Lack of ownership ‘kills’ land reform

Mimie Jacobs on her farm Roseview, just outside Bloemfontein. PHOTO: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

The fact that emerging farmers are subjected to a lease system that robs them of the opportunity to own land, is hampering productivity.

This is according to DA’s Annette Steyn, shadow minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Leasing farms out instead of giving ownership to farmers holds back their productivity and disables them from accessing loans.

“There are farmers who complain that they are finding it difficult because the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform did not give them titles to the land, or they do not have lease agreements. So they are finding it difficult to get a loan from the bank or even go to get a production loan to help them out,” said Steyn.

She stated that these findings were made during an oversight Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ visit to various projects in the Free State recently.

Mimie Jacobs, a small farmer just outside Bloemfontein, agrees with Steyn. The farmer, who has been producing for four years after having had the state-leased farm for seven years, says that small farmers often struggle to receive funding from the private sector, particularly when they hold leases to land instead of ownership.

However, it is not all doom and gloom, says Jacobs. She says that her lease agreement does allow her to buy the farm in the future. She also encourages other small farmers to become better organised in the business aspect of farming.

“You need to plan your business because farming is a business and you need to treat it with the same principles as you would any other business.

“Government is definitely the major funder of farmers. We read about corruption but fundamentally, when you look at how things have changed, government has made a lot of people multimillionaires by supporting them,” says Jacobs. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele