In a bid to manage a waiting list of over 200 000 people waiting to get farms from the government, the Minister of Agriculture has said the government is going to repossess underutilized land and relocate it to other farmers, The Sunday News reports.
The government has reportedly even instructed the beneficiaries of the land reform program to submit mandatory production returns of the production done on their farms by January 2021 in a bid to maximize land utilization and productivity.
The matter came to light after the Minister of Education Dr Anxious Masuku released a statement that states that:
It must be noted that the 18 000 A2 farmers and 360 000 A1 farmers are privileged to have had been given an opportunity to lease land as there are over 200 000 applicants on the provincial waiting list for land.
In preparation for the exciting transformative journey, it has become necessary to invoke the powers under the Agricultural Marketing Authority Act (Chapter 18.24) to cause A2 and A1 farmers to submit mandatory production returns by January 31 2021 on the form obtainable from the Ministry’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit and website as well as the ministry’s offices countrywide.
Agritex officers shall visit farms and submit separate verification reports. The information gathered shall assist the ministry to support Provincial Land Committees in carrying out the new policy guidance on land focusing on prioritization for redistribution of land in categories of multiple land ownership, abandoned farms, derelict farms and underutilised farms.
Masuku said farmers who will fail to submit their returns by 31 January 2021 will lose their farms. He also stated that the government is downsizing some of the farms and farms less that 500 hectares will be spared:
Productive farms exceeding the maximum farm sizes for the respective agro-ecological region shall be exempted for now from downsizing until further guidance. The Ministry’s Monitoring and Evaluation will visit farms for verification. Farmers submitting false information shall risk losing offer letter letters.
Farmers who fail to submit information shall be deemed to be in the categories of multiple land ownership, abandoned farms, derelict farms and underutilized farms and their farms maybe offered to the Provincial Land Committees for consideration for reallocation to deserving candidates on the waiting list.
We envision transforming the 18 000 A2 farmers to become agricultural entrepreneurs and the farms to become enviable business by 2025. We envisage transforming the 360 000 A1 farmers to become viable and formal Small to Medium Enterprises by 2025.
Source: The Sunday Mail