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Blacks own only 1% of farms in Western Cape- South Africa

The Western Cape has the most lucrative agricultural economy in South Africa, but has not been able to transform in order to allow equitable black participation.

This is according to the African Farmers Association of South Africa (Afasa), which recently held its conference focused on the transformation of the sector.


Government and black people cannot afford to purchase land in the province, as prices are the highest in the country, according to Afasa.

“With the understanding that black people own only 1% of agricultural land in the Western Cape and that the entire value chain of the sector is white-owned, it then becomes prudent for us to begin discussing land ceiling. All the best agricultural land and water is owned by white people. Therefore, it is impossible to change the current ownership of the economy if land ceiling is not introduced.”

The association has proposed, among others, that land given to beneficiaries who have not farmed it for the past five years as part of the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development, be expropriated.

Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform had set aside enough of a budget to purchase three farms in the Western Cape this year, but the slow pace of reform had continued.

Winde said while there was no reliable data regarding race and land ownership in South Africa, data across various studies had shown that nationally most of the private land was still owned by white people.

“Land reform has been slow. According to data presented in the latest Bureau of Food and Agricultural Policy report, of the 78million hectares of farm land in South Africa just 10% has been allocated to beneficiaries via redistribution or restitution since 1994. A further 3.7% of land formed part of claims where communities settled for financial compensation instead. This is slow-going.

“The Department of Agriculture's role in land reform in the Western Cape is to provide support and assistance to beneficiaries of the national government's land reform processes.

“We do this through what is called the Commodity Approach, where we partner with the commodity organisations to ensure that beneficiaries are supported through mentorship, receiving technical training and advice,” Winde said.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform said Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane had noted the resolutions of the Afasa conference. “These concerns will be addressed by the minister in due course. A way forward will be discussed and solutions crafted for implementation within the current programmes, policies and legislation,” the department said.


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