THE government plans to spend R2,7bn buying more than 320000 ha of agricultural land during the current financial year in a bid to advance its land reform programme, says Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti.
The government aims to redistribute 24,5-million hectares, equivalent to 30% of agricultural land, to black farmers by 2014 — a target it is far from meeting.
The department last year acquired 848 farms totalling 882238 ha, with 10000 ha going to the Cradock biofuels project in the Eastern Cape’s Chris Hani district municipality.
Addressing his constituency in the province’s Kouga municipality at the weekend, Mr Nkwinti said 4428 women and 3756 youths had benefited from the land distributed to new farmers, with priority given to vulnerable groups.
An additional R1,2bn would be used to fund strategic support to 416 new farmers through the rural recapitalisation programme, targeting farms lying fallow due to lack of government support and capital. The programme had so far resuscitated 595 farms in 1807 projects, Mr Nkwinti said.
He said work was also due to start in revitalising eight irrigation schemes in the former homelands. The targeted areas included Ncora and Keiskamma Hoek in the Eastern Cape; Taung in North West; Vaalharts in the Northern Cape; Nkomazi in Mpumalanga; and Tugela Ferry, Nsuze and Bululwane in KwaZulu-Natal.
"We will, also, this financial year, revive the Butterworth abattoir and tannery. This will propel the local communal livestock farmers into the red meat value chain," he said.