, but he forgets his own duties and he wants to saddle the Minister with them. Let me put a few questions. If the hon. member had done his duty as a farmer in the area in which he lives he would not have told us how the farmers there are struggling because of the shortage of officials, because a good Member of Parliament will live with his farmers and give guidance and he will help to complement the shortage of manpower by arranging farmers’ days so that when an official is invited to address and lecture to the farmers they will be there, in order that it may be of value to a number of farmers and not only to one.
Do you do that?
Yes, you can come and see. I should be glad if the hon. member would come. That hon. member did not do that, but now he has a lot to say. I wonder whether we do not have a duty in this House and whether as representatives, as leaders in certain constituencies, we do not have a duty which we must perform. I did not notice anybody coming along with a scheme submitted to the Minister by the Member of Parliament as the leader of the area he represents, in order to assist the farmers. We only hear criticism and complaints about what must be done. Then we still have the temerity, as the hon. member for Gardens had, to say that something should be done. I agree, but what did the hon. member for Gardens do? Did the hon. member try to put into practice what he knows and feels? Did he convey to his fellow farmers the experience he has acquired as a good farmer? Did he show them what could be done? I am glad to have seen a good spirit revealed on the opposite side of the House today, but we should examine ourselves and ascertain what our duties are. I think we should assist ourselves. We should stand together. How many Members of Parliament arrange a farmers’ day in order to hold demonstrations, e.g. with machinery? How many of our farmers who complain about the drought were called together in order to be shown that there is machinery which can collect fodder cheaply so that a single man can work a large piece of land? How many have shown the farmers in their area what can be done? If there are some of us who did it then we did not tell the Minister about it, nor the other hon. members; then they kept it to themselves. Therefore I feel entitled to tell the hon. member that he may be a good farmer but that a good Member of Parliament will share the experience he gained as a good farmer with his fellow farmers. If he does his duty in this way, the shortage of officials will be supplemented. There may be four or five meetings in a district and a single official can give information to all the farmers. How many of us cattle farmers have invited an expert to our farms to address the farmers and to tell them what the correct type of animal is to breed there, and to explain the points of such an animal? No, Sir, we all run to the Minister and complain that he is not giving us enough of this or that, because we want the official to visit every farmer and to tell him: “I want to show you what a decent animal looks like,” instead of giving that information to a whole group of farmers at the same time.
Business suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
I want to discuss the question of the experiments on crops and pastures on page 196. I know I cannot speak about prices and that I must merely refer to it in passing, because this is germane to the argument I want to develop. I have done some 40 years of experimenting and research in pastures and crops. I want more research done into the increased yield of cash crops due to planting pastures. To-day prices of grain are fixed by the hon. the Minister of Agricultural Economics and Marketing, on the production costs in ratio to yield; and the argument is always used that the increased yield entitles him not to raise the price of the product just because of that higher yield. If you got 12 from 1 before and now get 20 from 1, the price does not have to be increased because your yield is so much higher, and compensates for the rising cost of production. What I want research done into is to find out in terms of rand and cents whether the so-called increase in yield is an increase in actual income over a fixed period of say ten years. For instance, the old methods of wheat growing up to 30 years ago in the South-Western Districts was on a rotation of wheat, oats, braak, wheat, oats; or in other words—four cash crops every five years. Now with the farmers putting down pastures and grain being grown on the pasturelands which are ploughed under when the pastures are beginning to get thin, the yield naturally is higher because the land has rested for five years, but the pasture rotation is five years of pastures, then two cash crops, i.e. two cash crops in seven years. Research could give a balance sheet or profit and loss account showing, on the credit side, the value of the grazing to stock and the pastures the value of the two cash crops; and on the debit side the expense of putting down the pastures. Compare this with a balance sheet based on research (under proper control, and not merely guesswork) as to the value of the cash crop when the land has not been put down to pasture. Only if this research is done, can a true picture be got, as to the cash value of the higher yield of the rotation of two cash crops in seven years, as compared with eight cash crops over a period of ten years. Only when this information is available can the Minister have a yardstick on which to base the price of grain based on yield, and not merely on cost of production. It is difficult to discuss this complicated costing without mentioning price fixation, but for the Minister of Agricultural Economics and Marketing to maintain that because the yield is higher therefore the price of grain should not be raised is unrealistic, and the only way the true values can be ascertained is by research carried out by experts on controlled plots over a number of years to find out whether the higher yield from the two cash crops in a seven-year rotation are more profitable than a lower yield with eight cash crops over a period of ten years. There are many considerations besides the actual expenditure and income, e.g. the improved fertility and the better structure of the soil over a period of ten years must be taken into account, because naturally when you grow the lucerne or other pastures you build up the structure of the soil, as well as the fertility, and that must make a difference and give you a higher yield than if you continuously grew one grain crop after the other. But even with a lower yield eight cash crops in ten years give a greater income than two cash crops in seven years.
I would also like to have research into another matter, and that is the feeding of wheat straw when sprayed with molasses and urea, and how this can be done to feed large quantities of stock. It is easy enough when you have cattle in the kraal, but when you have some thousands of sheep it is very difficult to treat sufficient straw economically with molasses and urea; besides urea can be a dangerous thing if too much of it is eaten. I would also like to know whether the baling of straw and selling it, as is now being done in large quantities in the South-Western Districts, is a sound policy. In other words, what is the value of the straw to the fertility and structure of the soil when it is allowed to remain on the land; and is it detrimental to the land to remove that straw? On the other hand, by ploughing it in you create a “negative period” whilst that straw is being broken down by the microbes and you have to apply a good amount of nitrogen fertilizer during the negative period. That is a matter which is of great importance and I would like to know what the costing of that would be. Can research also tell us what the value to soil fertility, quite apart from any humus content, is when you let the straw lie on the land instead of baling it? This season for the first time, we have taken 25,000 bales of straw off the land. That is used by fruit farmers and it is also used as feed. One notices that in Europe the straw is burnt on the land, and it is also done in this country to some extent, but there is this great difference, that here you are taking something which might become humus off the soil, whereas in Europe, due to their climate, there always is something growing; the soil is covered, and there is always some green growth that can be ploughed back into the soil, and so humus is provided. I would very much like to know; because when we took up “combining” in our area we did so because we wanted to leave the straw on the land. Before that we cut it with selfbinders and put it in the stacks and after thrashing we had large straw-stacks which were usually burnt; and we were told by the experts that we are destroying the humus which should have been returned to the soil. But now, after having “combined it” and letting the straw left spread on the soil, the farmers are beginning to have it baled and taken off the soil again. It is a very important factor and I would be grateful if research could be done into that. It is of the utmost importance that humus be allowed to form in the soil, and as ploughing in “green manure” is seldom done, the only source of humus is from the straw.
