MPs back Didiza for releasing      700 000 hectares of land to emerging farmers, Newsline

Cape Town – MPs have backed the decision by Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Thoko Didiza to release 700 000 hectares of state land to emerging farmers.

Didiza made the announcement on Thursday that they had identified 700 00ha of state land across the country, which equate to 896 farms for the land reform programme.

Chairperson of the portfolio committee on agriculture, rural development and land reform Mandla Mandela said on Friday this announcement will help a number of emerging farmers in the country.

“We are 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 lifeline 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,” said Mandela.

In her address, Didiza said the 700 000ha of state land was in seven of the nine provinces, excluding Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Mandela called on all those who qualify to apply for the programme to urgently do so. He said this was an opportunity for those who want to get into the sector to join it.

“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,” he said.

In her briefing, Didiza said in the North West there were 300 000ha followed by Limpopo where she will release 121 000ha of land to emerging farmers. She said in the Eastern Cape, 43 000ha will be released followed by Mpumalanga with 40 000ha.

In the Northern Cape, 12 000ha has been identified, followed by the Free State where with 8 300ha and in KwaZulu-Natal, 3 600ha of state land will be released to emerging farmers.

Didiza also said the department will enter into 30-year leases with the emerging farmers with an option to buy.

She said they will prioritise the youth, people with disabilities and women for this programme. | Political Bureau