Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza. File picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Parliament - Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza on Tuesday called for dialogue with landowners as the department seeks to change historically skewed ownership demographics.

"In addressing the land question and its productive use, will need a meaningful conversation with land owners, be they farmers, companies or trust. We need to be genuine and deliberate in transforming this sector. Historically, black South Africans were excluded from meaningful participation in the agricultural economy," she said in her department's budget vote speech in Parliament. 

The end result was that the agricultural food chain was concentrated in the hands of a few and that was not sustainable, she added.

We need to work together to open up the sector, create opportunities for the historically disadvantaged groups, and make a concerted effort in growing the sector on an inclusive basis.

The department was therefore developing a strategy to bring more women and young people into agricultural food production, she said.

Didiza said the department planned to "revitalise" land that was transferred through the state's restitution projects and so support emerging farmers.

According to a study by the Centre for Development and Enterprise, some 11 million hectares of freehold farm land has been redistributed through government programmes since the advent of democracy in 1994.

Parliament is due to finalise a constitutional amendment designed to speed up the process by explicitly allowing for expropriation without compensation.

African News Agency/ANA