Mr. Chairman, I want to commence by thanking hon. members on both sides of the House most sincerely and by expressing my appreciation to them for the debate that has been held on this Vote. With one or two exceptions who, as the hon. member for Rustenberg (Mr. Botha) says, stepped over the red line, they have all made constructive contributions to this debate. I am convinced that all hon. members have realized that we are discussing one of the most important matters affecting the future of our country, namely, agriculture. The fact remains that it is a basic principle that the development of our country will depend to a large extent on what success we may achieve to-day and in the future with the utilization of the most valuable possession of any nation, namely its soil. It is my privilege and that of my Department to be concerned with the production aspects of agriculture. This includes the conservation and development of our agricultural resources in such a way that we do neglect the fertility of our soil but build it up and if possible even increase it still further. I do not think that we who are farmers and have the privilege to be the trustees and the guardians of this asset which does not belong to us primarily but to the nation and to future generations, should forget that our whole approach to farming, if we are fully aware of our responsibilities, should be such that we do not only enrich ourselves—and of course everyone is entitled to a decent livelihood, even if he is fulfilling a task on behalf of his nation or the future of his nation—but we must remember that we have been entrusted with this great task of preserving the soil of our nation and to improve it in such a way that future generation will derive greater benefit from it than we ourselves. I believe that any farmer—and if he were not an idealist, he would not be a farmer—should strive to realize the ideal of so utilizing the soil he owns that he leaves it to future generations in at least a better condition than he found it. Together with the preservation of the fertility of the soil it follows logically that it is our aim to increase the productive capacity of our soil, and I want to emphasize this aspect in particular. To increase the productive capacity of the soil does not merely mean to achieve an increased production per unit of soil or per unit of livestock or per unit of plants, but at the same time—and this is most important—emphasis must be placed on efficient and economic methods of production. Because if a farmer does not apply efficient and economic methods of production, he can be as idealistic as he likes, but he is then unrealistic and unpractical, and that is something a farmer cannot be. The Department is mainly concerned with research services which are aimed in the first place at helping the farmers to solve their problems—that is to say research in respect of the soil, plants and animals. In the second place, we are concerned with extension services and the education of our farmers in order to convey to the farmers the results of our research. In speaking of the problem of conveying this information, I want to say that I have noticed that various hon. members have placed emphasis this afternoon on the problem which has arisen and the failing which is involved in that problem, namely that the people who are concerned in the industry, the farmers, are not making proper use of the results which our research services have put at their disposal through the medium of my Department. They say that one can take a horse to the water but one cannot make it drink. In other words, we must admit that as a young country or nation and one which is descended mainly from farming stock, our whole nature is perhaps more conservative than that of the businessmen of the world who have been trained over the years to be more susceptible to changes which take place. A farmer is comparatively conservative, and it is a good thing that he is, because if he were not, he would not have been the bearer of those other spiritual characteristics which it has been his mission to propagate as part of the population of all countries in the world. We are faced with the problem of adult education. It is far easier to instill certain ideas in a child in a primary school than it is in the case of adults.
In conveying our knowledge to our farmers we are dealing with a highly technical problem, that is to say the adult education of the most conservative element in the whole country. I believe that this is also the reason why we must confess almost to our shame that of the 3,000 new farmers who enter the agricultural industry annually, only about 10 per cent have received any form of agricultural training, while the other 90 per cent have not had any such training. I think that this can be attributed to the failure of our farmers in general to realize that such training is essential if they are to adjust themselves to the new era in which we are living, to the fiercer competition with which we are faced and to developments in agriculture, that is to say, to realize that the time is passed when the farm farmed for the farmer. The success of the farming activities on any farm is no longer determined by the soil as such, but by its owner, by his ability and knowledge, by his love of the soil and many other factors, but in effect by the potential of the farmer himself. The country is becoming ever more densely populated. There are many people who still believe that there is still a vast area of unoccupied agricultural land available in South Africa. May I tell hon. members that if they read the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the White occupancy of the rural areas correctly, they will see that that Commission places great emphasis on economic holdings and at the same time refers to large farms. If we are to neutralize these two factors and if we wish to divide our country’s agricultural land into proper economic units in accordance with the ecological areas, we cannot really place more people on the land than there are to-day. We can merely bring about a better distribution of the owners of our land. The Commission also came to the conclusion that if we were to utilize all the water resources in our country which we did not require for industrial purposes and tertiary consumption, it would only mean that we could place another 25,000 or at most 40,000 more farmers on the land. They will mostly be small farmers on irrigation units. That is the position as regards our agricultural potential and its further expansion. We must bear in mind that at least 85 per cent of our total agricultural land is only suitable for stock farming and for extensive farming and that only 15 per cent is available for intensive crop farming. This of course opens up a tremendous field and I am glad that hon. members have referred this afternoon to the problem of uneconomically small farms. Whether or not this subject has been discussed ad nauseam, I want to emphasize once again that we cannot afford to allow the ownership of excessively large tracts of land, particularly if the land is not properly utilized. There is a land hunger because there are so many people who from the nature of their ancestry have a devoted love for and are attracted to the land—I actually regard it as an evil that a few people own too much land. But I regard the very large number of people who own small areas of land which cannot give them an economic livelihood as a very serious evil and a problem which it is less easy to solve. I do so for two reasons. The one is that the problem of excessive land ownership solves itself naturally. The land may belong to one generation but there may be more than one child and the land is then subdivided. In other words, the fluctuations which result in the position reverting to normal are not accompanied by hardship, suffering and impoverishment. But the solution of the problem of unduly small farms, if left to the natural course of events, is always accompanied by very great hardship and the loss of human potential to the country. Why do I say this? Normally this problem is solved by the fact that the soil eventually forces its owner to leave it. Before a man is forced to leave his land, he goes through a period during which his activities are curtailed, a period during which he cannot provide properly for his children, nor can he give them a proper education. Eventually they all suffer from a lack of those things to which they are entitled in the interests of the future of our country, and at the same time the sacrifices have brought nothing with them but frustration and the confounding of all ideals and hopes, and the farmer finishes up in an urban area as a man who is untrained for the new work which he must now undertake; in other words, as an unskilled worker who must compete with so many non-White unskilled workers. For that reason one cannot fail to emphasize on all occasions—and I appeal to all members of the House, whether they are urban or rural representatives, to do so wherever they go and wherever they have to make speeches—this aspect of the sub-division of agricultural land into uneconomically small holdings.
The second aspect with which we are concerned, apart from research and guidance, is soil conservation and the planning of farms. Then there are the inspection and control services. I think that everyone appreciates the scope of the activities of my Department. Furthermore, everyone appreciates the importance of those activities. To carry out the Department’s task we require manpower. Hon. members have mentioned that there are delays in respect of farm planning and the payment of subsidies, for example. That is so, but it must not be forgotten that this small White population of ours has to provide all these technical and administrative officers, and there is not a single State Department to-day which is not suffering from a shortage particularly of administrative and technical staff. The staff position of my Department as regards our technical services—and it must be remembered that there is no other State Department which employs more professional people than my Department—is that the position as regards professional posts has improved to such an extent that we have even been able to undertake new services and not only do we envisage the expansion of our activities in the country but we have already done so. At present 1,231 of the 1,308 professional posts are filled. In other words, only about 77 professional posts are vacant. Of the 114 veterinary posts, 97 are occupied. While I am discussing this aspect I may just say that the improvement in the salaries and conditions of service of the veterinarians has resulted in our being able to make no less than 12 new appointments during the last three months. These are people who would otherwise never have joined the Department. We must remember that in the case of certain specialized services an extremely important factor is that the salary scales should not be disproportionate to the demand elsewhere in the country. Of the 225 posts for extension officers. 219 are filled. The Department has 1,008 technical posts on its establishment, of which 979 are filled. This is really my reply to the allegations that we are not looking ahead and planning ahead, but with a Department like mine it is necessary to take the requirements of the future into account. During the past recess my Department and myself have made this planning for the future our particular task. I think hon. members have seen the results from the Estimates, and that is my reply to the question of the hon member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) as to the reason for this increase in salaries and wages. I approached the Cabinet to obtain its approval for our plans regarding our agricultural technical services which would result in the expansion of the Department’s establishment. I said that I wanted to plan ten years ahead and that I wanted an increase of at least £1,000,000 because those were our requirements and we required these people and we could not plan our training and the granting of bursaries if we did not know that when such a person had completed his studies he would have a post waiting for him. The Government has agreed to accept these proposals, subject to the condition that in extending the establishment of my Department I do not exceed R350,000 during the course of this first year. In other words, in terms of our former currency, an additional amount of £175,000 has been made available for this year, and £150,000 for the next year. In addition the Cabinet has approved of the principle that there will be a proportionate expansion of the establishment, and I think that this is a very great step forward. This is my reply to the hon. member’s question.
