Land Reform Imperils Food Security 

 The article on land reform by Nhlanhla Mndaweni (Mercury, January 3) is deeply flawed because it ignores three key issues: food security, the utter failure of redistributed farms and the fact that most land claim beneficiaries are not interested in farming.

Boasting that 1,2 million hectares of land have been transferred to land claimants and beneficiaries while the state has acquired farms totaling a further 300,000 hectares, Mndaweni is curiously silent on the productivity of those lands. The reality is that 90% of farms redistributed have failed and reverted to subsistence farming or to becoming squatter camps. (See: RW Johnson, How long can South Africa survive, p. 171).

The aim of “equitable distribution of land ownership,” therefore is a misnomer and a no-brainer. Previously self-sufficient in food, South Africa now imports much of its food as a result of the progressive marginalisation of food-producing commercial farmers. Ideologically drive land reform is imperilling food security.

Writing in Business Report on May 27, 2016, John Kane-Berman of the Institute of Race Relations quoted Land Reform minister Nkwinti as stating that 92% of land restitution beneficiaries opted for financial compensation rather than land. Gwede Mantashe, ANC Secretary-General, was quoted as concurring with the views of the Land Bank that young people are not interested in farming.

Against that background, Mndaweni’s enthusiastic attempt to promote further distribution of land is dangerously misguided. Not only should the security of land tenure be assured – so our remaining productive farmers can get on with feeding us without the threat of losing their farms – but as is stated on the IFP’s policy website, “food farming land should be allocated to farmers with proven skills.

Published in The Mercury

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