SA's land reforms threaten competitiveness

2010-10-11 15:52

Johannesburg - South Africa risks losing its status as Africa's agriculture hub as uncertainty over land reform undermines its competitiveness on the continent, said Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Deputy Minister Pieter Mulder.

After the end of apartheid in 1994, the government set a target of handing over 30% of commercial farmland to blacks by 2014 as part of a plan to correct racial imbalances in land distribution.

The programme has caused unease and slowed investment in the agricultural sector as white commercial farmers are unsure whether to reinvest in farms under claim by black farmers.

"Uncertainty about land reform and the current South African debates about nationalisation do not help to make South Africa more competitive than (other) African states," Mulder said in a statement released on Monday.

He added: "Let us learn from the mistakes which other African states had made...and let us not repeat them."

Land reform is a sensitive issue in South Africa and has been brought into focus by the decline in agriculture in neighbouring Zimbabwe, where white commercial farmers were often evicted violently by President Robert Mugabe's government.

A new South Africa draft land policy proposes limits to land ownership by its own citizens and foreigners.

Mulder said that other African countries with above-average rainfall, better land quality and warmer climates had more agricultural potential than South Africa and could soon rob the country of its leading position.

"It has already been proven this year in the field of grain production in that countries such as Zambia and Malawi, who traditionally had been importers of South African grain, will be self-sufficient this year," Mulder said.

South Africa, a major maize exporter for the past two years, has this year seen a decline in maize exports due to lower demand from its traditional markets, mainly within the region.

Most southern African countries are expected to record big maize harvests this year and plan to export the surplus.

South Africa was expecting its largest crop of the grain since the record 14.42 million tonnes in the 1981/82 season.

  • Investor - 2010-10-11 16:47

    SA is missing a huge opportunity in becomming an agricultural power house and exporter of agricultural products which will create growth and jobs and facilitate funds for service delivery. ANC should sort out their policies and face up to the realities the SA is party of the global economy and needs to become globally competitive.

  • Jaco - 2010-10-11 16:53

    the goverment must stop looking at who has what in this country. they must rather look at who can do what for this country.A farm is a business and not a play ground for the goverment to gain political power

  • Txpayer - 2010-10-11 17:06

    ANC lack of policy direction is creating investor uncertainty and preventing much need investment which is a pre-requisite for development, growth , job creation and thus service delivery. This applies in Agriculture and Mining where ANC descision to put nationalisation on the table for 2012 is effectively limiting invetment, growth and job creation for the next 2 years, further retarding already struggling economic growth.

  • Regulator - 2010-10-11 17:10

    ANC is displaying a severe lack of vision in failing to realise the full potential of South Africa. They want to fight over and eat the chicken instead of feeding the chicken and encouraging it to lay more and more golden eggs. It is time for vision, wisdom and couragous leadership, come on Zuma step up to the plate we know YOU CAN DO IT !!!!!

  • Farmer's Friend - 2010-10-11 17:17

    SA Farmers need to get organised and realise they are at war with criminals and need to protect the weak farmers who cannot afford security. Furthermore, farmers must be organised to expand their farming operations to neighboring countries who are farmer-friendly and who even subsidise their farming. There are HUGE farming opportunities in Souther Africa right now. Stop playing the victums and get organised, get off your you know whats and be pro-active for goodness sakes. Are you men, or MICE ??

  • Jamba - 2010-10-11 17:18

    Give land to the poor asap. And please, do it for free. The sooner SA go down, the better for the politicians. After all, you get what you want. And that is what your vote means.

  • Analyst - 2010-10-11 17:28

    There appears to be no co-ordination and no clear direction of policy within the ANC structures, which appear more focused on side issues which do not create development, growth, job creation and service delivery. Zuma has seen in China they have 10% growth and have created millions of jobs - but they do not tolerate corruption - corruption is punishable by DEATH !!!!!

  • Deon - 2010-10-11 17:31

    No wonder our farmers are leaving to go and farm in Georgia. Very little crime and they will be able to continue with their lives in a safe and friendly environment.

  • Jim - 2010-10-12 08:08

    What amazes me is that they have seen the results in Zim. And still they persue the same methods. What a bunch of idiots, sinking a wealthy country. Nationalise as well and we freewheeling to another Zim movie.

  • MJ - 2010-10-12 08:44

    I am pro this new land reforms!! The more skilled people leaving this palce, the better

  • peter - 2010-10-12 09:54

    Attention Mr. Mulder. Let us also focus on and learn from others where they got it right. Survey and give title deeds to people living in/on tribal/ govt owned land and then give thse people the dignity they supposedly voted for. Individual ownership works -not community mismanged. They are living like serfs now at the whim of the chief who has too much power over the land. Who gave him that power. The ANC has neglected rural developemnet for too long whilst they pusued the vote in the towns.

  • Andrew - 2010-11-02 14:19

    Often after a claim has been rejected. The dept of land affairs will go and tell the local blacks that the farmer wanted to much money and the farm then becomes unfarmable hence bring the farm onto the market.

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