Call for a fresh approach to assisting emerging farmers

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A new approach to land restitution and emerging farmer support is needed in South Africa.

Call for a fresh approach to assisting emerging farmers

This is according to former police minister and current head of the In Transformation Initiative, Roelf Meyer.

Speaking at the Nation in Conversation discussion held at Nampo Harvest Day near Bothaville in the Free State, Meyer said there was no reason why South Africans who lived in shacks could not be given title deeds for the space they lived on.

“We need to give value to those who never had value. If we empower South Africans, there’ll be opportunities that flow from it,” Meyer said.

Johannes Möller, president of Agri SA, said that the current pattern of land ownership had been the result of political interference rather than market forces.

Agri SA wanted to move land reform away from the ideological sphere to the economic sphere, so that farmers could take part in land reform voluntarily and not be forced to by law.

“Agri SA has investigated financing land reform so [white] farmers can benefit from it. Land reform can become an opportunity. In a lot of people’s minds, land reform is simply transferring land from white to black. Why can a successful black farmer not buy land from others and so transform the land?” Moller said.

According to TP Nchocho, CEO of Land Bank, agricultural specialists were needed to bring fallow land back to production after failed restitution projects. Simply refinancing these projects was not the answer.

“One needs to plan and develop and identify which portion of land must be used for which crops or livestock. A plan needs to be developed for a certain land parcel. Then one needs to finance the farm according to the returns it can bring, and not more,” Nchocho said.

Phile van Zyl, ZZ2 director, said that during the early part of Afrikaner emancipation much attention had been given to cooperatives and cooperative functioning, and that this model needed to  be investigated again.