Land Reform Alternatives to be presented
LAND REFORM ALTERNATIVES TO BE PRESENTED AT LAND INDABA
Farmers from all corners of Kwazulu Natal, belonging to the provinces agricultural union Kwanalu, met this week in Pietermaritzburg ahead of the country’s National Land Indaba which takes place tomorrow, Friday, March 20, to discuss and formulate possible sustainable and feasible land reform solutions.
The Road to Meaningful and Sustainable Land Reform meeting, held at the Royal Agricultural Show Grounds, was organised by Kwanalu on behalf of their members in response to President Jacob Zuma’s agricultural bid in his state of the nation address last month in which he proposed 50/50 partnerships and 12 000ha or two farm caps on land ownerships as the way forward for land reform.
At the National Land Indaba, to be held in Johannesburg, Kwanalu CEO Sandy La Marque will lobby for potential alternative resolutions on land reform, tabled at the meeting on Tuesday, as substitutes to President Zuma’s proposal.
The farmers, together with the board of Kwanalu and representatives from farming associations, commodity groups and their affiliates from all areas of KZN gathered together in a full day workshop to discuss and debate potential best practice models as sustainable, working and fair answers to land reform to be presented at the meeting on Friday.
“Between 1994 and 2014 the Government spent a staggering R70 billion on land reform projects and we have nothing to show for it. We need to move forward and embrace transformation for the sake of our and future generations’ futures and us as farmers are the best people to ask to find these solutions to land reform. Each of us needs to stand up and accept the challenge to make a difference,” President of Kwanalu, Mike Black told farmers at the onset of the meeting.
Four existing effective land reform farming models, representing a variety of commodities, were presented to the group as possible solutions to land reform.
The Agri-Village concept was presented by the Winterton Farmers Association’s Peter Stockil. Stockil encouraged farmers to become the answer to problems instead of waiting for Government to find solutions to their problems.
“We need to start getting involved. We farmers have spent our time trying to keep our heads above water and have left land reform issues to the Department of Agriculture, politicians and our agricultural associations to sort out,” Stockil told the farmers.
The Agri-Village system consists of plots of land, laid out in the form of a village on a separate sub-divisions to accommodate farm workers of one or more farmers.
“The Agri-Village gives farm workers the opportunity to invest in land and have security of tenure. It makes for provision of services more cost effective,” said Stockil.
A labour empowerment initiative as answer to land reform was presented by Anthony Edmonds from Donovale Farming Company outside Pietermaritzburg. The company is 51% share owned by Edmonds and his brother and 49% owned by 60 farm workers as beneficiaries of the Silwanentuthuko Trust who acquired land through a government grant.
“Together we are committed to the National Development Plan of establishing successful land reform projects by 2030. We have to embrace and assist small scale farmers and we have to assist policy makers in formulating a firm, realistic policy framework to take to Government,” Edmonds said.
The third enterprise, the District Approach as adopted by the Upper Midlands Agricultural Transformation Initiative (UMATI) in partnership with the LIMA Rural Development Foundation was presented by Graham Armstrong of Mooi River. UMATI, a non-profit organisation, made up of various farming associations, the Mpofana Municipality, LIMA Rural Development Foundation, the Mpofana Irrigation Project and BBBEE Enterprise are facilitators responsible for driving transformation in their region.
“Too much development in the past has happened in isolation. We at UMATI believe there is far more reason to be successful if we work together towards land reform,” Armstrong told the meeting.
Ladysmith farmer Roland Henderson, speaking on Labour Tenant and Empowerment as an option to land reform, encouraged farmers to remember that land reform is not about land but rather about people.
“We believe that small-scale agriculture is the focus with emphasis on improving people’s lives. These people are not after large scale commercial farming, they simply want an improved life and their own piece of land they can call home,” he told fellow farmers.
“The Government are the facilitators of the process, we farmers are the ones with the expertise and so we need to get involved at grass roots levels to figure out how we can improve people’s lives,” Henderson said.
Following The Road to Meaningful and Sustainable Land Reform CEO of Kwanalu Sandy La Marque said she was pleased with the outcome and suggestions put forward by the various farmers and looked forward to presenting them at the National Land Indaba on Friday.
“I can now tell the Minister Nkwinti at the National Land Indaba that the 50/50 proposal will not work and that we have other best practices which already exist and are successful options to land reform and transformation,” La Marque said.