Similarly, the private sector must play a role in agricultural land reform and projects emanating from the process.
Two experts say planning for increased urbanisation must be a key element in South Africa’s overall land policy.
They also said the government must work with farmers to establish mentorship partnerships that will benefit land reform beneficiaries and be consistent in land reform funding.
In a joint paper released by the Centre for Development and Enterprise, in which they critiqued the 2019 presidential advisory panel on land reform report, William Beinart and Peter Delius, emeritus professors at Oxford University and Wits University respectively, say the government must not undermine commercial agriculture.
Instead it must work with the farmers, and form partnerships that will incorporate the government.
Similarly, the private sector must play a role in agricultural land reform and projects emanating from the process while the state’s finances was essential to help to leverage this. The state funding, they said, should be offered on a consistent and where necessary long-term basis.
They suggested the strengthening of existing institutions, with improved training and funding so that they can implement land reform and a gradual transfer of land to those who are beneficiaries.
The experts also highlighted the significance of partnerships and mentorship in the process. They said gone are the days where organised large-scale agriculture was suspicious of land reform.
Instead the farmers had increasingly put their weight behind projects and schemes.
“It is possible to enhance opportunities for commercial agriculture at the same time as drawing on skills and capital for land reform,” the paper said.
They named several successful partnerships in the sugar, forestry, wool, dairy, beef, citrus, maize and tomato industries that had absorbed about 80,000 smaller black farmers over the last two decades – though they may not all be active simultaneously.
In their analysis of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform allocation by National Treasury as tabled in parliament last February, Beinart said they were concerned about non-prioritisation of land reform funding by government.
But the experts warned against the policy uncertainty caused by the government’s continually shifting the paradigms – reopening of restitution and the expropriation without compensation.
They argued that this was not conducive to substantial long-term investment and job creation.
The allocation for the restitution and land reform programmes was set to decrease from R6.5 billion in 2019-20 to R5.9 billion in 2020-21, and increase to R6.2 billion in 2021-22.
The breakdown of expenditure by function in the Budget Review puts all spending on land, agriculture and rural development (including R8 billion for the separate department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries) at some R30.7 billion in 2020-21, rising slightly to R32.8 billion in 2021-22.
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