Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti. Photo: Leon Nicholas.

Government's obsession with having 30 percent of agricultural land under black control by 2014 led to a “wasted a pile of money” by the state, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said, Beeld reported on Friday.

He was speaking at the annual meeting of the South African Sugar Association (SASA) in Durban on Thursday.

When he took over the department in 2009, two thirds of his budget was spent on the redistribution of land, Nkwinti said.

“We wasted a pile of money because we were chasing after a target of R24.5 million hectares, which is actually not an excessive figure.”

Currently, 25 percent of his department's budget of R1.7 billion is being spent on the recapitalisation of 416 farms that have been transferred due to land claims, the daily reported.

“Agriculture is about business. The government cannot succeed if it ventures into business. We provide the infrastructure and leave matters to the farmers,” he said.

Bongani Linda, chairman of SASA, said 21 percent of land in the sugar industry was under black ownership, while seven percent of the rest of agricultural land was black owned. - Sapa