Bloemfontein – There will be food shortages if the government’s land reform policy went ahead, Grain SA has warned.
“We have electricity load shedding. Is food shedding next? Will we take turns at eating?” asked Jannie de Villiers, CEO of Grain SA during a media conference at the Nampo show in Bothaville.
“We are not saying no to land reform, but we are looking for plans that can ensure food security in the country. But grain producers say no to minister Gugile Nkwinti’s [Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform] 50:50 land ownership plans.
“These plans fall outside government’s policy spelt out in the NDP,” he said. ”If this plan is implemented, we will not be able to feed the people of South Africa. The 50:50 plan will kill us.”
He said the plan will be detrimental to the poor. “The first need in this country is food, not land.”
According to Grain SA, the 50:50 plan is unconstitutional. “The constitution is not a government policy document – it belongs to all of us. It is supreme to all of us, and that includes government. We expect government to adhere to it,” De Villiers said.
De Villiers said more than 60% of farmland is covered by debt. Some 83% of farmers produce food with production loans. “If the plan is implemented, 83% of farmers won’t be able to produce food.”
He said the grain producers also say no to land ceilings. “The minister has consulted with us about ceilings, but the numbers when it comes to sizes of farms were not discussed.
“If we start putting a 5 000Ha ceiling on grain farmers, it will kill us. For 20 years farmers have not received subsidies. Farmers have equipped themselves to farm on a bigger scale, because scale is the solution to a lack of government support.
“How are the 70% of the population that will live in urban areas by 2030 going to get food with these ceilings?”
The 50:50 proposal involves the government buying half of a farmer’s land and allocate it to their farm workers.
The land ceiling proposal involves ceilings for small-scale commercial farmers being set at 1 000ha, for a medium-scale commercial farm at 2 500ha and a large-scale commercial farm 5 000ha.