Farmers unhappy over Gugile Nkwinti’s push for land ownership limits

2014-09-08 13:42

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Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti used the land tenure summit to push for land ownership limits known as “land ceilings”, the Agri-Sector Unity Forum of South Africa has said.

“It seems that Minister Nkwinti’s main aim with this summit was to get [a] buy-in for the ANC policy conference resolutions regarding land ceilings,” chairperson of the forum, Japie Grobler, said today.

“It really is a pity that the minister used this summit to try and force land ceilings through and did so on the basis of a discussion document submitted to him by [the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa].”

The three-day summit in Boksburg, which ended on Saturday, heard that a cap could be imposed on the amount of land farmers could own, according to the SABC.

It was proposed that small- and medium-scale farmers be allowed a ceiling of between 4000 and 8000 hectares, the broadcaster reported.

Grobler said land ceilings were proposed in a green paper, but there had been no buy-in after nearly two years of consultation and negotiations.

“From the outset, it was clear that the minister wanted the summit to give the go-ahead for the implementation of land ceilings in order to give effect to the green paper proposal of private ownership with limited extent,” he said.

“While some of the member organisations of the forum [which is an inclusive, voluntary association of representative agricultural groups] indicated at the summit that they might support blanket land ceilings, this is an extremely complex matter with many probable negative consequences.”

He said a “host of variables” had to be taken into account regarding sustainable farm sizes.

“It is something which requires informed debate within the forum’s family and will be on the agenda of its next meeting.

“This debate must take place within the framework of national food security, the stability of the sector, investment in the sector and commodity specific requirements for land.”

He said land ceilings in an “absolute form”, like a maximum number of hectares, could negatively affect job creation.

The summit was attended by various member organisations including Agri SA, the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa, the Transvaal Agricultural Union and the National African Farmers’ Union.

Among the other topics discussed were corruption in the land sector, commercial farm evictions, security and basic services to farm workers.

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