Commercial farmers find it heart-breaking to see unused land. That is why they help emerging farmers, said Milan Thalwitzer of the Bosveld Group.
At the media launch of this years’ Nation in Conversation series at the Nampo harvest day, Thalwitzer said in his district alone he is aware of 40 farms which need help.
The Bosveld Group established a worker’s trust where participants paid off their debt two years ago.
“Everything is profit driven. All participants and shareholders are satisfied.”
Thalwitzer said the group rents land from the community, which is beneficial to both parties. He also advises anyone involved in transformation projects to have no hidden agendas.
Thalwitzer said projects like theirs offer a wonderful opportunity to teach people how a board of directors works and how to understand a balance sheet.
The Bosveld Group started a 50-50-model two years ago. Thalwitzer said this is complicated and there is much work which needs to be done, especially relating to ownership and title deeds.
Roelf Meyer, director of the “In Transformation Initiative” and Mike Mlengana, director general of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said land is only worth something if it has commercial value.
“The lack of title deeds is a serious issue for black commercial farmers. It is really heart-breaking,” said Mlengana.
“One cannot invest in a farm that does not belong to you.” According to him, cabinet is under pressure to address the issue.
In Rwanda all land – according to TP Nchocho, Chief Executive Office at the Land Bank – is measured. For every square meter, a title deed is issued. This led to an increase in capital flow into the country.
Mlengana said it is heart-breaking that many emerging farmers still fail. “We need to establish criteria to choose farmers and land.”
Mlengana is also an advocate of partnerships. “I want the attention to move from individuals to business.”
Nchocho said where farms failed, they must be rebuilt. However, this must be done through the private sector, rather than government, he said.
Thalwitzer believes the type of dialogue promoted through Nation in Conversation, should be taken further on local and district level. That way farmers and businessmen can get to know each other better.
Nchocho said land can be a uniting factor. “We have strong institutions such as the Land Bank, cooperations and agribusinesses. If each of us do more and provide leadership, agriculture can be built from the ground up and become more productive.”