I might add that hon. members have referred to the fact that veterinarians, technicians and extension officers are doing administrative work, while they should really be engaged on other work. Particular reference has been made to the veterinarians. I might just say that it is our policy—and we have created a completely new pattern of work for our veterinarians—that our veterinarians should really be responsible for providing information as regards the care of stock, the feeding of stock and the treatment of stock diseases. That is the work which they should do in their capacity as extension officers in the regions where they are stationed. But what is more, we have entrusted other tasks to our veterinarians, because every region that has a veterinarian, is almost without exception faced with a specific problem. If he does his work properly and takes an interest in it—and I want to give the assurance, as far as my whole Department and all its technical officers are concerned, that I do not think that we can find another Department in the whole Public Service which has officers who carry out their duties with such devotion, love and self-sacrifice.
Is it true that, when there is a veterinarian, he is not allowed to give attention to any stock if a private veterinarian is practising in that area?
I think the hon. member is incorrect when he says that a departmental veterinarian is not allowed to provide services if there is a private veterinarian in his area. This is not correct. If any of my veterinarians has adopted that attitude, I can promise the hon. member that I shall go into the matter and put it right. If this was his attitude, I can assure the hon. member that he would not have adopted that attitude without the permission of the Department. Then I want to say that our veterinarians are sometimes expected to do work which the farmer himself should really do. Take injections, for example. It is not the veterinarian’s task to give animals injections on behalf of the farmer. It is the task of the veterinarian to tell the farmer how to give an injection and to give him a demonstration. But there are instances where the farmer does not want to or does not feel inclined to give the injection himself and then he expects the State veterinarian to do it for him free of charge. That is not the task of the State veterinarian. I want to enlarge on this point. In future we are in effect going to assess our veterinarians on merit, merit in the sense that we shall not look to see whether he is in his office every day, but to what extent he observes the problems facing the area in which he lives, and to what extent he shows initiative in undertaking research, for example, in carrying out projects aimed at solving such problems locally, and in sending such problems as he cannot solve locally to Onderstepoort, for example, for investigation, attention and solution. That is the only way in which we can do so and this is the only way in which we can make the best use of the staff which we have at our disposal. I just want to give an example. With the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, which no one foresaw, our veterinary resources were completely immobilized because we had to call in our veterinarians from all over the country to man the cordons so that this feared disease would not spread to areas where it had not yet made itself evident. The result was that much of the essential and technical work which they had to do fell into arrears. That was unfortunate.
During the last financial year we paid no less than something over £2,000,000 in subsidies, rebates and loans in respect of soil conservation works to farmers. This entailed the opening and keeping up to date no less than 72,000 files. How large an administrative staff does one not require to undertake that task? The result was that our administrative staff simply could not cope with the work. What did we do? We adopted the other practical solution. We held the plans back a little; we delayed granting approval of such schemes. Of what value is it if, when we have approved a farmer’s proposed planning of his farm, and he asks us to provide him with certain services in terms of that planning, we cannot do so? If we cannot provide him with advice, we are only creating more dissatisfaction than when we delay the planning itself. This is really my reply to the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher). At the end of November last year there were more than 5,000 files with which we could not deal. I am glad to say that we have taken administrative staff off other work with the result that I can state to-night that at the moment only 1,500 files are awaiting attention. This is the best we have been able to do because the necessary administrative staff was simply not available.
I am mentioning these facts so that hon. members and the country can be fully informed as to the position. Hon. members must also realize that the type of administrative staff I require is such that I cannot simply take a man from the street and appoint him. It takes such a man at least two years, if not longer, before he is really familiar with the duties, responsibilities and demands entailed in the work he must do. Such a person must be given a measure of training in the Department before one can say that he can do this or that work properly and before one can place the responsibility entailed on his shoulders. I therefore want to assure hon. members that it is not due to a lack of foresight, vision or planning, but that the position is merely due to hard facts which we must face and there is not always an obvious solution. We realize that in the case of our technical staff especially, we have too few such men in this country to be able to waste our resources. It is for this reason that I, for example, appointed the Rautenbach Committee last year. I think I announced during the last session that I was going to appoint this committee. And I appointed the committee towards the end of last year with specific instructions that if possible they should submit their report this year. This is an outstanding committee under the chairmanship of Prof. Rautenbach, the rector of the University of Pretoria. The terms of reference of this committee are to investigate the efficient functioning of the Department of Agricultural Technical Services. They will of course inquire into all sorts of matters, such as salaries, conditions of service, etc., but their main task is to submit a report on any reorganization within the Department which they can recommend and which will benefit the country as a whole by making more effective use of the scientists at our disposal.
The question now arises: What should we do with the staff we have at our disposal? I just want to mention one or two aspects in this regard. I want to tell hon. members what we have in mind and what we are doing. As I have said, we are not only proceeding with the work for which my Department has always been responsible, but we are undertaking new services and accepting new tasks. We are introducing and developing new services. We hear so much about how essential it is that more effective guidance in respect of agricultural engineering, etc., should be made available. To establish an agricultural mechanical and engineering division would involve heavy expenditure. The Cabinet has however approved of the principle and I have appointed a director for such a division and such a division has been established. In consultation and co-operation with the C.S.I.R. and other organizations which are also undertaking research in this field, a plan has now been drawn up for the development of such a division within the Department of Agricultural Technical Services. I shall in due course submit this plan to the Cabinet for its approval of the full financial implications. I think this is a step in the right direction and I am sure that it will be applauded throughout the country. Furthermore, we are expanding our extension and research services in the various regions of our country where such expansion is required. I am thinking for example of the Eastern Cape region which we have recently made a separate region. This is an area which in the past has not enjoyed the attention it deserves. This is a region which is faced with tremendous agricultural problems and bearing in mind the agricultural potential of this region with its comparatively regular rainfall, I believe that it is in the interests of the country that we are giving precedence to the development of this Eastern Cape region.
The hon. member for Prieska (Mr. Stander) has discussed the necessity for the establishment of an experimental farm in the North-West. I want to tell the hon. member that the Department does not merely envisage the establishment of one experimental farm in the North-West. We envisage a centrally situated research station in the North-West with various branches. These branches will include various experimental farms. I can almost describe that area as the meat safe of the country. This is an area in which we encounter various problems and factors. These factors and problems have not yet been properly investigated and hitherto my Department has not been able to give the farmers of that area the necessary information and guidance. We are now going to do so to the best of our ability. I just want to say that we have obtained land from the municipality of Upington and we are now proceeding with the establishment of a karakul experimental farm. We are establishing an agricultural experimental farm along the Orange River which will eventually not only serve the closer settlements in that area, but the research undertaken on that experimental farm will be to the benefit of all the settlers on the various settlements along the Orange River which are there to-day and which will be established in the future. We are therefore not only engaged on regional research; this is research which is being applied over a wide field. We envisage the establishment of an experimental farm in Langkloof for example. We have approved in principle of the establishment of a viticultural experimental station in the Little Karroo. I do not want to include Robertson in the Little Karroo because the Little Karroo is particular as to who should be allowed into its company! I always feel inclined to tell Robertson that it and Worcester really fall under the Western Cape. I shall include Montagu in the Little Karroo if the hon. member for Swellendam asks me very courteously. In any case, the experimental farm which we intend establishing there has been approved of in principle; we must just acquire the land. There are other institutions which have been established during the past year. I am thinking for example of the viticultural research institute at Nietvoorby. I am thinking of the agricultural faculty at Bloemfontein. The buildings for this faculty are nearly complete. I am thinking of the Addo Research Laboratory which was opened recently. This is a citrus research station. As regards the hon. member for Green Point (Maj. van der Byl) who still farms at Bredasdorp, I can tell him that we now have an experimental farm which serves the south-western grain areas—Bredasdorp, Caledon, Riviersonderend, Heidelberg and those areas. We have bought an experimental farm at Riviersonderend and we are now developing and staffing that experimental farm. Research will be undertaken into all the matters which the hon. member for Green Point has mentioned here to-night. I think those matters are of basic importance. Research into these matters will be undertaken on that experimental farm. I am thinking of the experimental farm at Ermelo which previously was only a veterinary station, but which is now to be made a general experimental farm.
