Increased focused on land reform, redistribution

Friday, February 16, 2018

Government will take a decisive approach towards land reform and redistribution this year.

This will ensure that South Africa realises the enormous economic potential of the agricultural sector which can significantly grow the economy and create jobs.

The agriculture sector has been identified as a key platform for transformation, growth and job creation which could create one million jobs by 2030. 

“Agriculture presents one of the greatest opportunities to significantly grow our economy and create jobs. Agriculture made the largest contribution, by a significant margin, to the improved growth of our economy in the second and third quarters of 2017,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday.  

Delivering his maiden State of the Nation Address during a joint sitting of Parliament, President Ramaphosa said the process of restoring land to previously disadvantaged South Africans will be conducted with great care, which will also bring more producers into the agricultural sector.

“We will accelerate our land redistribution programme not only to redress a grave historical injustice but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation,” said the new President, who was greeted with songs, dance and a standing ovation from nearly everyone in the gallery and most opposition parties when the President arrived in Parliament.

He said government will pursue a comprehensive approach that makes effective use of all the mechanisms at its disposal, which will include the expropriation of land without compensation as guided by the resolutions of the 54th National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC).

“We are determined that expropriation without compensation should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensures that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.”

Government will undertake a process of consultation to determine the modalities of the implementation of this resolution.

The President made a special call to financial institutions to partner with government in mobilising resources to accelerate the land redistribution programme, as increased investment will be needed in this sector.

Land reform remains one of the country's most emotive issues.

While government’s land reform and redistribution programmes have yielded some successes since 1994, large tracts of land still remain in the hands of very few people.

Data shows that only eight million hectares of arable land have been transferred to black people, which is only 9.8 % of the 82 million hectares of arable land in South Africa.

There has also been a 19 percent decline in households involved in agriculture from 2.9 million in 2011 to 2.3 million households in 2016.

Government has continued to prioritise the land issue in South Africa by implementing programmes such as Strengthening Relatives Rights of people working and living the land (50/50), committed to supporting black smallholder farmers, implement a commercialisation support programme for 450 black smallholder farmers in the year 2017, and committed to the empowerment of women through all government programs. - SAnews.gov.za

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