The government will soon release under-utilised or vacant land measuring over 500,000 hectares to interested members of the public.
Briefing the media on Thursday, Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza said the move is part of the government’s land reform programme.
896 state-owned farms
The government will advertise 896 state-owned farms over the next two weeks. The adverts will run in local, district and provincial newspapers, websites and local radio stations for a period of one calendar month (15 October to 15 November, 2020).
The farms are in the following provinces (Western Cape and Gauteng have no land to advertise):
- Eastern Cape: 43,000 ha
- Free State: 8,333 ha
- KwaZulu-Natal: 3,684 ha
- Limpopo: 121,567 ha
- Mpumalanga: 40,206 ha
- Northern Cape: 12,224 ha
- North West: 300,000 ha
“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,” Didiza said.
According to Didiza, interested applicants must be South African citizens who are 18 years or older.
The government will give priority to women, youth and people with disabilities, she added. Other criteria include:
- Applicants will have to indicate their current farming area – whether it’s a commonage or communal area.
- Successful applicants must work the land full time for the duration of the contract.
- Applicants must demonstrate capacity and basic resources to work the land.
- The government will be “biased” towards applicants with at least three to five years experience in farming. First-time farmers will however still be considered.
Adjudication and selection process
The adjudication and selection process will begin at the District Beneficiary Screening Committee (DBSC) once the advertisement period closes.
The DBSC will screen applications and interview applicants based on the criteria over a period of two weeks. It will then make recommendations to the Provincial Technical Committee (PTC).
The PTC will take three weeks to evaluate and review the DBSC’s recommendations. It will similarly submit its recommendations to the National Selection and Approval Committee (NSAC).
The NSAC will take three weeks consider all recommendations and approve suitable applications. It will then notify both successful and unsuccessful applicants. Unsuccessful applicants will have a chance to lodge appeals at the Land Allocation Appeals Committee.
“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,” Didiza said.
Beneficiaries will have to meet certain obligations as part of the lease agreement, the Minister said. The first obligation is attending a compulsory training programme.
She further outlined the following terms and conditions:
- The lease agreement will be a legally binding contractual agreement and will not be transferable.
- The beneficiary will not be permitted to sub-lease or sublet the farm or a portion of it.
- The beneficiary has an obligation to maintain all the infrastructure and upkeep of the land allocated to him/her.
- The beneficiary will have to manage, maintain and keep the record of assets received from the state.
- Any investment made by the beneficiary must be recorded, valued and reported to the state.
- 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.
- A credit management system will be put in place to manage debt recovery and management.
For its part, the government will have the following responsibilities:
- Enter into a lease agreement with the beneficiary 30 days after approving the application.
- Ensure that basic infrastructure is in good shape and register the infrastructure and assets on the farm.
- Issue monthly invoices to the beneficiary with payment due date.
- Undertake quarterly inspection visits by the Land Administration Unit to ensure that state infrastructure and assets are well kept.
- Table annual reports on the performance of the lease and productivity of the land to the minister.