The hon. member for Prieska has said that they experience such great difficulties with geeldikkop. In addition there is vermeersiekte and 101 other diseases. In the meantime we are investigating the problem of geeldikkop in the north-western areas particularly by using the mobile laboratory which the Meat Board has presented to us and for which we are very grateful. We are undertaking that research locally. Our mobile units have been operating there during the past year. We have two of them and we are now undertaking the type of research which we feel must be undertaken locally. I am merely mentioning this in passing. I am also thinking for example of the research we are undertaking at new institutions. They are now being given more attention than in the past. I wonder how many hon. members are aware of the work being done and the development and the results being achieved by our research. I wonder if hon. members are aware of what we have already achieved in the case of radio isotopes at Stellenbosch. I can give the House the assurance that the scientists of the Department of Agriculture are not concentrating on this type of work to the exclusion of a proper study of all the research results which have been achieved and the methods which are being applied at the highest level and in all advanced countries abroad. Scientific knowledge fortunately is something which is exchangeable and something that is freely exchanged. While we derive great benefit from scientific publications on results achieved abroad. I want to say to-night, and I do so with pride, that I do not believe that there is another country in the world which is making a great contribution per capita of its White population in the field of agricultural science as South Africa.
The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) has said inter alia that he sees that there has been a decrease in the amount provided to the Department of Agricultural Technical Services in respect of grants-in-aid. There has been no decrease. The only decrease is that R2,000,000 has been provided and the reason is that last year we allotted R1,000,000 for tobacco research and R1,000,000 for viticultural research. These amounts appeared on the Estimates last year but it is not necessary to make the same provision again on this year’s Estimates. In other words, we have only budgeted for our normal expenditure this year. There has therefore in reality not been a decrease. That is the explanation of this decrease.
The hon. member for Albany (Mr. Bowker) was concerned about our membership of the Commonwealth Bureaux. The position has not changed at all because we are becoming a republic. We can remain a member without begging to be allowed to do so. It depends on us whether we want to remain a member. Even if we were to decide not to remain a member because of the membership fees, all the information and all the publications which are available to the members of those bureaux are also available to us at a fee, just as they are available to all the other countries which do not belong to these bureaux. We have not yet decided whether we are in fact going to remain a member. That is a matter which must be considered. The Government will decide in due course whether it is necessary for us to remain a member of all these bureaux or whether we should obtain the necessary information by this other method.
The hon. member has also asked a question about the universities. Our contributions and subsidies to the universities are determined by the research projects relating directly to agriculture which the various universities—whether they have agricultural faculties or not—institute. The method of subsidization is as follows: We encourage the universities to undertake basic research in respect of agriculture. If Rhodes University or Natal University or any other university wishes to develop a certain project which relates directly to agriculture, then they notify us and say what they consider such a project will cost. In such a case the Department subsidizes that university in respect of that research. The universities are subsidized in other fields by the C.S.I.R. particularly. The C.S.I.R. does not undertake all the research itself. Much of the research which the C.S.I.R. could perhaps undertake itself but which it is not undertaking due to lack of accommodation or staff, is entrusted to the universities. We should very much like to encourage our universities to undertake research into agricultural problems so that they can train research workers for us, and that is why we subsidize them. There is no discrimination against any university. The amount is determined by what work such a university is doing in respect of agricultural research.
Has the hon. the Minister ever considered granting a prize for this type of research? In Australia for example a prize has been granted in respect of research into cactoblastis. That may act as an encouragement.
We have not yet considered that suggestion. In principle I agree with the hon. member. It may act as an encouragement. It is not necessary to specify in advance in respect of what type of research we shall grant such a prize. We can wait until the results become available. I think that if we were to adopt such a policy whereby we can show our appreciation, it will stimulate our research officers to exert themselves even more than they are already doing. I may say that I have no criticism of the way in which they are undertaking their research work at the moment.
Then I just want to add, Mr. Chairman, that over the past few years we have made no less than R1,000,000 available to agricultural students in the form of bursaries. The Public Service Commission has made a small contribution to these bursaries but the major portion has come from the agricultural control boards—the Mealie Control Board, the Meat Control Board, the Tobacco Control Board, and others. I want to take this opportunity to thank those control boards most sincerely on behalf of my Department for the contribution which they have made towards the training of these vitally important officials, i.e. qualified technical staff.
The question of fertilizer has been raised. The hon. member for Florida (Mr. H. G. Swart) has objected and has said that he is not all that sure that these heavy applications of fertilizer which the fertilizer agents are recommending are to the benefit of the farmers. I agree with him. However, I want to give him the advice that he should tell his farmers that they should first ascertain what advice the Department of Agricultural Technical Services can give them as regards the use of fertilizers. The Department of Agricultural Technical Services is not interested in the amount of fertilizer being sold. I can asure the hon. member that the Department definitely does not recommend these heavy applications of fertilizer which the representatives of fertilizer companies often recommend. While I am referring to the fertilizer companies, may I just say this: The platteland representatives of most of the fertilizer companies are highly qualified persons whom they have obtained from the Department. I have already discussed the matter with the companies myself and I therefore want to do so here again. I have already pointed out to them the responsibility which they have in this regard, namely that, since they require technical officers and technical extension officers, they, also have a responsibility as regards the training of such technical staff. They cannot always live as parasites on the Department of Agricultural Technical Services and the agricultural industry. They must make a contribution themselves. I also want to say that the fertilizer dealers have established an organization and we shall see whether we cannot establish greater co-ordination between the advice which their officials give our farmers and that which our Department with its experience gives our farmers. In the past we have not been able to achieve such co-ordination because they had not yet established the required organization. Seeing that we are both serving the interests of the farmers, we shall be able to do so more effectively by means of co-ordination and we are therefore giving attention to the matter.
In conclusion I want to say something about foot and mouth disease. Before doing so I just want to discuss the question of fibre. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Mr. Dodds) has asked me what we are actually doing in respect of research into fibre. As far as I know we have three types of fibre in the country. I shall start with the least known of these, namely, pineapple fibre. Then we have the New Zealand flax fibre—I think it is called Phormium Tenax. The third type we have is the stokroos fibre—kenaf. As far as pineapple fibre is concerned, I was at East London three weeks ago. I take a particular interest in this matter because I know in what a critical financial position the pineapple farmers are. I have investigated the position personally in order to ascertain how the research is progressing. Unfortunately my raincoat is hanging in my office; otherwise I would have shown hon. members what we have already achieved. The problem is not whether the pineapple plant contains fibre. There is sufficient fibre. The problem has been to develop a decorticating method whereby the fibre will be harmed as little as possible and as much fibre as possible produced and as little as possible lost. As a result of all the experiments we have undertaken and the funds which the State has made available for the development of decorticating machines, we have now made such progress that there are two machines available. They are two simple machines, but a simple combination of the two mechanical methods is used. This machine can be used for decorticating pineapples and it is within the financial capacity of a proper pineapple farmer. We have also undertaken experiments in respect of the planting methods and the number of plants per morgen. I am very optimistic, so much so that I feel I can say that within the next year we shall be able to recommend planting methods to the farmers by which they will be able to improve their economic position as pineapple producers to such an extent that they will no longer need to complain that they cannot make a decent living. That is the first point. Pineapple fibre however is of too high a quality to be used for the manufacture of bags and woolpacks. It is such a magnificent fibre that I think it can be used for clothing. Curtaining could also be woven from it. It is a beautiful fibre.
