Land Reform and Agricultural Production

Thanks very much for the article on the increase in food prices. As far as TRAC-MP is concerned, and I am sure that these sentiments are shared with other Land Rights NGOs, the Minister should apologise to the South African public for the failure of the Land Reform Programme. Barely 5% of SA land has been returned to historically disadvantaged people since 1994. Those people who could farm land they have access to, including farm workers and occupiers of state land in the former Bantustans, are the last to be assisted by the Department of Land Affairs (DLA) in securing their access to land and appropriate agricultural support.

Additionally, land on its own is not enough to guarantee production, rather it is one factor which needs to be matched by skills, inputs and markets. At present the DLA is buying farms left right and centre in terms of their pro-active land acquisition strategy, on a willing seller basis but have not spoken to the landless and rural poor about what they really need to start producing. So unfortunately these types of statements do not have any value as far as improving the situation. We are likely to see continued declines in agricultural production as the DLA buys out commercial farmers and tries desperately to find people willing to resettle on these lands. All in all it is a mess with very little prospect of address high food prices and food security.

Yours in Land Rights and Sustainable Livelihoods

Chris Williams
Director TRAC-MP
Date: 16/07/2008

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