Good food security governance extension workers in KZN : a public administration perspective.
Mohamed Sayeed, Cheryl Natasha.
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This study responds to the question, “To what extent are the aims of the food security amongst Extension Workers within KwaZulu Natal being achieved within a good governance agenda?”. The main objective has been to firstly, understand the link between good governance, professionalism, service delivery and food security. Secondly, the objective is to review the existing food security policy and priorities for responding to the challenges of the National Development Plan and Millennium Development Goals. Thirdly, the objective is to contribute to new policy relevant knowledge on the potential impact of good governance, professionalism and service delivery on the achievement of food security in the Province. The empirical study was completed by way of a survey undertaken amongst the Extension Workers and their District Managers employed in the South Region of the KwaZulu Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (KZN DAEA). Two data collection methods were used. Firstly, a self-administered questionnaire was used to determine the extent to which good food security governance was being achieved amongst Extension Workers. Secondly, interviews with the District Managers in the South Region and the Provincial General Manager: Strategic Support Services, were conducted to solicit information on strategies in place to ensure good food security governance compliance by Extension Workers. The concept of good governance is used as the basis of the assessment and endorses the World Bank Framework for good governance as a lens for assessing the successes and failures of good food security governance in South Africa. The empirical study revealed that regular reporting and accounting is the practice within the KZN DAEA, and is managed through a system of verbal and written reports. The problem arises out of the disjuncture between the legislative guidelines, the policy frameworks, the strategic frameworks, against the abilities of the Extension Workers to work within the ambit of these guidelines. This disjuncture amongst Extension Workers comes largely out of their lack of understanding of the contents of such policies. As a result, the study found that this creates a disability amongst Extension Workers as implementers of food security related strategies. The empirical study thus revealed that despite clear targets being set and regular accounting being the practice of the KZN DAEA, the focus is on compliance rather than on stimulating real development. As a result, the essence of “extension” is lost. The study makes a number of recommendations. Firstly, the finalisation of the proposed Food Security Policy currently under discussion is seen as a priority. Secondly, the adoption of a brief induction programme, or policy awareness workshops, by the KZN DAEA, as part of their training programmes, is seen as essential to translate the key areas of the legislative mandates to Extension Workers. The incorporation of accountability and transparency mechanisms into all the activities of the functioning of Extension workers is the third recommendation. Fourth, the mainstreaming of monitoring and evaluation is seen as a crucial component for overall successful policy implementation. This, the study argues has the potential to improve the levels of professionalism displayed by Extension Workers. Fifth, it is recommended that Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) offering Agriculture Extension network with each other and government bodies to offer programmes and courses that are more appropriate for the implementation of public policies. Recommendation six and seven call for the adoption of a broader more systemic and holistic view of poverty and food insecurity as the attainment of food security can no longer be viewed as an exclusive agricultural issue. Eighth, it is recommended that an Extension Framework be adopted to revert to the tradition behind Extension methodologies. Last, it is recommended that Extension Workers be registered to a professional body in order to enhance the dissemination of the key values, roles and responsibilities of the Extension Worker. In conclusion, this study has shown that government needs to benchmark the advantages and disadvantages of institutional arrangements for good food security governance. Furthermore, whilst no one measure can be seen as the solution to the problems, it offers an opportunity to move in the direction of poverty reduction and food security. This study contributes to the body of knowledge in public administration and the food security discourse.
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