Land reform farms in need of rescue

2011-05-16 12:48

The government has issued a call for strategic partners to help turn around 852 land reform projects at risk of collapse, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said today.

“To date, 852 distressed farms have been advertised for expressions of interest by either mentors or strategic partners interested in making them commercially viable and productive across the country,” he said in reply to a parliamentary question.

Nkwinti said the department had received tenders for just under half of the distressed farms.

“A total of 411 farms were selected from the 852 advertised farms by both strategic mentors through normal tender processes and direct sourcing.”

Asked by the Congress of the People whether his department had been successful in ensuring that all 2.9 million hectares of land given to reform beneficiaries remained productive, he answered: “No.”

Nkwinti said the department had therefore been forced to introduce its Recapitalisation and Development Programme to help failing land reform projects become viable.

To this end, 25% of the budget of R900 million for land acquisition in the last financial year was set aside for recapitalisation of existing projects. The department hoped to recapitalise 504 farms.

Nkwinti has been frank about the failures of the land reform programme and has acknowledged that the state will not achieve its aim of transferring 30% of white-owned land to emerging black farmers by 2014.

The release of his long-awaited green paper outlining a new approach to land reform has been repeatedly delayed.

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