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Govt makes agricultural land available in Province


12 224 hectares of government-owned agricultural land in the Northern Cape will be made available as part of the government’s contribution to the land reform programme.

Picture: ANA

A total of 12 224 hectares of government-owned agricultural land in the Northern Cape will be made available as part of the government’s contribution to the land reform programme.

This Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, yesterday announced the process to be followed by South Africans who want to apply for the land.

In a media briefing, Didiza stated that in the next two weeks the government would issue advertisement notices of 896 farms measuring 700 000 hectares of underutilised or vacant state land in the Eastern Cape (43 000 hectares), the Free State (8 333 hectares), KwaZulu-Natal (3 684 hectares), Limpopo (121 567 hectares), Mpumalanga (40 206 hectares), the Northern Cape (12 224 hectares) and the North West (300 000 hectares). Gauteng and the Western Cape have no land to be advertised.

The advertisement notices will be in local, district and provincial newspapers, websites and local radio stations. Application forms will also be made available in the district offices and provincial offices of the Departments of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development as well as municipal district offices.

According to the minister, 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. The PTC will then evaluate and review the DBSC’s recommendations and submit it to the national department for approval.”

Didiza stated that the National Selection and Approval Committee (NSAC) would consider all recommendations and approve suitable applications and both the successful and unsuccessful applicants will be informed of the outcome in writing.

“Unsuccessful applicants will have an opportunity to register their appeals to the Land Allocation Appeals Committee.”

Didiza stated further that a land enquiry process would be on-going on state land that was already occupied without formal approval from the department.

“Such an enquiry will assess farms that have been acquired through the Pro Active Land Acquisition (PLAS) programme. The 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 land is currently being utilised and whether such use is in accordance with the agricultural practices for the area.

“Where such land has been used for settlement, assessment will be done, together with the departments of human settlement and water affairs, environmental, forestry and fisheries. Based on the outcome of the assessment and recommendation, a decision will be taken on the future of such occupations.”

The state-owned land will be offered as a 30-year leasehold, with an option to buy.

“All beneficiaries who are allocated state land and signed lease agreements will be subjected to a compulsory training programme. The training programme will include entry level training on the commodity of their choice, basic record keeping, and basic financial management as well as enterprise development,” Didiza added.

“The lease agreement signed between the state and the beneficiary will be a legally binding contractual agreement. The lease agreement will not be transferable and the beneficiary will not be allowed to sub-lease or sub-let a portion of land or the whole of the farm under the leasehold between him/her and the state.”

The beneficiary will be required to maintain all the infrastructure and upkeep of the land and will have to manage, maintain and keep the record of assets received from the state.

Investments made by the beneficiaries will also need to be recorded, valued and reported 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 put in place to manage debt recovery and management.

“Failure to comply with any of the contractual obligations listed above, the state will consider the option of terminating the lease.”

Meanwhile, the minister further announced that a total of 135 117 hectares had been released to 274 farmers – youth, women and people with disabilities – this year.