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Govt to offer 500,000+ hectares of remaining state-owned farm land for lease

1 October 2020 7:34 PM
Tags:
Farming
Farmers
Agriculture
The Money Show
Bruce Whitfield
Land reform
Land redistribution
state-owned land
vacant land
Prof. Johann Kirsten
historic racial inequality

Land equating to 896 farms will become available in the next two weeks. But is this really land reform, asks Bruce Whitfield.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in February that government-owned land would be released to the public for farming purposes.

Since then, close to 20% (135,117 hectares) of the around 700,000 hectares allocated has been released to 275 farmers.

On Thursday, Minister Thoko Didiza (Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development) announced that the remaining land, equating to about 896 farms, will become available in the next two weeks.

Agriculture, wheat field. Image: Kai Pilger on Pixabay 

The government is offering a 30-year leasehold, with an option to buy.

Beneficiaries will undergo compulsory training which includes farming and financial management.

But this will involve a lot of capital, so is it really land reform? asks Bruce Whitfield on The Money Show.

He gets input from agricultural economics professor, Johann Kirsten (Director of the Bureau for Economic Research at Stellenbosch University).

This is a very important move, since the government has been acquiring a large number of farms over the years... This is very encouraging that they have started the process of dealing with land hunger by distributing the land the government already owns.

Prof. Johann Kirsten, Director - Bureau for Economic Research at SU

One caution - the leasehold is always problematic because it does not really provide access to the financial system for farmers... but if it is managed correctly, with a state development fund attached to it and a substantive support system, it can probably work.

Prof. Johann Kirsten, Director - Bureau for Economic Research at SU

But I would probably think that a shorter lease or a renewal period after three to four years where the option to buy actually kicks in and you get a draw down of the purchase sum of the lease money that you've paid [would be better].

Prof. Johann Kirsten, Director - Bureau for Economic Research at SU

Professor Kirsten also raises concerns around the "worrisome" bureaucratic processes outlined in the minister's statement.

Listen to this important discussion in the audio below:


This article first appeared on 702 : Govt to offer 500,000+ hectares of remaining state-owned farm land for lease


1 October 2020 7:34 PM
Tags:
Farming
Farmers
Agriculture
The Money Show
Bruce Whitfield
Land reform
Land redistribution
state-owned land
vacant land
Prof. Johann Kirsten
historic racial inequality

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