SA moves to ensure productivity on farms

agricultureJOHANNESBURG South Africa will implement the use it or lose it principle to ensure resettled farmers maintain production at redistributed farmland, a government official said last week.

“You know, use it or lose it will work now, with the recapitalisation and development with the strategic partnerships we will form with farmers, whether active or retired,” South African Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti told reporters in Cape Town.

“Our view is that give them a chance, establish a clear system of managing these farms, provide necessary support and those who do not want to work the land, take them (off). There is not going to be any compromise on that part. The only thing that we thought we should strengthen is the support.”

Thousands of poor blacks are still waiting for the ANC government to deliver on its promise on coming to power in 1994 when it set itself an ambitious target of redistributing 30 percent of all agricultural land to the black majority by 2014.

But the huge cost of acquiring land estimated at R75 billion for 82 million hectares of land as well as problems in negotiating land prices under a “willing-buyer, willing-seller” policy have seen the government managing to acquire only 4 percent of land from private owners to date for redistribution, amid growing unrest among the poor landless blacks.

South Africa just like Zimbabwe inherited an unjust land tenure system from previous white-controlled governments under which the bulk of the best arable land was reserved for whites while blacks were forced to crowd on mostly semi-arid and infertile soils.

But South Africa, which has one of Africas biggest farming sectors and its biggest economy, has repeatedly said it will not follow the example of Zimbabwe where President Robert Mugabe seized most of the farms owned by that countrys about 4 500 white commercial farmers and gave them over to blacks destroying commercial agriculture.

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