‘Land reform, food security linked’

2012-06-07 00:00

LAND reform cannot be separated from food security, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said in Sandton yesterday.

“It is not only about transformation, but about the economy. It is about food production and food security,” said Mantashe after leading an ANC delegation that met about 60 commercial and emerging farmers for a whole day to discuss food security, land reform and rural safety.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa was also present, while businessman and former minister Roelf Meyer acted as the facilitator.

With the help of agricultural experts, the ANC handpicked 30 highly successful commercial farmers and invited them to the meeting with 30 emerging farmers. No farmers’ organisations were present.

Mantashe said the purpose of the meeting was to get input from successful commercial farmers on how to make land reform work and ensure food security.

“It is no good giving land to land claimants and two years later there is only a bare piece of land. That does not help the country. Land reform and food security go hand in hand,” Mantashe said.

Meyer said he got involved in the discussion because the subject of land reform is “close to his heart”.

“There are many emerging farmers who receive land, but don’t know how to farm. The idea is to get big farmers to share their skills with them and to say how they can help these farmers,” said Meyer.

He said land must be better utilised in order to ensure commercial prosperity for the whole country.

ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola got farmers’ organisations’ hot under the collar when he threatened violent action against farmers if they did not freely transfer their land to the state.

Charl Senekal, of Pongola, who is one of South Africa’s most successful farmers, told Beeld the feeling among the farmers was that they would like to have a better relationship with government.

Gerdie Landman, a milk farmer from the Karoo, said the meeting was cordial and relaxed, and farmers had offered to help in ensuring that land reform succeeds.

A working group was formed to take the proposals further and come up with workable plans.

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