Con­ver­sa­tions with lead­ers

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Ru­ral Devel­op­ment and Land Re­form Min­is­ter Gugile Nk­winti talks of the ma­jor pro­grammes to bring dig­nity to the ru­ral poor, rekin­dle the class of black smallscale farm­ers, and fight poverty

The chal­lenge of poverty is at its most se­vere in the ru­ral ar­eas.The Depart­ment of Ru­ral Devel­op­ment and Land Re­form, headed by Min­is­ter Gugile Nk­winti, has ma­jor pro­grammes in place to bring dig­nity to the ru­ral poor, rekin­dle the class of black small-scale

farm­ers, and fight the scourge of poverty.

The call in this year's Man­dela Month is Ac­tion Against Poverty.The triple chal­lenges of poverty, unem­ploy­ment and in­equal­ity need to be fought across the coun­try, but they are at their most in­tran­si­gent in our ru­ral ar­eas.

Gov­ern­ment's devel­op­men­tal work in at­tack­ing poverty and ig­nit­ing eco­nomic growth is the over­rid­ing mis­sion of the Depart­ment of Ru­ral Devel­op­ment and Land Re­form (DRDLR), headed by Min­is­ter Gugile Nk­winti.

“We must bring dig­nity to peo­ple liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas,” he says. “We must rekin­dle the class of black small farm­ers.We must fight the scourge of poverty.

“South Africa is a coun­try com­prised of the de­vel­oped and un­der­ev­el­oped. Turn­ing around the ru­ral ar­eas is a chance for us to de­velop.”

Ru­ral devel­op­ment is im­pos­si­ble with­out land re­form, and land re­form can only suc­ceed with ru­ral devel­op­ment.The depart­ment has an ar­se­nal of prag­matic ini­tia­tives to achieve both. These in­clude the One Hectare, One House­hold land pro­gramme, the devel­op­ment of a net­work of Agri-Parks, and the Strength­en­ing the Rel­a­tive Rights of Peo­ple Work­ing the Land, pop­u­larly known as the 50-50 strat­egy.

The Na­tional Devel­op­ment Plan's vi­sion is for an “in­te­grated and in­clu­sive ru­ral econ­omy”, achieved through “suc­cess­ful land re­form, in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment, job cre­ation and poverty al­le­vi­a­tion”. Key to this is ru­ral eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion and the growth of the small­holder farmer sec­tor.

One House­hold, One Hectare

South Africa is a food-in­se­cure coun­try, where 6 per cent face daily hunger and 30 per cent – al­most a third – have gone hun­gry in the last 30 days.Yet sta­tis­tics show a 17.4 per cent drop in agri­cul­tural out­put, and only 18.3 per cent of South Africans are in­volved in any kind of agri­cul­ture.

The One House­hold, One Hectare pro­gramme aims to bring more peo­ple into farm­ing while boost­ing ru­ral liveli­hoods and curb­ing food in­se­cu­rity.

“The pur­pose is to cre­ate ru­ral small­holder pro­duc­ers at house­hold level to en­sure food se­cu­rity and re­duce poverty, cre­ate sus­tain­able em­ploy­ment, broaden the skills base and sup­port the Agri-Parks pro­gramme,” Min­is­ter Nk­winti says.

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­is­ter, the hectare of land for each ben­e­fi­ciary house­hold will be ac­quired from state-owned farms, proac­tive land ac­qui­si­tion and com­mu­nal land. Land ac­quired by the state will be sur­veyed by the Sur­veyor-Gen­eral, land use plans will be for­mu­lated, and a no­tar­ial ti­tle deed will be is­sued to each house­hold.

Any sur­plus land left over af­ter each house­hold is al­lo­cated their one hectare will be com­mu­nally owned and set aside for col­lec­tive use – graz­ing, wa­ter and en­ergy needs, devel­op­ment of pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture and en­ter­prise devel­op­ment. House­holds will be sup­ported

“The work­ers and the farmer be­come equal part­ners. It is an ex­am­ple of a good

sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship be­tween com­mer­cial and

emerg­ing farm­ers.”

to pro­duce for con­sump­tion needs and or­gan­ised into pri­mary co­op­er­a­tives linked to the Agri-Parks ini­tia­tive.

