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Why Ramaphosa's land reform panel has difficult task - economist

Sep 24 2018 10:47

The advisory panel appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to support and advise the Inter-ministerial Committee on Land Reform has a very difficult task, according to independent agricultural economist Fanie Brink.

On the one hand, the panel must provide certain perspectives and models of land policy to the committee within the context of the sustained inequality in land ownership in the country and in the light of unsatisfactory land and agricultural reform in recent years.

On the other hand, the panel must make proposals to implement a fair land reform process that will increase agricultural production at the same time, promote economic growth and protect food security.
Brink says the task involves specific agricultural and scientific objectives and principles for maintaining sustainable commercial production, food security and the contribution of the agricultural industry to economic growth.

"The main objectives that are the prerequisites for a healthy and growing agricultural industry are, firstly, the promotion of the profitability and the sustainability of commercial agricultural production based on acceptable scientific and economic principles to ensure the financial survival of agricultural producers," explains Brink.

"Secondly, the support and promotion of the agricultural industry by addressing the threats posed by international and local political and economic developments and the exploitation of the opportunities generated by new technological and economic developments to ensure food security for the country.

"Thirdly, the establishment of a political and economic policy environment within which agriculture must be able to make a greater contribution to economic growth by improving the profitability of the industry."

The specific agricultural and scientific principles which are based on the optimum and profitability of production because food security can only be sustainable if agricultural resources are used efficiently and food production is profitable, in Brink's opinion.

"The profitability of commercial agricultural production is firstly determined by the prices that producers pay for their inputs against the prices that they receive for their products, and secondly, by the efficiency with which the inputs can be converted into outputs and which must be improved by the application of new technological developments," he adds.

"Any other policy or model to implement land reform which is not based on these basic objectives and principles, for instance, those specifically proposed by the National Development Plan to plunge small black subsistence farmers on small pieces of land in a poverty trap, will destroy agriculture and food security. Therefore, the provision of funds to develop more black commercial producers as announced by the president should be welcomed."

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