President Jacob Zuma. Photo: Leon Nicholas.

Many of the farms that were bought by government for redistribution are in a poor state of repair, says President Jacob Zuma.

Delivering his reply to the Presidency budget vote debate on Thursday, Zuma said that in 2009 government had set a target to redistribute 30% of the 82 million hectares of white-owned agricultural land to black people by 2014.

He said that government’s midterm review had shown that the process of acquiring and distributing a particular piece of land was often lengthy, and raised the cost of redistribution, because the former owner stops investing in the land.

This meant that many farms were in a state of disrepair at the point of acquisition.

“In addition, there has often been a decline in productivity on the redistributed farms. In response, government adopted the recapitalisation programme in November 2010,” he said.

By December last year, 595 farms were in the process of being rehabilitated through this programme.

Zuma said that strategic partners and mentors, who were competent and experienced farmers themselves, were appointed to assist beneficiaries with farming activities.

“The strategic partners and mentors are required to develop the farming skills of beneficiaries, provide them with access to markets, and where possible access to the entire value chain of that particular business. Most importantly, the strategic partners are required to share in the risks of the farming enterprise to ensure the success of the venture,” Zuma said. - I-Net Bridge