The other fibre, that is to say Phormium Tenax, is a type which grows particularly in Natal. It takes a long time to grow. It takes about five years before one can get a proper crop. It does well in our country and there are large areas which are suitable for the cultivation of this fibre but the difficulty in the case of this type of fibre is the manufacturing aspect. When this fibre product is delivered to the decorticating factories, the farmer is only paid for a certain portion of his crop. We are already producing 1,000 tons of this fibre per annum. But the farmers suffer considerable losses because they are only paid for part of the fibre and the other part is lost. This makes it an uneconomic proposition. The Department of Agricultural Technical Services invited an authority on fibres, a certain Mr. Hale who comes from New Zealand, to come to South Africa with two objects in mind. In the first place he has inspected the factories which are decorticating Phormium Tenax because in New Zealand they grow it successfully. He came therefore in the first place to examine their manufacturing processes and to see whether they could not be improved. Secondly, he was asked to advise us as regards the cultivation of this fibre. He came to South Africa and his comments were that the fibre which we grow in South Africa, as a result of our climatic conditions and types of soil, is really a better quality fibre than that which they cultivate in New Zealand. He had never seen better fibre and he had never seen a higher yield than here in South Africa. He also visited our factories and as a result of certain adjustments which he recommended, we hope to achieve far greater success in future. My information is that the adjustments have already been put into operation and that they are now using the fibre as delivered with a far smaller loss than previously. I now want to tell the House that we do not really regard this type of fibre as an agricultural product which is really meant for cultivation by Whites. We really regard it as a product which should be reserved for cultivation by the Bantu because it is an easy product and it is one which suits them. We do not want to encourage the Whites of this country to cultivate it but we really want to reserve it as a Bantu industry. I now understand that there is really only one large firm which has these fibre plants. One has to cultivate these plants for some years before one can use them and they have 20,000,000 such plants. These plants are rather expensive. When they found that we could make a success of the fibre, the prices of these plants rose. This is only human, but there are not many plants available in this country. In the course of time more will become available from the farmers who have planted them in the past.
The third type of fibre is the stokroos. We started with the wild stokroos, but it has been found that wild or not, it is not the best type. I want to assure hon. members that we are producing seed at Roodeplaat near Pretoria from no less than 29 different stokroos varieties and we are undertaking experiments with the different varieties. We have excellent varieties, so much so that experts on the cultivation of stokroos, people from other countries who have seen our stokroos growing there, have said that they have never seen it do better than at Roodeplaat. We did not know enough about this matter. The main difficulty is the retting, decortication, etc. On the instructions of the Government, my Department then decided that it would undertake an economic experiment because there is the possibility that it may even be possible to produce it under irrigation. We had to establish what the yield of this stokroos would be, when it was properly cultivated and when the correct type was planted. We did not know that it entailed so much work when we placed 300 morgen under stokroos. I think that we deserve the praise of all, but we have only now learnt that the largest stokroos plantation in the world is only 100 morgen in extent, in other words that we have planted three times as much as the largest known individual stokroos producer. But I still consider that it is to the credit of the Minister and his Department that we have undertaken this experiment on a larger scale than the rest of the world, instead of on a smaller scale. I do not want hon. members to say once again: “Why so ambitious?” and they must not say that we have been too enterprising, because when we are not enterprising enough, they criticize us and when we are, then they say we are too ambitious. As far as the cultivation is concerned, we have the “know-how”, The only difficulty relates to the retting and decorticating. We must now seek methods whereby we can do so more cheaply than Pakistan because the economic factor is an important one. They have cheap manual labour. These are the people who talk about the low standards of living in South Africa, but they pay their workers practically nothing—they have to live on practically nothing. We have to compete with them on the world markets or here in South Africa and the only way in which we can do so is not to try to do this work by using manual labour, but by mechanizing. I think the State has given us R50,000 for this experiment and we have obtained machinery from various parts of the world. We are not satisfied with the way the machines are working at present, but I believe that with the experience we are now acquiring, we can improve them. The crops are now being collected, and I want to ask hon. members to go and see what is happening at Roodeplaat because it is really interesting. I believe that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that on the basis of the various types of retting and decorticating machines which we have obtained from various countries we shall succeed in designing a machine which will be more efficient than those which we have imported and which are being used in other countries. Our engineers are engaged on this matter and we hope to design a machine which will be efficient. If we succeed, which I believe is within the bounds of possibility, then I want to tell the hon. members that I no longer have any fears of a fibre shortage, but that I believe we shall have to introduce certain control measures because we shall produce a surplus of fibre, that is to say, more than South Africa requires. That is the prospect which I see in the foreseeable future as regards the production of fibre in South Africa.
Within two years?
I do not want to put it at so short a period; make it five years.
On an economic basis?
Yes, our experience hitherto has been that we can produce such a fibre in South Africa at present world prices. The difficulty was first the manufacturing process and now the collecting of the crops. But I think that we shall even make such progress where we may be able to produce fibre on an economic basis and at a price which will be competitive on the world markets. I believe that in the future we shall become exporters of fibre instead of importers.
And now I just want to say a few words about foot and mouth disease, and I must say that I regard this as an important matter.
Before you leave that point, may I just ask a question? Have you gone into the question of the serum which has been developed in England for the immunization of cattle against foot and mouth disease?
I am glad the hon. member has mentioned that point. The Department is so up to date that by the time the hon. member had read about that serum, we already knew all about it. I shall reply further to the hon. member’s question. Mr. Chairman, we were unfortunate last year towards the end of July in having an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in our neighbouring territory, the Protectorate. The position as regards foot and mouth disease is that although the animals which contract the disease do not die, it is nevertheless a very serious disease and one which could constitute a very great threat to our country’s economy. It is consequently something with which one cannot take chances. I am deliberately mentioning the point that the cattle do not die, because I have heard so many practical farmers argue: “What is the danger of the disease if the animal does not die when it contracts it?” That is a realistic question because after all if that is so one need not be afraid of it. One is after all afraid of such a disease when the animal dies, but if its condition merely deteriorates, then one has far less reason to fear it. I do not want to enlarge on the reasons why we should be so afraid of this disease but the fact remains that foot and mouth disease broke out on a considerable scale in the Protectorate and we had to take action along the entire border. The first step one can of course take is to introduce restrictive measures on the movement of stock and the marketing of such stock. We also got into touch with the Federal Government, particularly the Government of Southern Rhodesia. At that time last year I happened to be the guest of the Federal Minister of Agriculture in the Federation and we discussed the matter. As regards the Bechuana-land Protectorate, the disease is as great a threat to the Protectorate as it is to us. When the Federation and we held discussions with the Protectorate authorities, it was arranged that we would provide veterinary assistance to the latter. We undertook to provide that assistance along our borders and Rhodesia undertook to provide it along their borders. These arrangements worked perfectly and we set up cordons along our side of the Limpopo. The procedure is that one has to place a 30-mile strip around the danger zone under quarantine. Very good progress was made with combating the disease on the other side, and I had every hope that we would be able to grant relief. I was very anxious to give the Union farmers along the border who have been placed under quarantine the first chance to market their stock before I allowed the marketing of Bechuanaland meat on the Union markets again. Otherwise our farmers might have had reason for complaint if prices were low as a result of the supply of meat from Bechuanaland. Our farmers were placed under these restrictions because they actually constitute the buffer zone for the rest of the Union. I also made it clear to the Protectorate authorities that they should not blame me, but that once the disease was under control in the Protectorate, I was first going to give our own farmers who had been placed under quarantine the opportunity to market their stock before allowing Bechuanaland to do so. They saw the reasonableness of this attitude. The Secretary of my Department, Dr. Vorster, went to Pretoria last week. He went there with a definite instruction from me to confer with the Director of Veterinary Services (field services), the Director of Onderstepoort and other veterinarians and to consult them on how we could make the greatest possible concessions without endangering the Union and how we could gradually relax the control measures until we could remove them completely as soon as possible. I expected him to come back and tell me that they had decided that the first relief measures could be applied towards the end of the month, and I hoped that all control measures could be lifted by the end of the following month, or at the latest by the end of July. But he returned with the news that in the meantime an outbreak had been discovered in Southern Rhodesia. It is near the borders