Land policy hurting mango atchar business

There is still no indication from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform or minister Gugile Nkwinti about when the four-tiered land tenure system put forward by the Green Paper on Land Reform will be implemented, or even if it will be implemented.

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But, according to Agri SA, if the mango atchar business is anything to go by, suggestions in the Green Paper that a ceiling must be placed on private landownership and that foreign landownership should be regulated is already scaring off foreign investors. Speaking to journalists before tabling his budget vote in parliament recently, Nkwinti reiterated the proposal that foreign landownership should be regulated, adding that foreigners own a “sizeable chunk” of SA land.

“We want foreign investment in our country, but we also have to deal with the question that says how we share the land amon the growing population,” said Nkwinti. Responding to the minister’s statements, Theo de Jager, Agri SA’s vice-president and chairperson of the organisation’s transformation committee, told Farmer’s Weekly these policies will discourage foreign investment in the agriculture sector.

“We have seen a major outflow of investment in agriculture in the last few years because of the way land reform has been implemented, and if the suggestions made in the Green Paper about foreign landownership are not dealt with cautiously, we might lose even more foreign investment,” he said.

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“We have lost out on a number of investment opportunities that have all gone to Mozambique instead, especially in the mango processing business,” he added. “Less than a decade ago, South Africa had 22 mango processing factories to produce products such as mango juice and atchar.

“At the time there were no mango processing factories in Mozambique. Now South Africa has only eight of these factories left and eight new mango processing facilities have been opened in Mozambique, all of them financed by foreign investors, even though they have to import the mangoes from South Africa,” explained De Jager.