Land Reform

2009-03-03 00:00

WHILE South Africa has so far been spared the agricultural catastrophe of President Robert Mugabe’s land grab in Zimbabwe, South Africa’s more orderly land transfer process is nevertheless leading to the situation where the country is becoming a net importer of food as vast tracts of once-productive land lie fallow.

For instance, 20 crop and dairy farms returned to a Kokstad community are now informal settlements, a once-thriving potato farm in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands is now a soccer field, a former multimillion-rand tea estate in Limpopo is now an overgrown forest and a R22-million irrigation system built by the government to supply water to new farmers in KwaZulu-Natal lies unused.

Moreover, it is not only land which has been transferred as part of a restitution process which has become unviable. Even farms which have been purchased on the open market by prominent politicians have ceased to be productive. It is hardly surprising. They are politicians, not farmers.

Commercial farming, as distinct from a subsistence scratching of the soil, is an activity which requires industry, expertise and capital. In most cases, the new owners have none of these things. A company, South African Farm Management (SAFM), set up by the Land Claims Commission to provide management expertise and capital to new farmers in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, has itself gone into liquidation owing R100 million. Its implosion is due to mismanagement.

Righting the wrongs of apartheid and correcting South Africa’s skewed land distribution are commendable goals. But as South Africa’s population becomes increasingly urbanised, so does the food security which depends on commercial agriculture become increasingly important. We undermine that at our peril with the Zimbabwean disaster an ever-present reminder of what could happen.

Join the conversation! 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. 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

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


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 network.


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.