KZN has lots of farm land, study finds

2010-11-30 00:00

A PILOT study project commissioned to investigate land ownership, land use and the impact it has had on black economic empowerment has found that KwaZulu-Natal has large, unused agricultural land with potential to improve agricultural production.

The study was commissioned by the farmers’ union, Agri-SA, after it emerged that there was no proper land ownership database to monitor land transfers and use.

There have been no accurate government data since 1994 about how much land is in the hands of whites or is owned by the state, or is bought for or given to blacks.

Theo de Jager, chairperson of Agri-SA, said the researchers have been moving from farm to farm in KZN to verify ownership. The project is not yet completed, but it will soon be extended to verify land ownership nationwide.

De Jager said the research has found that boundaries between tracts of land owned by the state and the Ingonyama Trust, which holds most of the land in the province, were not clear. There are lands that have not been surveyed and lands whose ownership could not be verified.

The province’s land on the coast, in the bush and in river beds has either not been verified or not been surveyed.

Another stumbling block in the verification project is the lack of co-operation by the deeds office which is said to be demanding a fee of R50 per property.

De Jager said: “While the pilot project was not complete, it has given a clear picture of what exactly it is that we do not know when it comes to land ownership.”

He said the study found that there are large tracts of land that can be developed and used for farming.

“We discovered that there is huge potential for agricultural production in the province, but the land was either not used or it was inappropriately used or underutilised.”

De Jager said of the database: “This project is essential because it will help us to monitor the land. With the government demanding that we reach a 30% land target we do not know whether that target has been reached …”

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