President Cyril Ramaphosa says the proposal of land expropriation without compensation to drive land redistribution has ignited a vigorous and welcomed debate.
“It has required that we confront the injustices of the past. It means that we must expand the basket of agricultural support services available to both established and emerging farmers.”
President Ramaphosa was addressing the African Farmers Association of South Africa (AFASA) Agribusiness Transformation Conference gala dinner on Monday evening, in Kempton Park, Gauteng.
The President said the country’s land must be shared among those who wish to work it, and those who wish to work it must be given the support and encouragement to be successful.
“This is necessary to correct a past wrong. It is also necessary to ensure a fair and prosperous future for all,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President said there has never been a time since the advent of democracy nearly 25 years ago that the country been so engaged in a public conversation around land reform.
This includes a programme of accelerated land reform, which government has embarked on. The programme aims to redistribute more land at a faster pace to black South Africans to ensure security of tenure. It is envisaged that this will change the distorted patterns of development both in cities and the countryside.
Opening up markets for emerging farmers
President Ramaphosa stressed the need for government to ensure it uses its procurement power to open up markets for emerging farmers. He said through government’s engagements with groupings like AFASA, “we must define what other measures we must take to create a conducive and favourable environment for black farmers to thrive”.
“In all this, we are guided by the need to increase agricultural production, unlock the economic potential of our land, stimulate economic growth, create jobs and ensure food security. Through accelerated land redistribution, and with the necessary support from the State, more and more black farmers will emerge, unlocking the economic potential both of land and of people.
“We must work together as a nation to make our land reform programme a success. This is the time for South Africans to find each other, not fight each other. Black and white farmers must together, and working with government, build a better future not just in the agrarian economy but in society at large.
“We are convinced that ensuring an equitable distribution of land is at the heart of creating a united and cohesive nation,” President Ramaphosa said.
During the event, the President also presented Presidential Awards to agri-pioneers and persons who have made outstanding contribution to agricultural transformation and rural development.
Fourth Industrial Revolution
AFASA President, Dr. Vuyo Mahlati, said the focus of the conference was to get farmers ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as they were determined not to miss on this colossal development wave.
Mahlati used the platform to outline farmers’ pressing needs.
“When we talk about the stimulus package, ours has to be a comprehensive one, which includes land, water and energy. The issue of getting land that has no water is critical.
She said AFASA was excited when Energy Minister Jeff Radebe agreed to let AFASA establish an energy desk because they encounter serious problems when farmers get land without electricity.
Producer Support Policy
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said his department has taken the initiative to ensure there is good synergy between the department and farmers through the Producer Support Policy.
“As Minister, I have approved the gazetting of this policy to [get] comments on the policy. I urge AFASA to actively participate and cooperate during the stakeholder consultations.
“The department, with Stats SA, is also working on a project to ensure that we identify and compile a list of all farm owners. I request AFASA to be part of the process by requesting their members to participate and cooperate during the process of farmer registration,” Zokwana said.
AFASA is a formal structure that represent the interests of developing farmers countrywide.
The three-day conference, which started on Sunday, takes place under the theme ‘Reorganise, Sustain and Industrialise’.