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Rural households get a helping hand

Written by Amukelani Chauke
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform will intensify the roll out of an initiative that will help alleviate poverty and benefit more than 10 000 rural households in the coming year.

Delivering the department’s Budget Vote in in Parliament recently, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said the aim of the One Household, One Hectare programme is to eradicate poverty and create a class of black smallholder farmers, producers and agro-manufacturers.

As part of the initiative, a one hectare allotment (or community garden) is allocated to every needy household. Households are supported to grow their own produce and organised into primary cooperatives linked to the Agri-parks initiative. The programme targets particularly state-owned and what could at best be described as traditional communal land, the Minister said. “The One Household, One Hectare initiative will be rolled out and aligned to the Agri-parks development programme, thus providing the participant households with a solid outlet for marketing their produce,” he explained. 

The Minister said initially, each one of the 44 Agri-park districts would have five sites on which the One Household One Hectare initiative will be implemented. This would amount to 220 sites in the 2016/17 financial year. “A minimum of 50 households will participate in each site. This will therefore touch the livelihoods of over 10 500 rural households. The department has set aside R100 million for the initial year of implementation through its Recapitalisation and Development Budget,” he said.

The Agri-parks programme

The department is also moving ahead with the next phase of implementation of the Agri-parks programme across 44 district municipalities for food production, design and construction of new infrastructure, added Minister Nkwinti.

He said R2 billion has been set aside for this purpose for the new financial year. “In accelerating the pace of land reform we are allocating land to smallholder farmers and providing protection to vulnerable communities, including farm labourers and people working on farms. “In this regard, an amount of R89 million has been allocated for providing legal and mediation support for land reform beneficiaries to promote security of tenure. An amount of R791 million has been set aside in this financial year for land acquisition in line with this objective.

50/50 Policy Framework

Minister Nkwinti also commended farmers who had voluntarily participated in the department’s programme, which has seen farmers and farm workers splitting the ownership of commercial farms 50-50 between them. “The President had said in the 2013 State of the Nation Address that he was expecting that by the end of this term, by 2019, we would have piloted 50 of the farms… We appreciate the people who have come forward and said we want to form part of this,” he added.

The Minister said as part of the Strengthening Relative Rights of People Working the Land (50/50 Policy Framework), 10 transactions had been finalised, with about 540 beneficiaries, covering 7 642 hectares. More than 50 submissions from farmers and organisations have been received so far. The programme will be accelerated and R500 million has been set aside for this purpose in the new financial year. Minister Nkwinti added that after the re-opening of the second window of opportunity for the lodgement of land claims, 143 720 claims were lodged by 31 March 2016, with 27 696 claims lodged through the mobile lodgement offices.
 

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