OPINION: Agricultural sector needs transformation
JOHANNESBURG - Our Constitution compels the government to undertake land reform in order to address the injustices of the past.
The present race-based skewed land ownership pattern is not sustainable for our country.
The indigenous people were dispossessed of their land through colonial wars of conquest and through the apartheid laws and policies. Land ownership is a social right so people can grow their own food. Landlessness causes poverty; hence the majority of black people live in grinding poverty.
Surely we cannot expect harmony and proper economic growth when these basic human rights have not been addressed.
An upsurge in farm evictions will not only lead to the mushrooming of shanty towns around our cities, but will also lead to social upheaval, the consequences of which are too ghastly to contemplate.
It is for this reason that the department of rural development and land reform has decided to establish Policy Framework on Strengthening the Relative Rights of People working the Land (50/50 policy) to improve the lives of farm workers and farm dwellers through the implementation of the Policy Framework on Strengthening the Relative Rights of People working the Land (50/50 policy).
Over the last two year the Department has implemented 50/50 projects that have assisted beneficiaries (mainly farm workers and dwellers) to secure permanent tenure on the property where they work and live as well as acquire economic interests in agricultural land and businesses on which they are working.
First introduced in 2014 the programme aims at ensuring transformation and broad based participation of the farm dwellers who are farm labourers in the agricultural enterprises where they live and work.
The main objective of the policy is to protect and promote the rights of people working the land, thereby strengthening the relative rights of farm workers and dwellers. It was unacceptable that people who “broke their backs” working on farms had nothing.
The model that is being piloted on selected commercial farms across the country is implemented by financing the workers to acquire meaningful equity in farms in an arrangement that is designed to facilitate skills transfer from farm owners to the new worker/owner structure.
The initiative also contributes towards the much needed social cohesion in rural communities and economic empowerment.
Despite initial skepticism, organised agriculture has begun to embrace the initiative. The programme is now embraced by commercial farmers, and a total of 90 proposals have been received from established farmers across the country. A partnership with the National Empowerment Fund has ensured the successful implementation of the model by financing the communities to acquire meaningful equity in farms.
In addition to this the model is designed to facilitate skills transfer from farm owners to the new worker/owner structures.
- BUSINESS REPORT