R/€ = 15.26Change: -0.01
R/$ = 14.41Change: -0.03
Au 1057.95 $/ozChange: 0.07
Pt 835.50 $/ozChange: 0.00
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?

And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters About Us
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
Aug 10, 2012

Forceful land acquisitions not in SA’s future if government increases efficiency

Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) Director Benjamin Cousins discussing land reform
Agriculture|Engineering|Expertise|Natal|Africa|Defence|Efficiency|SECURITY|System|Technology|Training|Water|Africa|South Africa|Zimbabwe|Institute Of Poverty|Equipment|Food|Food Security|Maintenance|Services|Eastern Cape|Ben Cousins|Gugile Nkwinti|Eastern Cape
© Reuse this

While the farming community in South Africa has often expressed concern that land reform will threaten food security, Department of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies and Institute of Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (Plaas) senior professor Ben Cousins believes there is no basis for such a concern, as little land has been transferred to date.

Further, he notes that, of the land that has been transferred, some has not previously been used to produce food.

“Given that there is massive concentration in the farming sector – the top 25% of farmers produce 75% of South Africa’s produce – government could easily achieve its land reform target without negatively influencing commercial production in any way,” says Cousins.

Government wants to transfer 30% of the estimated 82-million hectares of agricultural land that is owned by white commercial farmers to black farmers by 2014. The transferred land will represent 24.5-million hectares.

To date, government has redistributed nearly 8% of the 30% targeted white-owned land and resolved 90% of urban restitution claims through cash compensation.

Land restitution, unlike redistribution is rights-based. Around 3 000 rural land claims, which government would like to resolve through restoration of land and not cash compensation, are still to be settled.

“In my opinion, the 30% target was purely arbitrary. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be 50% or 70% over the longer term. There is also no reason why the agriculture sector cannot stay productive in the face of land reform,” Cousins stresses.

He adds that land reform has, to date, had a minimal impact on the agriculture sector, but acknowledges that it has created uncertainty among commercial farmers about the future.

“Currently, land is being leased to land reform beneficiaries on short-term leases, instead of being transferred in ownership, which means these farmers do not have long-term security.”

He adds that the African National Congress Youth League’s (ANCYL’s) call on government to amend the country’s Constitution and not compensate farmers for land has caused insecurity and uncertainty.

Forceful Land Acquisitions
Cousins does not believe that forceful land acquisitions will become a reality in South Africa, as government is committed to property rights, despite occasionally ‘making a noise’ about the amount of white-owned land in South Africa.

“I think forceful land acquisition is highly unlikely in South Africa,” he states.

However, he notes that a major contributor to the uncertainty, which he attributes to the emotional responses from farmers and the ANCYL with regard to land reform, is that government does not communicate clearly to the public.

“Government likes to make farmers the scapegoats so they can blame them for the failure of land reform,” says Cousins.

He adds that current public arguments are not about land, but symbolise other issues. “People’s reactions are based on emotion. Not much of the public debate is actually about how to carry out effective land reform.”

Nevertheless, Cousins emphasises that if government keeps moving at its current slow pace, populist politicians might use the situation as an excuse for urging a confiscatory land reform system, similar to that which happened in Zimbabwe.

“I think it is highly unlikely at the moment, but it could become a reality in future; however, I doubt that land occupations similar to the scale on which they have taken place in Zimbabwe, would ever take place in South Africa,” he states.

Land Reform

Government is reviewing its land reform policy and, last year, released a draft Green Paper on Land Reform.

Cousins states that not much clarity has, to date, emerged about the final version of the green paper. “The policy review has been a long-winded process.

“Why the policy process has been so slow is not clear, but it seems like inefficiency by government. Why the land reform process has been so slow is another question,” he states.

The biggest hurdle to land redistribution has been the slow and cumbersome buying of land through the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ approach. The alternative is proactive land acquisition in areas of both need and opportunity.

“Government has not been an efficient buyer of land, as the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform does not have adequate negotiation skills and is hampered by budget constraints. Government has a small budget for land reform – never more than 1% of its national budget has been allocated for this purpose,” says Cousins.

He stresses that land reform could contribute towards poverty reduction in South Africa. “Even if land reform beneficiaries use the land to produce food only for themselves, it will make a contribution towards alleviating poverty, as food security will be established.”

However, to truly address the roots of rural poverty, agricultural production will have to involve people producing both for the market and for themselves.

Areas where proactive acquisition and concentrated land-buying have worked well include Elliot, in the Eastern Cape, and Besters, in KwaZulu-Natal, where the proportion of farmland transferred quickly reached 20% to 30% of the total in those areas, says Cousins.

He says that, unfortunately, land transfers in these cases, and others, have not been matched by effective support services – a key component of effective land reform.

This is another key issue not adequately addressed in the African National Congress’s land-reform proposals, he points out.

In 2010, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti reported that 90% of the redistributed farmland was failing to produce food and that government might be forced to repossess the properties if that continued.

Plaas researchers, however, disagree with the Minister’s statement, estimating that only on 50% of redistributed farms there is little production taking place.

The institute admits that although a 50% failure rate is high, it is much less than what government claims.

Plaas states there has been public criticism about what many believe to be the failure of the land reform system.

