Unproductive farm reallocated to genuine beneficiary

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Johannesburg - The Yzervarkfontein Farm in Bapsfontein in Johannesburg's East Rand has been reallocated to a new owner after it was discovered the beneficiary was not using the land productively.

The 20 hectare farm had been allocated to an emerging female farmer as part of the Department of Land Affairs' land redistribution programme in 2007. The farm was bought from the original owner for R2 million.

"At first we allocated this farm to a black emerging woman farmer who indicated that she wanted to develop the farm, but through our visits on numerous occasions, we discovered that there was no agricultural enterprise taking place as we were promised.

"We also discovered that she has never lived in the farm and is currently living in Pretoria," said the Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana, on a visit the farm on Wednesday.

The minister described the situation as a mockery of the land reform programme.

Government had also allocated R200 000 to build poultry houses and other required infrastructure. However, the poultry houses which were installed with modern equipment and the abattoir have been lying unused.

An advanced security system was also erected to protect the occupants of the farm.

Yzervarkfontein will now be reallocated to a group of skilled emerging farmers who are successfully running a poultry farm in Bronkhorspruit. The minister said these farmers would use the land for what it was intended for.

In March, Ms Xingwana announced that the department would be implementing a "use it or lose it" principle to land reform beneficiaries who did not utilise their farms for the purpose it was intended for.

The "use it or lose it" principle provides that those who do not use the land for farming will be taken away by the state and reallocated to those who have a passion in farming including the agricultural co-operatives.

She also established a task team to visit farms and assess whether were being fully utilised and in production, whether it be crop or livestock. The team has already visited the Eastern Cape, Free State and Gauteng.

Land reform can be defined as the transformation of patterns of land ownership, to redistribute land and rights in land, as well as economic benefits, to disadvantaged sections of the society.

The policy has the dual objective, of alleviating poverty by enhancing household food security and rural livelihoods

As well as supporting rural economic development through measures directed at promoting entrepreneurship in the agricultural and other economic sectors.

In March the minister reallocated an ostrich farm north of Pretoria to a new beneficiary who is now using it in a sustainable way.