Nkwinti sets land reform deadline
Cape Town - All land reform farms should be "100%" productive and sustainable within the next three years, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Tuesday.
In an effort to achieve this, the department had set aside R3.3bn for land reform, excluding its restitution programme, Nkwinti said during debate on his budget vote speech in the National Assembly.
Of this amount, R2bn had been set aside for "strategic acquisition" of about 303 612 hectares.
About R1.3bn had been set aside to ensure all land reform farms were fully functional and "100%" productive, through a recapitalisation and development programme.
His assurance came a month after he called for partners to help turn around 852 land reform projects at risk of collapse. The farms had been advertised for expressions of interest by either mentors or strategic partners who wanted to make them commercially viable and productive.
He said his department had not been successful in ensuring all 2.9 million hectares of land given to beneficiaries remained productive. The department had therefore been forced to introduce its recapitalisation programme.
Addressing MPs on Tuesday, he said the programme was thus far proving to be fruitful.
One observation, particularly from some commercial farmers, was that the department's method of selecting strategic partners, especially as mentors, needed to be reviewed.
"They hold that in certain instances strategic partners chosen by the department are failed farmers."
Another criticism, from emerging farmers, was that the department's selection of beneficiaries of redistributed land was not helping create food security.
They complained land was often given to people who had no interest in, or ability and passion for farming.
Nkwinti said both criticisms were valid. The two groups had asked to be part of the selection processes, which the department had agreed to.
Meanwhile, Nkwinti said only R2bn had been made available for land restitution this financial year. This meant this programme would not be concluded within the next few years.
"This realisation has forced the department to reconsider its strategy. It has got to actively engage with all stakeholders, current land owners and claimants, to work out a mechanism which could ease the pressure in this regard."