‘Mega-farmers’ will give up land

2014-12-06 00:00

CAPE TOWN — A proposal that would see large commercial farmers hand over 20% of their land to their workers was welcomed yesterday. Mtobeli Mxotwa, a spokesperson for Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti, said it was a “good step”.

In terms of the proposal, large farmers would hand over 20% of their farms to their employees in return for a state loan equivalent to the value of the land, repayable over 40 years at an interest rate of two to three percent.

“We are happy that large commercial farmers are making proposals. It is important that the big roleplayers start to contribute to the land reform discourse. We are impressed,” said Mxotwa.

The proposal arose from a meeting of the country’s largest farmers, the ­ProAgri group, in Stellenbosch this week. Thirty-eight “mega-farmers” met Professor Mohammed Ka­raan, dean of the faculty of agrisciences, to examine the issue of land reform.

Nkwinti has set a deadline of April 2015 for reform proposals. The minister has proposed that farmers should hand over 50% of their land to their workers.

KZN sugar farmer Charl Senekal said their proposal represents “fair” land reform. “I have already bought a plot of land that I can offer to my workers.”

He stressed that proposal has not yet been approved, but said the country’s mega-farmers are reasonable people.

AgriSA president Johannes Möller said in reaction that the proposal fits the framework for land reform recently adopted by the organisation.

He said about half his members are “micro-farmers” with an annual turnover of around R500 000, who would not be able to participate, and that it is important that land be bought at market value, so as not to upset the market.

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