of Bechuanaland, but is in Southern Rhodesia itself, an outbreak which has spread rapidly westwards between the Shashi and Limpopo Rivers, to within 25 miles of the Union’s borders. In other words, this is a new outbreak in that part of Bechuanaland, and Southern Rhodesia which had not suffered from foot and mouth disease at all during the past six months. The Protectorate authorities have notified us that the disease has probably been spread by wild game. One finds large concentrations of game in those areas. In other words, we must now do everything in our power to set up a very strong cordon. In those areas we had already granted relief and we had allowed the stock from certain quarantine areas to be marketed. Allow me just to explain that ten miles from the border there is a red line, then a pink line and then a blue line. We had already allowed stock from the blue line area to be marketed and we were on the point of allowing stock from the pink line area to be marketed, but now there has been this outbreak and we must once again tighten up the position. Steps are now being taken to patrol the border and to confine the disease to the border area. Under the circumstances it is therefore impossible at the present stage for me to tell those areas exactly when I expect to be able to allow them to market their stock freely. No one can reasonably expect me to do so. But the chief administrative officer of Bechuanaland has informed us that foot and mouth disease has broken out to the east of the railway line, but north of the Debeeti line, that is to say, much lower down in Bechuanaland. The outbreak has taken place on one farm, the Notwani Estates. This outbreak was only discovered last week. And I now come to the question of the hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren) relating to the immunization vaccine. There are various vaccines which contain the virus of the various types of foot and mouth disease, but we have never yet had a preventative vaccine. Pirbright, an international foot and mouth disease institute in Pirbright, England, carried out vaccine tests here in the Union of South Africa in co-operation with my Department during last year and the year before. The heads of that institute have developed a vaccine for both S.A.T. 2 and S.A.T. 3 and it is considered that this outbreak may be of the S.A.T. 3 type. They and my officials will help the Bechuanaland authorities to vaccinate 8,000 head of stock immediately. They immediately fenced off the farm and the animals which may come into contact will be treated with the vaccine to prevent the disease spreading. That will be done this week. May I just add that on 12 April 1961, an outbreak was discovered on the farm Dale, within the cordon surrounding the infected area in the vicinity of the confluence of the Palala and Crocodile Rivers. The farm Umlazi, within the cordon surrounding the Rock Ferry-Blackburn infected area, was also found to be infected on 19 April 1961, that is to say, last month. In both cases vaccination was too late to be of any help. In other words, by the time the outbreak was discovered, by the time it was established that cattle were affected, the disease had already spread to such an extent that it was of no avail to vaccinate the cattle in order to immunize them. These four farms were all in the cordoned off area, and the outbreak was therefore not so dangerous—we have a double cordon around those areas. But I now turn to the disappointing case. On the evening of 25 April 1961, it was reported that the farm Kammiesbult No. 573 in the pink area was infected. The other outbreaks had taken place in the red area, but it has now spread to the pink area, that is to say four farms from the nearest infected farm, the fourth farm south-east of the Hardekraaltjie infected area.
On our side?
Yes, it is on our side, in the Waterberg district, and this was last week. This spreading of the disease is attributed to wild game. And while I am referring to wild game, may I just say that as a result of tests which we have undertaken by shooting wild game such as water buck, impala, antelope, etc., it has been definitely established that wild game is endemically infected and is spreading the disease, for example in the Kruger National Park and elsewhere. It has been established that they can spread the disease, and we believe that the spreading of the disease in this case was due to the movement of wild game. But however that may be, we are now faced with this outbreak. My veterinarians now tell me that more farms in the area may become infected because one never knows where the wild game will go next. But every possible step is being taken at once and instructions have been issued that cattle on the surrounding farms should be immunized without delay. We are vaccinating them in order to protect them against the disease. So far we have had practically a 99.9 per cent rate of success. We still do not know what results will be achieved on the veld and perhaps on a larger scale and what percentage of success will be achieved. The fact remains that as a result of this new outbreak the relief which I had intended granting must be postponed for at least a month in the case of the contact farms (the farms outside the cordons) and by at least two months in the case of the infected farms. If there is anyone who sympathizes with these farmers, then it is I. I have been in the same position as they are. The people there know that I also have a cattle farm in that area.
What does the vaccine cost?
We provide the vaccine. When we immunize cattle, we do not require the farmers to pay anything. I cannot say what the vaccine costs the State.
Can it be done on a large scale?
If necessary it is done on a large scale, but it must be remembered that this vaccine has also only been tested on a limited scale in England and that to a large extent our immunization is also still only in the experimental stage. But the results indicate that here at least we have a method of immunization which holds out great promise as a preventative measure, and I hope that it will be possible to use it on a large scale. In conclusion I just want to give our farmers in the stricken areas the assurance that I and my Department do not intend keeping them under restrictions or control for a day longer than the safety of South Africa requires. As soon as we can grant relief, we shall do so. We appreciate their position and we sympathize with them, but nothing can be done about it.
While I am discussing the hardship suffered by farmers, I just want to say for record purposes (the hon. member for Prieska is not here) that all the Departments, including the Department of Agricultural Technical Services and the Department of Water Affairs, have undertaken a proper investigation and proper surveys in respect of the damage caused by the floods. The Government is not yet in a position to announce at this stage what assistance we can grant. We must first have a clear picture of what damage has been caused and what the extent of the damage is. Next week I am meeting a deputation from the Cape Agricultural Union for discussions on, inter alia, this subject and by that stage we shall also have the required information which will enable us to estimate approximately what damage the floods have caused. Then we shall decide what assistance we can give the farmers in these flood-stricken areas. I also just want to express my sympathy for those people who have suffered as a result of this flood disaster. At the same time, on behalf of the farmers and on behalf of the urban dwellers of our country I want to express my gratitude for the fact that we have been able to discuss these Votes under so much more favourable circumstances than last year. We want to express our thanks for the good rains which have fallen. The little damage which has been done cannot be compared with the great benefits which the rains have brought with them.
I want to extend my most sincere congratulations to the hon. member for Bethal-Middelburg (Mr. J. W. Rall) who, as a young member, has made his maiden speech this afternoon. I not only want to congratulate him because he has spoken and because he will further strengthen the ranks of the governing party, but because he has revealed such ability. I want to thank him particularly for the useful and constructive speech which he made this afternoon. I also want to give him and other hon. members also the assurance that the pertinent questions which have been put (I am now thinking of the hon. member for Drakensberg (Mrs. S. M. van Niekerk)) and to which I have not replied, will be answered by letter as was done last year and hon. members will be given the necessary information so that they will know that we have taken note of their speeches.
May I put a question to the hon. the Minister? He said that quarantine would be applied for as short a time as possible. It is 18 years since the last outbreak of East Coast Fever in the Komgha District and the latest outbreak I think must have been six or eight years ago in Natal, but Komgha is still under strict quarantine and under seven-day dipping regulations in the winter and five days in summer. What is the Minister going to do about it?
I don’t think those regulations can be regarded as quarantine regulations. Quarantine regulations have more to do with marketing of stock. But in any case, we shall go into the matter and I can promise the hon. member that if we find that it is only necessary to make them dip every eight days or every ten days, we shall do so.
I may at the same time reply to the hon. member for Parktown’s question as regards the introduction of the Animal Protection Bill. I did not know that the Minister of Justice has undertaken that he will introduce Part I of the Bill and that it would possibly be left to other Ministers to introduce other portions of the Bill. However, I want to promise the hon. member that I am very sympathetic as far as the whole issue is concerned and if, after consultation with the Minister of Justice, I find it is necessary that I should introduce Part III of the Bill, I shall give it sympathetic consideration.
I should like to ask the hon. the Minister what the position is in regard to this new serious outbreak of anthrax in Natal. During the last few days there have been very disquieting reports in regard to a number of deaths as a result of anthrax and one of the greatest dangers in the whole position is that most of the deaths are on Native-owned farms or in Native reserves, and according to the newspaper reports these Natives have refused to allow their cattle to be inoculated for anthrax. I wonder if the hon. the Minister can tell us possibly how serious this outbreak is, what number of cattle are involved and what steps are being taken to enforce inoculation. It has been going on for some days and the Department must be aware and have a report on the whole position, because it seems to me that such a serious outbreak of anthrax, one of the most dangerous diseases, which can affect the whole economy of the farming community, where countries overseas may turn round and say that they will not accept agricultural products from South Africa, must receive immediate and serious attention. As you know, Mr. Chairman, when there is an outbreak of foot and mouth disease other agricultural products that are not processed in some way or canned are refused from an area where foot and mouth disease or anthrax is prevalent.
