For Immediate release
20 May 2017
AFASA calls for DRDLR budget increase to allow more land purchases
The African Farmers Association of South Africa (AFASA) welcomes and commends the good work and achievements, as well as the future plans presented in the Budget Vote Speeches tabled by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), Mr Gugile Nkwinti and both his deputies on Friday.
Minister Nkwinti and his deputies, Deputy Ministers, Hon Candith Mashego-Dlamini and Hon Mcebisi Skwatsha presented their 2017 DRDLR Budget Vote speeches where they highlighted significant achievements from goals set in the last financial year especially with regards to progress made in AgriParks, Strengthening the Relative Rights of People of People Working the Land (50/50), One-Household-One Hectare, and other policies of the DRDLR.
Mr Aggrey Mahanjana, AFASA Secretary General said these are achievements worth celebrating by the farming community. “Any effort made in adding value and improving the life of smallholder farmers should be welcomed,” said Mr Mahanjana.
AFASA however feel that although these achievements were a reason to celebrate, several issues are still a concern to the organization. “The slow pace of the land redistribution still remain a big problem to struggling smallholder farmers who remain frustrated and landless,” said Mr Mahanjana. He said AFASA members who sits in District Land Committees are frustrated by the slow pace in which the land purchasing process is moving due to insufficient budgets. “Looking at the current budget in comparison with the 2016/17, one does not gain any confidence that things will improve. The increase is insignificant, if any at all. We would like to call on government to allocate more funds to the department to allow more land purchases,” stresses Mr Mahanjana. “We cannot talk about radical transformation in the agricultural sector without addressing the land issue. It will be difficult if not impossible, to achieve true reconciliation until the land issue is addressed.”
AFASA remain worried as it recalls the statement made by President Jacob Zuma in the State of Nation Address earlier this year that only eight million hectares, 9.8% of the 82 million hectares, of arable land in South Africa have been transferred to black people.
What also worries AFASA is the discontinuing of the Recapitalisation and Development Programme (RECAP). The organisation views this as a pending crisis, as it feels the shutting down of RECAP will threaten the survival of land reform beneficiaries, as through RECAP, government invested in infrastructure and equipment needed for these farms, as well as brought expertise and technical assistance through mentorship programmes. AFASA still has to seek clarity from both DRDLR and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on what the plan will be going forward. “We will have to engage both the ministers to find out whether a contingency plan to continue supporting land reform beneficiaries is in place. If not, we can expect a disastrous future for smallholder land reform beneficiaries who have pinned their hopes on the RECAP programme,” concluded Mr Mahanjana. End
Mr Aggrey Mahanjana
Secretary General/Managing Director
African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA)
Tel: +27 (0)12 492 1383
Cell: +27 (0)82 556 7297 or +27 (0)84 484 4049