Agriculture Committee welcomes the release of Land for Agricultural use

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development welcomed the announcement on Friday 2nd October by the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Ms Thoko Didiza, on the release of state land for land reform purposes. 
 
President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his State of the Nation Address this year, informed us that around 700 000 hectares of state land will be released for agricultural production which will be prioritised for youth, women and people with disabilities and people who have been farming on communal land. The President also spoke about the new beneficiary selection policy which includes compulsory training for potential beneficiaries before land can be allocated to them. This training includes training on the respective commodity, financial training and enterprise development. 
 
The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, said: “We are indeed excited that new opportunities are arising during this very difficult period of the Covid-19 pandemic and that our people who have been disadvantaged are now being given a life line to grow in this sector, many of whom have already been working on farms for decades. In this light we want to acknowledge the government, which has made vacant and under-utilised land available in seven provinces. 
 
“The agriculture and agri-industries value chain holds immense potential for addressing poverty, food security and job creation. Government has done well to link land reallocation to skills transfer, training and entrepreneurial development.”
 
We urge all eligible and potential applicants to look out for the advertisements and apply. There is an adjudication and selection process which will be followed, starting at the district level with the District Beneficiary Screening Committee (DBSC) which will screen and recommend the successful applicants to the Provincial Technical Committee. In turn, the Provincial Technical Committee will evaluate and review the DBSC’s recommendations and submit their recommendations to the National Selection and Approval Committee which will consider and approve the applications. 
 
As the Portfolio Committee for Agriculture and Land Reform, we will be monitoring this process closely and will await updates from the department during the various stages of the process. The committee will also monitor the appeals that reach the Land Allocation Appeals Committee. 
 
One of the worrying factors for the committee was the uncertainty around the allocation of farms through the Pro Active Land Acquisition programme without formal approval from the department. The land inquiry will look at how individuals and communities currently occupying the land received access to it, and the purpose it is being utilised for.

The committee is encouraged that a multi-departmental approach will be undertaken to assess the situations where land has been used for the settlement of communities, and will provide an indicator for future potential human settlements.