Government needs to offer support to black farmers now - Agri SA board member

Siphiwo "SK" Makinana says he finds it hard to support expropriation without compensation.

Makinana, who is an Agri SA board member and an Eastern Cape farmer, said research should have been done previously in order to start the process.

"Research should have been done, starting from the time of Minister Hanekom whilst he was the minister of land reform. He gave a number of black people farms, and what has happened to those farms now, all of them, nothing takes place there in most of them," Makinana said.

Makinana was speaking at an Agri SA briefing in Centurion on Wednesday, where the association said that it would continue to pursue all credible avenues to protect farmers, and vowed to challenge the amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution in court.

Makinana said, as much as he wanted black people to get land and transformation to take place, he did not feel the "fashion [in which] the government is approaching it" was correct.

He said the government should have identified why most farms that were given to black people in the past were still not fully commercial by now.

No assistance

"The problem is simple. If you are a commercial farmer, you have to have financial institution backup. The government should have developed developmental financial institutions which are designed to help the small-scale farmers and it hasn’t done that in all the provinces," Makinana said.

He said some farms that were leased from the government had no infrastructure and that it was the duty of the government to assist in this regard, which had not been done up to this point.

He said the Department of [Rural Development and] Land Reform never considered whether the farmers getting the land had been exposed to commercial agriculture. 

"But if you are just picked as if it’s a raffle, you do not know where to start and how to start. Now the government hasn’t explained yet how is it going to allocate these farms, to whom and why, and therefore I find it hard that we can support an approach where a cow producing 25 litres of milk is now going to be put on its own, where no assistance will be given to it," he said.

"When they see that 'SK' is a farmer and is doing well... and I am interested in being a farmer. Now you see people saying, 'we want land, we want land', but for what?" Makinana said.

He said there was land in the Eastern Cape and around KwaZulu-Natal that was not being used to farm on.

"My view is that proper planning for small-scale farmers to be commercial is not done, and it should be done. And the current people who are on land should be assisted, without taking more people into the land without a business plan," said Makinana. 

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