Pretoria farm redistributed to worthy beneficiary

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Land Affairs and Agriculture has reallocated a farm north of Pretoria to a new land reform beneficiary who will use the land in a sustainable way.

Land Affairs and Agriculture Minister Lulu Xingwana last week 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.

She explained that land must be fully utilised and that farms must always be in production, whether it be crop or livestock.

In 2007 the department bought the Klopperbos Ostrich Farm in Hammanskraal for R3.5 million. The owner donated 77 ostriches, a truck, a bakkie and a tractor to help the new owner further the business.

The department, through its Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS), handed the land over to the first beneficiary, Phaphamang Ma-Africa. However, they abandoned the farm between July and August last year.

Visiting the farm on Wednesday and planting seeds to grow feed for the ostriches, the minister said her department had reallocated the farm to a new beneficiary, a local women organisation called Women in Agriculture and Rural Development (WARD).

"We are committed to revitalise this farm since there was no farming taking place and the beneficiaries have disappeared. We will assist the new beneficiaries to set up a restaurant, provide training on ostrich farming and tourism," she said.

The state veterinarian had also assessed the ostriches. Ms Xingwana said they would be deliver eggs if they are well fed. "We were also told that they are good breed of birds in the country."

The minister, however, warned the new beneficiary that her department will be monitoring the farm to ensure that it was being used productively.

"We are going to scrutinise all people identified as new beneficiaries of the land. We cannot continue to assist people who are not committed to use agricultural land for sustainable development.

The new beneficiaries, who will be sent for training at the Bontle Training Academy in Delmas, will also use the land for crop and maize production, which will also be used for ostrich feed.

When the farm abandoned last year the Nokeng tsa Taemane Municipality intervened and allocated R70 000 to buy feed for the ostriches and R18 000 for electricity and renovations.

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