I now want to come to another matter which I want to raise with the hon. Minister. I asked the Minister on 28 February whether he had appointed a commission of inquiry, or a committee, into A.I. services and into the whole set-up of artificial insemination. He told me at the time that he had appointed a Departmental Commission of Inquiry and that it was not his intention to lay its report upon the Table, or to make it available to any individual or co-operative dispensing A.I. services. I wonder whether the Minister is not at this stage, after having had two months to think about it, prepared to make any statement about the matter. We would very much like to know what part of the report he is going to accept as being his policy towards A.I. services in South Africa. Artificial insemination, Mr. Chairman, is of the greatest importance to our livestock industry in this country and especially to dairy farmers. All those in this country who are interested in dairying are very anxious to know what information the hon. Minister is going to release and I, therefore, do hope that he will see his way clear, if not now then some time in future, to make some statement about the matter, because the financial setup of A.I. co-operatives is in an unsound position. Great difficulties are being experienced. The Minister has assisted us with technical services and with subsidies but there is a limit as to the period for which subsidies can be given to the co-operatives. It is very difficult for an A.I. co-operative to plan ahead when it does not know whether it can go ahead with the veterinarians it employs or what the financial implications will be. I am sure that the hon. Minister will give us some assurance in regard to financial help and it will help if he will inform all those providing A.I. services of the position so that they can plan ahead.
On the last occasion I spoke in this debate I was asking the Minister about protection against soil erosion of our watersheds, when the time for my speech expired. However, I think I went as far as I could under this heading and what I still have to say about watersheds will be more appropriate under the Minister’s next Vote—Water Affairs, but these two matters dovetail in so much that it is difficult to see where soil conservation ends and water conservation starts, so that when we come to the Water Affairs Vote, I hope, Mr. Chairman, that you would allow us some lattitude.
The next point I want to deal with, is the question of farm labour. In this connection I want to express the hope that this Minister is going to do all in his power to see that farm labour is not going to be interfered with in any way. I realize that, when discussing Bantu farm labour as opposed to Coloured farm labour, there are two Departments interested in the matter. Our difficulties with farm labour are getting greater every year. The cost of production is rising and we have been appealed to by the Government to pay more for our labour. Since we cannot add the cost of labour to the price set down by commerce and industries, I think we should have the assurance that there will be as little interference as possible with our farm labour. I have found in parts of the Cape Province that farmers are lucky enough to have Coloured labourers living with their families on the farms. Consequently, these labourers are happy to stay on the farm and they do not want to wander. That is a much better position than that of migrant labour except where this labour is required for seasonal use, as for reaping, etc. It is my experience that where a labourer lives with his family on the farm, he renders better services. In return they are looked after and it is being seen to that they get a square deal. I appeal to the Minister to endeavour at Cabinet level, to ensure for the farmers a stablized labour force where the labourer would be able to have a family life on the farm.
I think the hon. the Minister knows in what critical position the wattle-growers of Natal find themselves, particularly those farmers who are mainly dependent on wattle production for their income. For a long time those farmers have pinned their hopes on planting the Phormium Tenax because that type thrives exceedingly well in that mist belt. I do not know whether I misunderstood the hon. the Minister but I gathered from his speech that it will mainly be the Bantu areas that will be allowed to plant Phormium Tenax. I just want to point out that areas such as Malmoth, Kataza. New Hanover, Wartberg and others, where there is very little frost, are eminently suitable for the planting of sugar cane. As the Minister knows, however, under the quota system no further land can be made available for sugar production. The only thing left to the farmers is to plant Phormium Tenax. That is the only outlet left to them if they want to save themselves from absolute ruination. I shall be pleased if the Minister would tell us whether for this plant in those areas where it thrives. White farmers would also be allowed to go in If they are not allowed to do so I really do not know what is to become of them, because they cannot make a living on wattle production alone. Under the quota system no further land can be made available in the near future for the growing of sugar cane, and the only alternative cultivation is Phormium Tenax.
What do you do with that?
I can devote the rest of the evening to telling the hon. member what can be done with that. I can, however, give him this pleasant news that the Wool Board has decided that wool packs could be produced from Phormium Tenax. Originally they had certain misgivings because the ravels that got into the wool could not be woven into the material as in the case of jute, for example. It seems however that in New Zealand they have evolved a process whereby the woven material is oiled and held over a flame which burns the ravels away; the material is then passed through rollers which presses the threads so closely together that the material becomes practically dust proof. The Wool Board have now decided that they will use wool packs made of Phormium Tenax. There is a wonderful future for that fabric in this country. The White farmers in those areas are pinning their hopes mainly on the cultivation of this plant. That is why I want to ask the hon. the Minister to allow the cultivation of this plant in the wattle-growing areas, particularly in Natal where there is no frost or very little frost and that plants are made available to those farmers, so that they can start cultivating it.
I think every one of us listened with interest to what the hon. the Minister of Agricultural Technical Services has just told us. At the same time, however, I cannot help being sorry that he could not give reassuring replies to certain pertinent questions that have been asked concerning the problems of the farmers. Apparently the farmers of South Africa will have to wait for the next session of Parliament when this Vote comes up for discussion again, and they will again have to wait for the various agricultural unions to have their congresses this or next year in order to lay their problems before them. There is the question of more information officers for example. What does the Minister intend doing in order to provide the farmers with more veterinary surgeons? The hon. the Minister has not given any reassuring replies to those questions. We are grateful to him for what he has said in respect of mouth and foot disease. I think that was the only reply which he gave that was of any value.
But, Mr. Chairman, I think the hon. the Minister said something which calls for closer investigation. As regards the pineapple farmers he said it might be possible in the near future to weave material from pineapple fibre from which even suits could be made. We all know what difficult times the pineapple farmers have experienced and are still experiencing. Nobody in this House knows that better than the hon. member for Albany (Mr. Bowker). I think every one of us want those people to have a future. Consequently I want to ask the hon. the Minister this: Is the intention to use this fibre which they expect to produce from the pineapple plant merely for the manufacture of bags or will it also be used for clothing in future, in which case it will come into competition with one of the main products of South Africa, namely wool? We know the Wool Board and the International Wool Secretariat are doing everything in their power to advertise wool and woollen goods throughout the world. I think this Government is well disposed towards the wool farmers. Mr. Chairman, before the production of clothing material from pineapple fibre is embarked upon, we should like to know whether in time to come that product will not perhaps compete against wool.
You are looking for a scorpion under every stone.
I think the hon. the Minister owes us a reply to that. Seeing that the hon. member for Rustenburg (Mr. Bootha) has now also made a contribution to the debate I want to draw his attention to the fact that he said this afternoon and this evening that this side of the House, particularly I, had overstepped the mark and that I had dragged politics into agriculture. He levelled the accusation against me that I was not really a good Member of Parliament, because when I returned to my constituency I did not call the farmers together and tell them what a good Minister and what a good Department of Agriculture they had and what they were doing for the farmers. I just want to tell that hon. member that I do not represent a farmers’ constituency. I represent an urban constituency. But the hon. member for Rustenburg is a farmer and he represents a farmers’ constituency. I want to ask him whether he does that when he returns to his constituency after a parliamentary session? Do any of the hon. members opposite who represent farmers’ constituencies do that when they return to their constituencies?
Of course they do not. If they have to give guidance to the farmers I do not think they will have time to carry out their parliamentary duties.
You don’t know what you are talking about.
