The minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Thoko Didiza, announced the process members of the public are to follow when applying for available agricultural state land. This forms part of the government’s contribution to the land reform programme.
The minister announced that within the next two weeks, government will issue advertisement notices of 896 farms measuring 700 000ha of underutilised or vacant state land in the following provinces:
|Free State||8 333ha|
|Eastern Cape||43 000ha|
|Northern Cape||12 224ha|
|North West||300 000ha|
Gauteng and Western Cape have no state land to be advertised. The advertisement notices will be in the local, district and provincial newspapers, websites, and on local radio stations. Application forms will be made available in the district and provincial offices of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) as well as municipal district offices.
Adjudication and selection process
After the closing date, all applications received will be compiled and captured in a database per district in each province. The District Beneficiary Screening Committee (DBSC) will screen the application, interview against the criteria as set out in the advertisement notice and make recommendations to the Provincial Technical Committee (PTC) for consideration. This is expected to take approximately two weeks.
Following this, the PTC will evaluate and review the DBSC’s recommendations and submit it to the national department for approval. Approximately three weeks has been allocated to this process. Lastly, the National Selection and Approval Committee (NSAC) will consider all recommendations and approve suitable applications. This too is expected to take approximately three weeks. Both successful and unsuccessful applicants will be informed of the outcome in writing.
State land allocation appeal and enquiry process
Unsuccessful applicants will have an opportunity to register their appeals to the Land Allocation Appeals Committee.
A land inquiry process will be ongoing on state land that is already occupied without formal approval from the department. Such enquiry will assess farms that have been acquired through the Pro-Active Land Acquisition (PLAS) programme.
The state land enquiry will investigate and determine how individuals and communities that are currently occupying the land got access to it. The enquiry will also look at how the state land is currently being utilised and whether such use is in accordance with the agricultural practices for the area.
Where such state land has been used for settlement, assessment will be done, together with the Departments of Human Settlements, Water Affairs and Sanitation, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries. Based on the outcome of the assessment and recommendation, a decision will be taken on the future of such occupations.
State land beneficiary responsibilities
The government offers a 30-year leasehold, with an option to buy. This form of leasehold places certain obligations on the state as the lessor and beneficiaries as the lessees.
All beneficiaries who have been allocated state land and signed lease agreements will have to complete training. The training programme will include entry-level training on the commodity of their choice, basic recordkeeping, and basic financial management, as well as enterprise development.
Lease agreement legal and compliance
- The lease agreement signed between the state and the beneficiary will be a legally binding contractual agreement.
- The lease agreement will not be transferable under any circumstances.
- The beneficiary may not sub-lease or sublet a portion of state land or the entire farm under the leasehold between him/her and the state.
- The beneficiary must maintain all the infrastructure and upkeep of the state land allocated to him/her.
- The beneficiary will have to manage, maintain and keep the record of assets received from the state.
- The beneficiary must record, value and report any investment he/she makes to the state.
- Beneficiaries will pay a monthly or annual rental fee per hectare determined by the state, consistent with the value of the land in line with area valuation.
- A credit management system will be implemented to manage debt recovery and management.
- Upon failure to comply with any of the contractual obligations listed above, the state will consider terminating the lease.
- Enter into a lease agreement with the beneficiary, 30 days after approval of the application.
- Ensure that basic infrastructure is in good shape and register the infrastructure and assets on the farm.
- Issue monthly invoices to the beneficiary with payment due date.
- Undertake quarterly inspection visits via the Land Administration Unit to ensure that state infrastructure and assets are well kept.
- Table annual reports on the performance of the lease and productivity of the state land to the minister.
Progress to date
Since the announcement of President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address in February this year, the department has released 135 117ha of state land to 275 farmers. The breakdown per province is as follows:
|North West||46 097ha|
The beneficiaries in terms of demographics are as follows:
Through the PLAS programme 20 439ha of land have been released to six young beneficiaries, four of which are female. – Press release, DALRRD