State makes available 700 000 ha of agricultural land

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Ms Thoko Didiza, today announced the process to be followed by members of the public in applying for available Agricultural State land as part of the  government contribution to the land reform programme.

The minister announced at a media briefing in Pretoria that in the next two weeks, government will issue advertisement notices of 896 farms measuring 700 000 hectares of underutilised or vacant State.

The available agricultural land is in Eastern Cape (43000 Ha), Free State (8333 Ha), KwaZulu-Natal (3684 Ha), Limpopo (121 567 Ha), Mpumalanga (40 206 Ha), Northern Cape (12 224 Ha), and North West (300 000 Ha).

The minister said that Gauteng and Western Cape have no land to be advertised. She said the advertisement notices will be in the local, district and provincial newspapers, websites and local radio stations. 

Didiza said that application forms will 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. 

The adjudication and selection process
The minister stated that 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. She said this process will take Approximately 2 weeks.

The Provincial Technical Committee (PTC) will evaluate and review the District Committee (DBSC)’s recommendations and submit to the national department for approval. The process will take approximately 3 weeks.

•The National Selection and Approval Committee (NSAC) will consider all recommendations and approve suitable applications. The process will take proximately 3 weeks.

Both the successful and unsuccessful applicants will be informed of the outcome in writing.

Land Allocation Appeal process:
Unsuccessful applicants will have an opportunity to register their appeals to the Land Allocation Appeals Committee.

Land Allocation Enquiry Process:
A land inquiry process will be on-going on State land that is already occupied without formal approval from the department. Such enquiry will assess farms that have been acquired through 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.

Land Administration Unit:
The government offers a 30-year leasehold, with an option to buy. This form of leasehold places certain obligations to the State as the lessor and beneficiaries as the lessees.

Beneficiary responsibilities:
All beneficiaries who have been 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.

Lease Agreement Legal and Compliance matters:
1. The lease agreement signed between the State and the beneficiary will be a legally binding contractual agreement.

2. The Lease agreement will not be transferable under any circumstances.

3. The beneficiary will not be allowed to sub-lease or sublet a portion of land or the whole of the farm under the leasehold between him/her and the State.

4. The beneficiary has an obligation to maintain all the infrastructure and upkeep of the land allocated to him/her.

5. The beneficiary will have to manage, maintain and keep the record of assets received from the State.

6. Any investment made by the beneficiary must be recorded, valued and reported to the State.

7. 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.

8. A credit management system will be put in place to manage debt recovery and management. 

The minister said failure to comply with any of the contractual obligations listed above, the State will consider the option of terminating the lease.

Government Responsibilities 
1. Enter into a lease agreement with the beneficiary, 30 Days after approval of the application.

2. Ensure that basic infrastructure is in good shape and register the infrastructure and assets on the farm.

3. Issue monthly invoices to the beneficiary with payment due date.

4. Undertake quarterly inspection visits by the Land administration unit to ensure that State infrastructure and assets are well kept.

5. Table annual reports on the performance of the lease and productivity of the land to the minister.

Progress to date:
Didiza said that since the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his February 2020 State of the Nation Address, the department has released 135 117 hectares of land to 275 farmers. The breakdown per province is Free State (501 hectares) Gauteng         (929 hectares), KwaZulu-Natal (4 940 hectares), Limpopo (32 170 hectares), Mpumalanga (50 480 hectares), and North West (46 097 hectares). 

The minister said that beneficiaries in terms of demographics are women (160), youth (114) and persons with disabilities (1).

Pro Active Land Acquisition:
Didiza added that through the PLAS program 20 439ha of land have been released to 6 young beneficiaries, 4 of which are female and 2 male. These beneficiaries includes Ms DM Magoba and Mr T K Maripane of Manini Holdings (455 ha), Ms R E Baloyi  (937,5 ha), Ms RM Gaorekwe (8835 ha) and Mr GAP Eiman  (8469,7 ha).

About 360 173 ha was identified through the State Land analysis to be under claim equating to 413 properties.43 670 hectares equating to 60 properties are new order claims, a process which had been interdicted by the constitutional court. The post December 1998 application deadline.

Progress to date:

  • 4 089 hectares equating to 7 properties have already been transferred to beneficiaries of land claims. Research has been concluded on 4558 hectares equating to 10 properties and will be finalized in due course.
  • 117 000 hectares is currently under research for the 2020/21 financial year.
  • 30 823 hectares equating to 46 properties relate to land claims have been settled and yet to be transferred in the current financial year.

Didiza said the remaining hectares will be transferred as soon as the claims are settled.

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