Why black farmers are selling up

2011-09-03 16:05

A new class of farmer needs capital, training and time to reap what it sows

Free State farmer Francois Wilken recently bought a farm near Wepener from a desperate group of 20 emerging black farmers who had given up their 10-year struggle to make a living.

Without adequate government support and access to training, many of them have been forced to re-sell farmland given to them through land reform.

Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti conceded on Wednesday when he released the draft green paper on land reform that black farmers have resold nearly 30% of the white farmland bought for them by government.

Many sell it back to the original owners.

Wilken said the group of farmers were given the 113 hectare farm in 2001.

“For two years they were able to continue farming with the assistance of the previous owner,” Wilken said.

“But he was treated badly by some of the people and stopped helping them. There was no government assistance in terms of training, production or financial support.

“They wanted to sell the farm to me in November. I first tried to help them by speaking to government officials, to no avail. By March the farmers said they really needed to sell now.”

Shilling Shai (64) has been working and “studying” farming for the past 40 years on a farm near Tzaneen in Limpopo.

When the owner died and his children decided to sell the farm, they offered Shai 36 hectares.

“I needed to make a plan to get the money. When I went to the government, I was told they’d stopped buying farms for people. My only solution was to apply for a loan from the Land Bank, which I was given,” Shai said.

“I owned the farm for two and a half years but had to re-sell it because I didn’t get any help to buy farm implements such as tractors. In all that time I was only given 25 bags of compost.”

Shai was not able to get production off the ground.

“I was really suffering. This is the first time I’ve ever had such a big loan and I panicked,” he said.

“All I could do was sell the land again to get rid of my debt.”

This is a plight shared by many emerging farmers, said Mike Mlengana, president of the African Farmers Association of South Africa.

“Although government has started to listen to our concerns, no one is coming forward with an actual plan on how government is going to make emerging farmers commercially successful in the future,” Mlengana said.

While the green paper does provide for a recapitalisation and development programme, Mlengana said it focused on failed farms bought in the past.

“There’s a big gap between ­ re-investing with capital and training emerging farmers to make them successful commercial farmers,” Mlengana said. “There’s also a serious need to create a programme that will ensure farm and beneficiary selection is done properly – that you have the right type of farmer on the right type of farm.”

He said black farmers could not be blamed for their failures because they were not supported by government.

He hoped the new mentorship programme, where white farmers would be roped in to help and which Agri-SA was contributing towards, would aid struggling emerging farmers.

Livhuwani Ngwekhulu, transformation manager at Agri-SA, said a comprehensive support programme needed to run hand-in-hand with land reform.

“Capital and capacity support need to be in place before land is handed over to emerging farmers,” he said.

 

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.