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Vacant land awarded to emerging farmers

Written by: Dale Hes

Municipal land that was standing empty in Stellenbosch will now be used to produce food and create jobs. Jacobus Henneman (left) and Viktor Roberts (right) from Elsenburg Khoisan Farmers, with Stellenbosch Executive Mayor Gesie van Deventer.

Emerging farmers in the Stellenbosch Local Municipality are looking forward to an exciting future after municipal land, equipped with everything they need to start growing crops, was handed over to them.

Approximately 120 hectares of vacant municipal farming land was transferred to five successful land applicants in November 2019. They were given leases of between nine and 11 years, after which they will have the chance to renew their leases, provided that the land was productively used.

The successful applicants all come from disadvantaged backgrounds, in line with the municipality’s policy on the management of municipal agricultural land.

One of the emerging farmers is Viktor Roberts from Elsenburg. Roberts, who is a member of a co-operative called Elsenburg Khoisan Farmers  is looking forward to maximising the opportunity he has been given.

“We have struggled to access land in the past, so this is a great victory for us. We plan to grow a variety of crops and are grateful to the municipality because this will give the farmers a chance to start earning income,” said Roberts.

He added that the farmers will make sure the land is productive so that their leases can be renewed.

“We want this land to create many jobs, equip members of the community with valuable skills and be a sustainable source of income for years to come.”

To get the farmers ready for turning the land into productive farmland, the municipality is ensuring that vital infrastructure, such as electricity and water systems, is in place. The successful applicants will enjoy a 20 percent discount on relevant municipal tariffs.

Stellenbosch Executive Mayor Gesie van Deventer explained that Stellenbosch’s agricultural land policy focuses on including up-and-coming farmers in the region’s thriving agricultural sector.

“Our goal is to enable emerging farmers to access municipal agricultural land and to ensure the optimal use of every patch of available agricultural land within the Stellenbosch municipal area.”

Van Deventer said that the municipality is providing as much support as possible to the emerging farmers.

“We will also play a facilitating role between the farmers and stakeholders, such as the Department of Agriculture and agricultural groups.”

The next step in the process will be advertising another five pieces of municipal agricultural land in the local media.