The final conclusion of a land debate presented by the Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (NERPO) in Johannesburg recently, is that changing the Constitution would not necessarily be the golden key that unlocks more property rights for black farmers. In the end, it is how these policies are implemented that makes the difference.

NERPO hosted the debate on land reform with its key stakeholders. The panellists included Prof. Shadrack Gutto, emeritus director for the Centre for African Renaissance Studies at UNISA, Dr. Vuyo Mahlati, president of Afasa and Wandile Sihlobo, head of Agribusiness Department, AgBiz.

The day’s discussions were concluded and summarised by Dr. Langa Simela of ABSA Agribusiness and also an executive director of NERPO.

The position of NERPO is that land reform must take place, but the question is how it should be done. The following points where highlighted:

  1. What are the instruments available or necessary to provide black farmers access to land?
  2. Where do we stand on the issue of communal land? How is this managed; how are farmers empowered? If black and emerging commercial farmers had title deeds and land rights, they would have access to financial support, which would provide them with an opportunity to be just as successful as the white and established commercial farmers.
  3. State owned land and land owned by state owned enterprises are a possible source of land that could be productive. What are the possibilities and why has this not been addressed?
  4. How are we preparing farmers to utilise land once they get it? Are they ready to produce? At the core the goal must be food security.
  5. Instead of just financing the process of buying and selling land, financial support should be targeted at production and reforming the value chain.
  6. Where is the land coming from and who are the beneficiaries? The state has bought land before. How productive is this land already?
  7. Pricing of land – is it fair and justified in terms of productivity and the Constitution?
  8. The process around property rights, title deeds and access to finance is a fundamental issue that should be addressed with a practical and food security mindset. – SAPPO press release