The hon. member says I do not know what I am talking about. I should like to know what the hon. member for Rustenburg talked about when he levelled that accusation at me. I want to say something else to the hon. member namely that if he tells me that I should tell the farmers in my area when I return, everything that was being done for them, and if the hon. member has given me and every Member of Parliament that wonderful suggestion, why did his own Minister not take any notice of it?
There are a few other matters that I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) has already referred to one of them. The hon. member for Gardens (Mr. Connan) has also mentioned it and that is the question of farm labour. The hon. the Minister told us that some time or other—within the near future—he will establish a mechanics division in his Department. He said that the Cabinet had already approved of this. The fact of the matter is that to-day there are hundreds of thousands of non-Whites in the agricultural industry who have no training whatsoever to do mechanical work and that is why we on this side of the House think it is absolutely essential that they should receive some kind of training.
The farmers teach them.
The hon. member says the farmer teaches the labourer. We are not the only people who ask for this; the hon. the Minister of Finance has also asked for it. Again I want to quote what he said last year in his speech at Bienne Donne—
Here I have an article written by Mr. O. E. Burger which appeared in Farming in South Africa, under the heading “Labour Force must be kept productively busy at all times”. What does he say in this article—
Then he referred to an investigation that had been undertaken in 1956 by the Division of Economics and Marketing according to which it was found that in the case of tractors driven by untrained non-Whites the wear and tear was 15 per cent higher than in the case of tractors driven by untrained Whites. That represents a loss of over R4,000,000. This gentleman says that taking everything into consideration, all types of implements, all types of tractors, the wear and tear that take place annually as a result of the fact that untrained people drive and handle those articles, amount to approximately R10,000,000.
Mr. Chairman, I cannot reconcile myself to this habit of always emphasizing the fact that the farmers are having such a hard time and of blaming the Government for it. I think the time has arrived for us to count our blessings. Many hon. members opposite have offered criticism this evening as well as this afternoon. A great deal of that criticism is not justified. Reference has been made to the inadequacy of the research that was being undertaken, reference has been made to the inadequacy of our veterinary services. The hon. member for Hillbrow (Dr. Steenkamp), however, expressed appreciation of the work that the veterinary surgeons were doing in Natal. They also complained and said that improved production methods should be devised. At the same time they complain about surpluses. There have been complaints about the lack of guidance. At the same time there is such progress in the country that we are faced with an over-production of agricultural products. The hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren) complained about stock theft and I listened in vain for a word of appreciation of what was done in order to find a better vaccine to combat blue tongue, better vaccine to combat pulpy kidney and medicines to combat the internal parasites which attack our stock.
That is why we are pleased that the Minister has the opportunity to-day, when his Vote is under discussion, of telling us to what extent agriculture is able to meet the needs of the country and to what extent it is able to promote the general economic development of our country.
It is pleasing to note that, in spite of the fact that in certain areas of the country agriculture has only been practised for 60 years, there has been such a phenomenal growth that in the case of most agricultural products, the production is in excess of the local demand. Here I have in mind our wool clip. South Africa produces a wool clip of which we can all justifiably be proud. Not only has it increased as far as quantity is concerned, but also as far as quality is concerned. That indicates improved breeding methods, better care and management of our valuable herds. During the past year the wool industry has also provided the country with valuable foreign exchange. I have in mind our citrus and deciduous fruit industry which has developed from a very humble beginning into an important branch of our agriculture and which has gained an important place for itself in our export trade. I have in mind our meat industry in this country, an industry which in spite of the misgivings which existed as to the marketing of meat, meets our local demands and which looks very promising as far as the export market is concerned. Then we have the maize industry where they have overproduction and where economic price levels have to be maintained by means of a stabilization fund and subsidies. However, Mr. Chairman, the fact that we have to maintain the price level does not worry us. We would rather have an over-production of this basic food than a shortage.
Why do we have surpluses in this country? How was it possible to double our maize production in this country over the past years? How is it possible to have a surplus of dairy products, to establish an export market for deciduous fruit and to improve and to increase the quality and size of our wool clip? That has been due to the application of scientific farming methods on a country-wide basis during the past years under the guidance of the Department of Agricultural Technical Services.
The application of scientific farming methods has to a great extent been made possible by the judicious application of the Marketing and the Soil Conservation Act. The Marketing Act has ensured the necessary economic stability to the farming industry and the Soil Conservation Act has provided the necessary financial assistance in order to make improved technical services available to the farmer. That has created the necessary confidence in the farming community and that has led to the development in the farming industry, an industry which is not only admired in this country but which is admired in the whole world. Mr. Chairman, if we continue in this way farming will adapt itself, the farming industry will once again become the backbone of our country’s economy and it will stop the flow from the platteland to the cities, and we shall again have reason to be proud of our farming community in South Africa.
I think it is just as well that I should reply at this stage to the few further points which have been raised here. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) raised a very important matter here when he asked me to use my influence with the Government to ensure that there is no meddling with farm labour. I just want to give the hon. member the assurance that the Government has not the slightest intention of meddling with farm labour or farm labourers. Because looking at our country and our entire population, I want to make this statement here this evening: I do not believe that there is one section of the non-White population, whether Bantu or Coloured, which is happier than those living on the farms. I believe that they are contented people; I believe that they are being well treated, because otherwise they would not remain on the farms; they would move to the cities. I also believe that it is in the interest not only of agriculture, but also in the interest of those particular groups of people, not only in the reserves but also in the White areas, that we should encourage them to become attached to the land. Not only will it give them greater stability and strength of character, but they will be able to make a contribution to the building up of a separate national sentiment and national pride in various spheres of life and, like the White farmer, they will be able to introduce that sentiment and pride into their own national and racial life. I work with people who have been living on the same farm for years, in fact for generations. What is our experience? We find that a member of the younger generation grows up on the farm and then, under certain influences or when he has had a little education, he begins to think that he can do much better somewhere else. Our experience is that he moves into town; within a year he comes back and says that he cannot endure town life, and that he prefers to come back to the farm. After all, there is no compulsory farm labour in South Africa. It is voluntary residence and voluntary labour. While I am on this point, I also want to reply to the point raised here by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher). He talked about the need for better skilled and trained farm labour, and he referred in particular to the non-Whites. Well, the training of the Bantu is the responsibility of the Department of Bantu Education. The responsibility for the training of the Coloured, for whatever work it may be, and even farm labour, will henceforth be the responsibility of the Provincial Administration of the Cape and/or the Department of Coloured Affairs. The Department of Agricultural Technical Services is not responsible for the training of non-White farm labour and/or non-White farmers, except that the Department also makes available to non-Whites, through the various Departments, the technical aid and knowledge that the Department has at its disposal and that it makes available to White farmers. That is the set-up and the organization.
The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) also asked a question in respect of the Van der Wath Report about artificial insemination. That report is in my hands. It is not intended for publication. The report has far-reaching implications and I have consequently referred it to the various interests concerned to make a study of it, to put forward criticism, if they wish to do so, or to give advice and make suggestions. When I have received their comments, I propose to submit this matter to the Cabinet. At this stage I am not prepared to tell the hon. member which details I am going to submit to the Cabinet.
Furthermore, with regard to the objections and the misgiving of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) that pineapple fibre may become a threat to our wool industry, I just want to say that he need not have any fears in that regard. In the first instance pineapple fibre is a very strong, good and serviceable fibre. If it is going to be used for clothing, it will definitely be to meet the needs of those clients who are prepared to wear a new type of fabric. The demand will be small. It is really going to be used for coarser fabrics which are much finer, however, than bags, wool packs and grain bags, for example. I am thinking of curtaining material, chair covers, settee covers, mats and things of that kind. It is a very attractive fibre and in any event a fibre the inherent value of which is so great that it ought not to be used for bags. I think it would also be too expensive.
At 10.25 p.m. the Chairman stated that, in accordance with Standing Order No. 26 (1), he would report progress and ask leave to sit again.
Progress reported and leave asked to sit again.
The House adjourned at