“Each ben­e­fi­ciary will re­ceive a cer­tifi­cate to be used as col­lat­eral if they want the bank to as­sist them,” the Min­is­ter says. “The land or the cer­tifi­cate can­not be sold be­cause the land be­longs to the state.”

Since 2015 the pro­gramme has been im­ple­mented in 158 sites across the coun­try, ben­e­fit­ting 5 734 house­holds. Min­is­ter Nk­winti re­cently launched sites to the value of R30.4 mil­lion, for 689 house­holds, in the East­ern Cape, KWAZULU-NA­TAL and Mpumalanga.

Agri-Parks: in­fra­struc­ture for small­holder farm­ers

The DRDLR's grow­ing net­work of Agri-Parks are im­por­tant ve­hi­cles in im­ple­ment­ing the Na­tional Devel­op­ment Plan's strat­egy of sup­port­ing small-scale farm­ing, de­vel­op­ing ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture and stim­u­lat­ing agro-pro­cess­ing.

“The es­tab­lish­ment of Agri-Parks in all 44 district mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in South Africa is set to trans­form the ru­ral econ­omy by cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment and re­vi­tal­is­ing the agri­cul­ture and agro-pro­cess­ing value chain,” says Min­is­ter Nk­winti .

Agri-Parks pro­vide pro­duc­tion, agro-pro­cess­ing, lo­gis­tics and mar­ket­ing ser­vices, as well as train­ing and agri­cul­tural ex­ten­sion ser­vices, to small­holder farm­ers.

“As a net­work it en­ables a mar­ket-driven in­te­gra­tion of agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Min­is­ter Nk­winti says Agri-Parks are a strate­gic in­ter­ven­tion that will kick-start growth in re­gions lack­ing es­sen­tial agri­cul­tural in­fra­struc­ture such as mar­kets for the sale of pro­duce and live­stock.


Three of the planned 44 Agri-Parks are al­ready up and run­ning.

“These are the Ncora Agri-Park in the East­ern Cape, Spring­bok­pan in the North West and the We­stonaria AGRIPARK on the West Rand. There are cur­rently 11 Agri-Hubs in the 44 dis­tricts where con­struc­tion is tak­ing place.”

The Agri-Hub is one of the three core com­po­nents of each Agri-Park. The other two are the Farmer Pro­duc­tion Sup­port Unit, and the Ru­ral-Ur­ban Mar­ket Cen­tre.

In Ncora fenc­ing and ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems are in place, and two dairies are op­er­a­tional, Min­is­ter Nk­winti says.

“The milk­ing par­lour milks 1 800 cows twice a day at each dairy. In ad­di­tion, the farm­ers have mo­bilised fund­ing from the Jobs Fund for the silo, mill and stor­age fa­cil­i­ties.”

A milk-pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity and re­tail out­let to sell the milk are un­der con­struc­tion.

The projects at Ncora sup­port 10 pri­mary co­op­er­a­tives, and one sec­ondary co­op­er­a­tive. Each pri­mary co­op­er­a­tive is made up of an av­er­age of 100 farm­ers.

In the Free State, the Spring­fontein Agri-Hub in the Xhariep district is be­ing de­vel­oped and the fenc­ing and wa­ter con­nec­tions are com­plete.

“We are work­ing with the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs, the district and the Free State gov­ern­ment on the es­tab­lish­ment of a game abat­toir in the Agri-Hub in the com­ing year,” Min­is­ter Nk­winti says.

The We­stonaria Agri-Hub in Gaut­eng has a state-of-theart ver­ti­cal hy­dro­ponic tun­nel as well as a pack house and train­ing fa­cil­ity.

There is cur­rently one en­ter­prise and one co­opera--

farm­ing in the 20 avail­able tun­nels on the site.The co­op­er­a­tive also in­cludes farm­ers with dis­abil­i­ties.The depart­ment will mo­bilise an­other 300 farm­ers in the area in the com­ing fi­nan­cial year.

