Agri SA’s Christo van der Rheede says money for land reform is far too little to properly assist new farmers.
“You won’t go very far with R2 000,” said Van der Rheede, deputy director of the organisation. He was speaking at the annual AVI Africa Poultry Conference.
Van der Rheede, who recently attended a meeting with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said goals were set to develop 400 000 small-scale farmers with a budget of merely R800 million.
This comes down to between R900 and R2 000 per farmer and with the money government plans to provide among other things compost, seed and equipment to farmers.
“We need a consolidated effort,” Van der Rheede said with reference to the fragmented approach from government departments involved.
A new group of farmers
He also criticised models where groups of farmers are involved, saying there is often a lack of leadership, while many internal disagreements take place. He said where attention is placed on individuals – who are equipped with the necessary skills and who are prepared to make their own financial contribution – success is achieved.
Van der Rheede said government wants the failure of its land reform programme to be attributed to the principle of willing seller and willing buyer, but annually 4% to 6% of farms are on the market.
20 000 farms are for sale, showing there are willing sellers. But he believes everything can’t be left to government, and said the private sector can make a huge contribution.
According to research by Agri SA, the private sector is already involved in the development of 40 000 black commercial farmers, and Van der Rheede said this programme should be expanded even further.
Countries where success is achieved
In countries like Japan, Korea and Taiwan, where land reform was successful, individual ownership was used for beneficiaries.
In contrast, communal rights were used in some Latin American countries where land reform failed. In these countries, there was also no proper technical, agricultural support for beneficiaries. Van der Rheede said two-thirds of money should go towards support like that.
Van der Rheede also said South Africa is making the same mistakes as before 1994: “We trust race based policy direction when appointing technical experts.”
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