NGO says it is crucial that a fund is created to finance transaction advisory and other post-settlement support services to attract private investment into the programme.
Rushing land reform for political expediency will cause the process to stall, a land development funding and investment leader has warned.
Land reform topped discussions at the African Agri Investment Indaba held in Cape Town, attended by more than 700 delegates, including bankers financiers, investors, project owners, developers and commercial farmers, as well as the agro and food processing industry.
The three-day meeting also deliberated on disruptions in agriculture, trade wars and African Continental Free Trade (ACFTA).
Peter Setou, chief executive of the Vumelana Advisory Fund, a nonprofit organisation that helps beneficiaries of the land reform programme to achieve profitability and link them up with investors, said returning land without access to other factors required to make the land productive, left beneficiaries stranded and projects failing.
“It is crucial that a fund is created to finance transaction advisory and other post-settlement support services to attract private investment into the land reform programme.
“This could have a significant impact on boosting trade and investment since some of the restored land is premium agricultural land,” Setou said.
SA was grappling with its land reform programme while other countries on the continent were yet to finalise land reform.
He said there could be lessons from failures by different countries to drive partnership-driven land reform.
“From the different experiences of our neighbouring countries, we have seen how land reform has caused some disruptions in agriculture production.
Any land reform approach must be pragmatic.
It’s unfortunate that a lot of what we have seen across the region has brought disruptions to food security and affected agricultural productivity, as beneficiaries in most cases are not financially supported to drive commercial farming,” Setou said.
In South Africa, over 8 million hectares of land has been transferred to beneficiaries of land reform, but the redistribution programme had not lived up to expectation as much of the land redistributed fell into disuse, resulting in a failure of projects and the shedding of jobs.
He challenged people to grab the opportunities to be presented by the newly established ACFTA.
While the signing of the ACF-TA was timely, he cautioned that signatories should avoid the pitfalls that have beset similar trade agreements.
“If we can follow through with its implementation, it can go a long way towards grow-ing African economies that can thrive.”
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