In Bush­buck­ridge, Mpumalanga, the depart­ment has built a pack house and cold stor­age fa­cil­ity. Both will open in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year, sup­port­ing 2 000 lo­cal farm­ers.

“In Dr JS Moroka mu­nic­i­pal­ity, within the Nkan­gala district mu­nic­i­pal­ity, a fresh pro­duce mar­ket is com­plete and will be­come fully op­er­a­tional in the 2017/18 fi­nan­cial year. A to­tal of 1 150 farm­ers will sup­ply the fresh pro­duce mar­ket,” the Min­is­ter says.

“In Ceres in the Western Cape we have com­pleted the up­grade of the roads and elec­tric­ity sup­ply. We have also re­cently pur­chased an abat­toir, which will give lo­cal farm­ers value-ad­ding fa­cil­i­ties and ac­cess to new mar­kets.”

Pro­fes­sional sup­port

To en­sure Agri-Parks are sus­tain­able over the long term, Min­is­ter Nk­winti says, the DRDLR es­tab­lished District AgriParks Man­age­ment Coun­cils in 2015 to man­age each park.

The DAMCs are sup­ported by teams of pro­fes­sion­als, se­lected in trans­par­ent and com­pet­i­tive pro­cesses.

“The Na­tional Agri-Parks Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil has also been set up to pro­vide strate­gic sup­port and ser­vice in an ad­vi­sory ca­pac­ity to the Clus­ter of Min­istries in the Eco­nomic Sec­tors, Em­ploy­ment and In­fra­struc­ture Devel­op­ment,” the Min­is­ter says.

“This struc­ture is to en­sure qual­ity con­trol is in place with re­spect to prod­ucts, health and safety con­di­tions in pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing sites and es­tab­lish mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties, both do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

Turn­ing work­ers into farm­ers

A key land re­form and ru­ral devel­op­ment strat­egy is to make farm­ers of peo­ple al­ready work­ing the land.

The DRDLR's Strength­en­ing the Rel­a­tive Rights of Peo­ple Work­ing the Land pro­gramme, also known as the 50-50 land pol­icy, was an­nounced dur­ing the State of the Na­tion Ad­dress by the Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, who called for the pi­lot­ing of 50 projects by 2019.

Un­der the pro­gramme, the state pur­chases a stake in an agri­cul­tural en­ter­prise on be­half of the farm­work­ers liv­ing and work­ing on the farm.

“This is a model of in­clu­sive agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment,” says Min­is­ter Nk­winti.

“The work­ers and their former em­ployer, the farmer, be­come equal part­ners in the farm­ing en­ter­prise. It is an ex­am­ple of a good sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship be­tween com­mer­cial and emerg­ing farm­ers.”

Broad-based black eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment is key to boost­ing the ru­ral econ­omy.

“The depart­ment has signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with the Na­tional Em­pow­er­ment Fund to be­come the im­ple­ment­ing agent for the pro­gramme.”

“About 20 projects have been ap­proved, of which 15 have been im­ple­mented and trans­ferred,” the Min­is­ter says.“Of the 15, four farms were trans­ferred to the state in the year end­ing March 2016.They amount to just over 2 600 hectares, at a cost of R36 mil­lion.”

A fur­ther 606 farm­work­ers have ben­e­fited from the ac­qui­si­tion of 11 303 hectares at a cost of R325 mil­lion.

“The ac­qui­si­tion of eq­uity by farm­work­ers must be seen to be a fun­da­men­tal game-changer in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor,” Min­is­ter Nk­winti says.

“It in­tro­duces co-man­age­ment of the farm based on rel­a­tive eq­uity-hold­ings and the ca­pac­ity of each par­tic­i­pant in pro­duc­tion and man­age­ment of the agri­cul­tural en­ter­prise.”

More than this, “farm­work­ers and dwellers will no longer have rea­son to fear the scep­tre of evic­tions be­cause land ten­ure will have been se­cured.”

No­luthando Motswai and Mary Alexan­der

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