Land reform is doomed without business savvy – report

The present narrow focus on land reform only, instead of farming as a business, is counter-productive and is the root cause of failures and the lack of sustainability within the emerging sector…
Issue Date: 9 March 2007

The present narrow focus on land reform only, instead of farming as a business, is counter-productive and is the root cause of failures and the lack of sustainability within the emerging sector.

This is the key finding of a report commissioned by a group of prominent Afrikaner businessmen and academics into the practical approaches to support sustainable land reform and at the behest of President Mbeki. he report, entitled The Renosterrivier Private Sector Initiative: A private sector proposal for sustainable agribusiness initiatives in the Renosterrivier area, was recently presented to Mbeki. It contains proposed models and practical solutions that the researchers say will support land reform and in the agribusiness sector. ccording to the report, problems with land reform include poor underlying profitability in the agricultural sector; lack of farming background and experience on the part of emerging farmers; lack of finance and the reluctance of the financial sector to implement appropriate products; inefficient scales of operation; and lack of price information and market access.

 “Mentorship must be structured on a business basis where the mentor shares in both the success and failure of the project. Government should focus on creating sustainable businesses rather than transferring land,” the report notes. “It must externalise the cost of land purchase for new entrants, in which the state must purchase land and lease it to suitable candidates, with transfer only taking place based on demonstrated commitment and the achievement of certain milestones.” he Renosterrivier project in the northern Free State was launched in May last year and aims to implement a land reform model that is primarily designed and managed by the private sector with strongly developed government systems. – Fidelis Zvomuya