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Thursday Mar 03, 2016

State land plans 'set to fail'

Ambitious plans by the government to acquire 1.14 million hectares of land and create 1 107 productive and profitable farms is a "political agenda" that will amount to naught.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform's ambitious recapitalisation and development programme has set aside R4.6 billion over the medium term to achieve this.

The programme, which started in the 2008/09 financial year, was responsible for making redistributed land productive and profitable by providing "mechanised irrigation, farmer mentorship and farm inputs", according to Budget documents.

To date, just over 4.5 million hectares of land have been acquired for redistribution and 1 496 farms created.

However, the Transvaal Agricultural Union of SA general secretary, Bennie van Zyl, poked holes in the department's plans, saying they were not viable as almost 90% of all redistributed agricultural land "goes out of production".

This posed a threat to the country's food security. "We should realise that 68% of our population of 53 million is urbanised. They need food produced by commercial farmers. If the 1.14 million hectares are acquired and the 1 107 farms created in the medium term, over 700 jobs would be created. "They cannot do it. They will not have the success. It will be failures all around, you can mark my words," said Van Zyl, adding the programme's beneficiaries should be screened more carefully.

Pretoria News


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