When the wind blows

When the August/September winds blow in the lowlands of Lesotho, they contribute to the massive tonnage of soil lost every year through wind and water erosion.
Issue date : 04 July 2008

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When the August/September winds blow in the lowlands of Lesotho, they contribute to the massive tonnage of soil lost every year through wind and water erosion. An estimated 40 million tons of Lesotho’s fragile soil is lost annually in this way. This is in a country of 30 355km2, which only has 12% of arable land of which 40% is left fallow.

This photograph, taken in September 2007, shows the enormous dust clouds experienced during the same period in the Free State. After many attempts at developing wind and water soil erosion prevention techniques, conservation agriculture (CA) was identified as having the most promise. Not only does it retain moisture in the soil, it also richly enhances it. Now, international organisations such as the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, as well as missionary groups, have launched programmes to promote CA together with the government of Lesotho. Their efforts will be featured in future articles of Farmer’s Weekly. – Peter Hittersay

Parole violator slays farmer

he Overberg District’s Agricultural Association (ODAA) has called for a revision of the justice system following the murder of Dirk Gildenhuys on his farm Witklip outside Swellendam in the southern Cape. he murder was committed after the suspect was released on early parole. It’s believed he acted in revenge as his parents had been dismissed from the farm.

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The suspect handed himself over to the police two hours after the incident, following a police and farm-watch chase. Millie van As, one of Gildenhuys’s neighbours, said it doesn’t pay to commit a crime in the area as the people are very alert and criminals will get caught. B ut Orton King, CEO of the ODAA, said it doesn’t help to have an effective farm watch and land safety strategy if the justice system does not work effectively. “It happens too often that people who are supposed to be in jail are set free and then get involved in crime again,” said King.

“The justice system and its application, and more specifically parole conditions, need to be revised to ensure the safety of communities.” e added that the Overberg community would take alternative action if government structures failed to protect its citizens. “Within government’s legal framework we create the necessary crime prevention support structures to protect our community. We will not allow criminals to rule our community.” King said that Gildenhuys would be sorely missed in the Swellendam community. Gildenhuys’s wife, who survived being stabbed in the stomach, has been released from hospital. – Glenneis Erasmus

The real delay in restitution

More than 22 000 of the land claims lodged with the land claims commission have still not been gazetted and only 3 789 of the 21 497 land reform claims had been published in the Government Gazette by May this year. T his emerged in the response to a parliamentary question posed by Pieter Groenewald of the Freedom Font Plus (FF+), to land and agriculture minister Lulama Xingwana about her department’s progress with restitution and land reform. “When it suits the minister she enthusiastically accuses farmers of opposing land reform and delaying the process,” said Groenewald.

 “She also argues that the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle hampers the process. It’s very clear that all these accusations are far off the mark and she and her department are in actual fact responsible for the delays.” H e said that the worst problems with land restitution claims have occurred in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Statistics supplied by the minister show that only 8 211 of the 14 110 claims in KwaZulu-Natal have been published in the Government Gazette, while only 7 836 of the 17 814 claims in the Eastern Cape have been published. The biggest problem with claims in terms of the Land Reform Act is being experienced in Mpumalanga. Only 244 of the 9 618 claims in that province have been published so far. – Annelie Coleman

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Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.