State to move fast on Land Bill – MINISTER

Cape Town – The regulation of land holdings bill should be processed by parliament and signed into law this year which will place a maximum ceiling on agricultural land holdings for both legal and natural persons, Minister of Rural Development and Land Affairs Gugile Nkwinti said at a briefing at parliament on Tuesday.

Nkwinti said the government’s 50/50 policy framework – where workers would take ownership of half of farms – would be implemented “immediately”. Government has received a number of proposals from commercial farmers and would pilot at least 50 projects “during this term”, he told journalists.

He repeated the announcement in President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation speech that future ownership of agricultural land by foreign nationals would be prohibited.

He emphasised that this policy would “not apply to residential property”. This was an important addition to the debate about land capping, as the president did not mention that it would be restricted to agricultural land.

“To revitalise agriculture, government will progressively establish agri-parks in all 53 district municipalities. However, during the 2015/16 financial year, government will prioritise the 27 poorest district municipalities.”

These would be fully fledged agro-hubs that would offer all services along the various commodity value chains. This “one district, one agri-park” approach would include the selection and training of smallholder farmers.

Donwald Pressly