Farming not the dependable pursuit the land reforms assume
Wandile Sihlobo advocates a dynamic system incorporating public-private partnerships based on sound agronomic principles
On June 6, I published an essay in Business Day which explored the official land reform data and argued that the pace of land reform in South Africa had been fair, especially if progress was measured by the amount of land acquired from white owners and made available to black beneficiaries, including calculated assumptions about private transactions. About 17.5 million hectares have been acquired from white ownership since 1994, equal to 21.2% of the 82.8million hectares of farmland held in freehold. Against that background, I believe that the initial Strengthening the Relative Rights of People Working the Land (50/50) policy and gazetting of the Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill are based on fundamentally flawed assumptions. First, the policies imply that most farms consistently generate positive returns that can be distributed to farmworkers, whereas returns are generally low, at best reaching 6% in a good season. With erratic rainfall, returns have tended to be negati...
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