Government has, therefore, through its recapitalisation and development programme, decided to assist the beneficiaries of redistributed land in keeping it productive.

Cousins believes the weaknesses of the current proactive land acquisition strategy, or PLAS, fails to provide tenure security and is subject to elite capture, which has also not been dealt with.

He stresses that, for proactive acquisition and concentrated land acquisition to work, three enabling conditions are required. The first is the need to equip government officials with the requisite skills and expertise, not only for canny land buying but also for effective spatial planning and agriculture support services.

The second is a budget large enough to transfer land on a significant scale, as well as support its new owners in establishing productive enterprises. Quadrupling the land reform budget, perhaps at the expense of defence, is imminently affordable, he states.

The third – and crucial – condition is sufficient political will to implement large-scale land redistribution.

To ensure land reform’s sustainability, this would have to be a component of and contribute to a wider agrarian reform strategy, which radically reconfigures the highly skewed agrarian structure inherited from apartheid and creates market opportunities for new emerging farmers.

Tenure Reform
Meanwhile, Cousins points out that government’s tenure reform programme, aimed at securing land rights for farm workers and communal land residents, has largely failed.

Tenure reform aims to strengthen the rights of people whose land tenure is insecure as a result of discriminatory laws and practices in the past. They include farm workers, labour tenants and rural households living on privately-owned land, as well as people living in the former homelands under the authority of traditional chiefs, he explains.

“Little progress has been made with the tenure reform programme; in fact, farm workers are continually evicted despite government laws and policies. Therefore, this programme must be deemed a failure,” he states.

Engineering Sector Involvement
Meanwhile, Cousins points out that the agricultural engineering sector must realise that land redistribution beneficiaries provide a new market with new opportunities.

He adds that the sector can help these beneficiaries by downscaling technology and providing training. More affordable equipment is also needed.

“The shortage of capital to invest in farming hampers successful land reform, which is why bigger machines and larger-scale technology are not necessarily appropriate.

“The available technology is often out of reach for land-reform beneficiaries,” says Cousins.

Training courses about tractor repair and maintenance, equipment repair and maintenance, as well as how to use and repair knapsack sprayers, are desperately needed to assist land reform beneficiaries in cultivating produce and contributing to production in South Africa.

Emerging farmers need to be trained in the use of capital equipment and have expert advice at their disposal when they encounter problems, such as how to deal with diseases that affect crops. They also need advice on marketing, as well as how to enter into cooperative partnerships.

In addition, land reform beneficiaries need support services to gain access to water and irrigation.

“Credit and finance is also an issue and new farmers need to be educated about where the opportunities in the agricultural sector are,” says Cousins.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Agriculture News
In the midst of the current drought crisis facing South Africa, Global Forum for Innovation in Agriculture (GFIA) believes that there is a need for urgent long-term, sustainable, innovative solutions that will help mitigate the impact of climate change, in order to...
Food prices are going up, and up due to the drought. The Department of Agriculture, led by Minister Senzeni Zokwana and Deputy Minister Bheki Cele, presented a report to a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, where they discussed the impact of the drought on food...
Despite a bleak economic outlook, JSE-listed Omnia is confident of returning to an upward growth trajectory after posting a double-digit drop in earnings for the six months to September 30. Shares in the specialised chemical products and services provider plunged...
Article contains comments
Latest News
French conglomerate Bollore may have to halt work on the Niger to Benin section of its giant West Africa rail project after a rival company won a court order to stop it going ahead. The dispute concerns rival rail schemes in the area.
A week ahead of the second annual gathering of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (Focac), in Johannesburg, the JSE is rolling out the proverbial red carpet for Chinese investors looking to Africa’s largest bourse for possible investment opportunities, calling...
The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) applied for leave to appeal on Friday against the Western Cape High Court judgment that set aside the approvals that would enable it to toll sections of the N1 and N2 freeways in Cape Town. This prompted the...
Recent Research Reports
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
This Week's Magazine
The BMW Group will invest R6-billion at BMW Group South Africa’s (BMW SA’s) Rosslyn plant to produce the next-generation X3 sports-activity vehicle (SAV) for the local and export markets. Rosslyn will continue production of the current 3 Series through its lifecycle,...
The lack of consequences for poor performance and transgressions on the part of contractors remains a significant hurdle to tackling South Africa’s service delivery challenges, delegates heard at the Consulting Engineers South Africa Infrastructure Indaba, on...
City of Ekurhuleni executive mayor Mondli Gungubele earlier this month officially named the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system, Harambee.
NICK CHRISTODOULOU As about 58% of data stored by organisations is dark, they must identify this dark data to expose risks and valuable information
About 58% of unstructured data stored by companies is dark data, which means that the value or regulatory importance of the data has not been determined. Subsequently, most of the stored data add costs, rather than increasing revenue or reduce regulatory risks, says...
BRIAN VERWEY Effective management, review and administration of non-core elements can improve business operations and increase revenue and decrease unforeseen risks
Effective logistics, import/export and manufacturing consulting services require detailed industry knowledge and experience, but can add significant value to these industries by providing expert advice on various technical elements in their value chains, says...
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks
Subscribe Now for $96 Close
Subscribe Now for $96