a reply to: rowanflame
Many farms redistributed in terms of South Africa’s land-reform programme are failing and falling into ruin because the beneficiaries have little or
no interest in agriculture, says the Democratic Alliance.
“Eighty percent of the people [given farms] just wanted land,” DA rural development and land-reform spokesperson Annette Steyn told a media
briefing at Parliament on Tuesday.
She was speaking at the launch of a DA “Land Reform in Crisis” report, which highlights the findings of visits by MPs to a number of farms that
were redistributed in terms of government’s Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) programme.
Oversight visits were made to 11 farms in Limpopo, five in the Free State, and two each in the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.
“Of the farms we visited, most went wrong ... there was no farming activity,” Steyn said.
The report paints a dire picture of resettled farms in Limpopo, where, to date, a total of 195 farms have been “restituted” in terms of the LRAD
“The farms visited by the DA were, before transfer ... financially and agriculturally productive. Five years after transfer, the picture is very
different, and some are in dire condition.
“Houses have been left to rot due to lack of maintenance and criminals steal copper pipes, electricity transformers and farming equipment,” it
The briefing included a display of photos taken during the visits, showing dilapidated farm infrastructure, falling-down buildings and neglected fruit
orchards, among others.
Steyn pinned the blame for the situation on the government, saying it had failed to apply proper selection criteria when it came to awarding the
“Basically… there were no criteria,” she said.
Exacerbating the problem was that on those farms where new farmers did want to work the land, the government was failing to support them.
“At none of the farms visited was there evidence of constructive, significant assistance from the state. As a result, many of the farms are on the
verge of collapse.”
An example was a crop, fruit and dairy farm in Mpumalanga, which the government had bought for 248 beneficiaries in 2002, at a cost of
“No post-settlement support [has been] received from the Department of Land Affairs. The farm is not doing well as it needs a cash injection, and
they do not have [a] loan facility. They are also struggling with maintenance and equipment.”
According to the report, a total of 2 864 farms have been redistributed for agricultural purposes nationally.
“Of those reviewed, 29% have failed, and productivity at a further 22% is declining. Should those in the latter category also fail, more than half
of farms redistributed by government will have failed.”
The report contains recommendations, including that people with a “background of farming or a love of farming” be given preference when it comes
to agricultural land reform.
Further, the government should purchase farms suitable for the type of activity the beneficiary wanted to undertake. It suggests starting on a small
scale and not forcing programmes on new farmers.
It also suggests fostering ties with existing farmers in organised agriculture.
“White farmers cannot be seen as ‘the enemy’ and must be made partners in this whole process,” it states.
Of the 276 000 farming units in Gauteng, including large-scale and small intensive farming units, 70% lie unused as farms - most standing idle or
being used as scrapyards and second-hand car dealerships.
Emerging farmers are among the most squeezed, with hundreds quitting, and claiming that the government has "abandoned" them, with no skills and little
access to markets.
The revelations come at a time when Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti has published controversial proposals requiring
commercial farmers to hand over half their land to farmworkers.
Agri-Gauteng CEO Derrick Hanekom said Gauteng was in big trouble with abandoned land.
"Land carryover from old to new owners was done haphazardly... land was given to communities who are not farmers and who, because of a lack of skills,
are unable to farm."We signed the Rural Social Compact Plan [with the Gauteng agriculture and rural development department] to stem the problem and
uplift Gauteng's huge peri-urban area, the third-biggest in the country.
"We are desperately trying to organise agriculture, with a big focus on micro-farmers who, if properly assisted, can produce large yields.
"The government doesn't have the skills to do capacity development in the farming sector."
President of the African Farmers Association of SA Mike Mlengana slammed the government.
"Farms were and are viewed as weekend party destinations. The consequence is that farms that have the potential to produce vitally needed food are
"The prevalence of abandonment is unbelievable, with some areas recording 100% abandonment.
"We have farms that were highly active but have been stripped bare and are now useless," Mlengana said.
A lack of money was one of the reasons emerging farmers walked off their land, he said.
"Many don't have money to farm or buy feed, seeds, fertilisers or water. In KwaZulu-Natal, farmers rely on neighbours to supply them with water
because they can't afford boreholes or dams. Farms were meant to come with capitalisation and support, but didn't.
"Primary agriculture is capital-dependent . the consequence of non-capitalisation is destruction."
For Mlengana, the government's poor farmer selection criteria set emerging farmers up for failure.
"There were no proper checks and balances to see who really had farming knowledge.
"Many people lied when applying for farms, renting sheep for when inspectors came to see if they had livestock.
"The result was many farms were given to people who had no knowledge of farming."
Mlengana said many emerging farmers were sabotaged through the provision of often dilapidated and outdated equipment that was too expensive to
"They weren't provided with sheds or silos to store produce or helped with the selling of produce.
"At a national level the government is interested, but regionally there is no capacity to implement policies.
"The consequence of the destruction of South Africa's farms is a direct threat to food security."
Professor Johan Willemse of the University of the Free State agricultural economics department said the government's agricultural policies needed
"They are plunging the country's rural towns into a death spiral with farms collapsing.
"There are no proper support structures. If there's a drought there is no assistance."
He said the implication of farm expansion and mechanisation was the collapse of rural towns, whose residents were heavily reliant on farms for
"While most countries are making farms more productive to feed their cities, this is not even a debate here.
"To survive we must rethink our agricultural policies. It is not about black or white, it is about feeding 50million people."
Boeta du Toit, Agri-North West's CEO, said that since 2000, the number of farmers in the province had decreased from 65000 to 34000.
"Though production has increased through better technology on larger farms, those who leave don't do so out of free will. When they go they go for
"Recent droughts have been incredibly difficult on farmers unable to repay debts.
edit on 2015 2 16 by Imfrosty because: More info