[Exerpt – Full article in Talk of the Town]
Over the last few months, there have been significant developments with regards to organised agriculture’s engagements with the ANC and government in regard to land reform and expropriation without compensation.
On August 21 Agri SA and Agbiz (agricultural business centre) met with ANC Deputy President David Mabuza and ANC Treasurer General Paul Mashatile.
In this meeting, specific policy comments were made, including that no land grabs will be allowed, the protection of productive agricultural ground will remain a priority, fallow land in the deep rural areas will be optimised, property rights will remain a key priority in agrarian development, and production will be initiated on the approximately 4,000 farms currently in government possession, to unlock their commercial value and create farming opportunities.
Furthermore, an invitation was extended to organised agriculture to delegate representatives to serve on the advisory panel on land reform to support the inter-ministerial task team on land reform chaired by Mabuza. This meeting was apart from the meeting held in Cape Town between President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister in the Presidency responsible for planning, monitoring and evaluation, Nkosana Dlamini-Zuma and Agri SA president Dan Kriek.
The Landbou Weekblad/Agri SA Land Summit in Bela Bela was also attended by Mabuza, Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Maite Nkoana-Mashabane as well as the DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) Director General Mike Mlengana. At this summit, the above-mentioned points were again highlighted by Mabuza. More than 65 presentations were made by farmers of all races from a variety of agricultural backgrounds, as well as prominent academics, industry role-players and the financial sector.
Sub-themes presented included: How do we trust each other? What is the context? Workers-partners for success; regenerating the Platteland; regenerating communal areas; good neighbours and mentorships; regenerating restitution farms; farming in partnership; black farmers’ experiences; and funding models.
The common threads running throughout were that the lack of title deeds directly affects access to production finance. Government support programmes are poorly implemented where they exist and most of the success stories involved no government support and were initiated by farmers voluntarily. What became clearly apparent was that there is no shortage of innovative ideas and structures to enable meaningful progress to be made in this regard. The institutions providing funding within the agricultural space were however criticised for not doing enough and were challenged to present their loan books regarding loans to emerging farmers if they differed from this view.