Minister Winde Challenges Western Cape Agriculture Sector
Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, yesterday challenged the provincial agriculture sector to organise on a district level and devise plans to speed up land reform.
Winde posed the challenge at a Land Reform Summit hosted by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture in Stellenbosch, which was convened to discuss land reform in the context of the National Development Plan. The NDP has set a target of 20% transfer of agricultural land to previously disadvantaged South Africans by 2030.
Winde gave the sector three months to establish district land reform committees, which will be responsible for identifying land reform opportunities in the immediate area: “After three months my department will come on board to assist the committees with implementation. Speeding up land reform is one of my foremost priorities, and I will put my full weight, as well as that of my department, behind efforts to get viable projects off the ground. I will also lobby the national government to reduce red tape and create an enabling environment for land reform.”
Winde said that since 2009 his department had spent R466 million on 246 land reform and empowerment projects. He urged that a more collaborative and concerted effort was required to fundamentally change the agricultural landscape to reflect a modern and inclusive sector.
Research conducted by the Department of Agriculture revealed that in the Western Cape alone, a minimum amount of R2.16 billion per year over the next 15 years would be needed to achieve the National Development Plan’s land transfer targets. “These figures outline the scope of the challenge we are facing, as well as the clear need for a partnership approach with the private sector. Financial institutions will also have to come to the table.”
Winde called on the Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha, to allocate at least two National Development Plan land reform pilot projects to the Western Cape: “We are eager to support initiatives which will speed up land reform in our region.”
Winde also encouraged the private sector to embark on their own initiatives: “Land reform is a business risk, and failure to address it will have negative impacts on our competitiveness and market access.”
The wide range of delegates in attendance at the summit discussed various models of land reform together with the support mechanisms needed in order to ensure sustainable and successful projects. The outputs of the summit will be taken further by the department. Winde said an independent assessment concluded that 62% of the 246 Western Cape projects are sustainable: “In addition to looking at the ’success factors’ of land reform projects, we need to interrogate the reasons for failure and put plans in place to mitigate them”. Winde urged all players, including local and national governments and agricultural organisations, to work together to escalate the number of land reform projects in our province, we well as improve their rate of success.