Agri-villages for KZN commercial farms

FILE PICTURE: South African cattle farm. Image wikimedia commons.

Labourers and their families living on commercial farms may become a thing of the past should the KwaZulu-Natal government establish “agri-villages” to provide them with better services.

KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu, speaking on the sidelines of a provincial cabinet lekgotla, said the establishment of such villages would bring workers and families from three or four commercial farms into one village. He said the cabinet lekgotla would discuss the adoption of such a policy.

“We think time has come for us to address squarely the issue of communities living on farms. On a farm, a farm would be dotted by 15 households and the one next door dotted by five and another next door by 13,” Mchunu said.

“All these clusters of households across commercial farms make it impossible for government to provide any of the services that are otherwise provided for in other communities.”

It would become more feasible for government to provide education, clinics and even cemeteries, he said.

“It becomes difficult to build a primary school and a secondary for 13 families or for seven families. The same applies to a clinic. The same applies to electricity, water and so on. Simply because they are far apart and there are too few [people].”

He said such villages would have to be established on the land of one of the farms, which the government would need to buy.

Discussion would be held with farmers and rural families and he believed such a policy could bring more stability in rural areas.

Commercial farmers in the uMshwathi local municipality were excited by the idea, he said.

“These were young Afrikaners. I was quite pleased to see there was quite a change in attitude. We said to them we don’t want anybody to disturb you, but as government we also want food production, so that we stop importing.”

He said that certainty was needed in the farming sector, especially on land ownership and land claims.

“If we subject our farmers to an environment that is unstable, no-one will produce anything,” he said.

– Sapa

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