The land debate will have an impact on agriculture, since it will determine businesspeople’s investment decisions, said Dawie Maree, head of communication and marketing at FNB Agribusiness.
Earlier this year, Dimakatso Sekhoto, founder of GrowthShoot, said that one of the challenges for young people to entering the agricultural sector is the lack of ownership of land.
“Access to land is still an issue for many young farmers. If you don’t come from a farming background, it’s very unlikely that you will have access to land. Lack of capital, to be able to buy the farm whether it’s through government, the processes are torturous to say the least,” said Sekhoto, who is also the managing director of Makolobane Farmers Enterprises, as well as a member of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa.
Many are hopeful that through land expropriation farmers, especially the youth, will get access to their own land. There are, however, ongoing challenges around land expropriation.
In July it was reported that land expropriation, and policy uncertainty are some of the stumbling blocks that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s special economic envoys have to navigate when trying to coax foreign investors to plough money into the South African economy.
Several public hearings were held during 2018 to discuss the land issue and concerns around it. Some of the concerns from white farmers and the Democratic Alliance, are about the economy, food security and general property rights, according to the Daily Maverick.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on 16 December 2018 in Umtata at the official Reconciliation Day commemoration that for South Africa to strive for equality there needs to be expropriation of land without compensation, reported Eyewitness News.
“Far from being a measure that will fuel tensions or set race relations back, accelerated land reform has the potential to improve goodwill between the people of our country,” he said, adding that the land issue must be resolved.
Maree said it is not only big commercial farmers that are impacted by the land issue debate, but rather the impact is more on the SME, because the family farms. “They cannot necessarily absorb all the costs and other impacts of land reform and will therefore be under pressure.
“That being said, it is also interesting that it is this tier of the sector that appreciates the need for transformation. The land issue needs to be clarified as soon as possible in order for investors to re-invest in agriculture and build our production capacity.”
Maree said that we must also take into consideration that it’s not only the land issue that impact agriculture but also other factors such as, low commodity prices and very important – the weather/climate.
He also believes that the current trends impacting agriculture is definitely one of doing more with less. “We need to optimise production in order to produce more food, feed and fibre with less resources,” Maree said. “And this will definitely be the driving force for the foreseeable future.”
Maree said that increasing use of technology and big data will continue through 2019. “Technology is becoming cheaper and will assist SMEs more and more going forward.”