Pretoria: The African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA) has applauded government for taking what it calls decisive steps to replace the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ principle with the ‘just and equitable’ principle.
“AFASA applauds the President and government for taking decisive steps to replace the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ principle with the ‘just and equitable’ principle,” said AFASA’s Group Managing Director, Aggrey Mahanjana.
Delivering the State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Thursday, President Zuma announced that government would now pursue the ‘just and equitable’ principle for compensation, as set out in the Constitution instead of the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ principle, which forces the state to pay more for land than the actual value.
Mahanjana said the association, however, would like see the conclusion of the Green Paper on Land Reform policy amendments being fast-tracked.
“It is our view that the matter of decisive, speedy and sustainable land redistribution should be prioritised,” he said.
The association also reaffirmed its position on a land reform programme which ensures that agricultural land is used productively, so as to ensure a food secure and a sustainable agricultural sector.
AFASA also welcomed the President’s progress report on the Infrastructure Development Plans, but pleaded with government to equally prioritise rural infrastructure, such as access or network roads, access to water and electrification of rural farms and communities.
With regard to youth unemployment, Mahanjana said his association would like to challenge government to resuscitate government subsidised production schemes collectively at primary and secondary level, so as to create employment opportunities for the illiterate, semi-skilled and skilled unemployed youth.
“The association believes that employment incentives alone will not solve the problem of youth unemployment as it leaves millions of unskilled and illiterate youth out of the equation,” he said.
Mahanjana also expressed his disappointment at the pace of the finalisation and implementation of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) codes and by extension, the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Framework for Agriculture (AgriBEE) Fund.
The association called on the President to ensure adequate funding and the speedy roll-out of the AgriBEE Fund.
“The expedition of the fund will go a long way in ensuring that black and smallholder farmers play a maximum role in the entire value chain of the agricultural sector,” he said.
Mahanjana said the association supported government’s recommitment to reinforce training and mentoring of smallholder farmers, but called for a more comprehensive and sufficient funding for such interventions.
He further said they welcomed government’s renewed commitment to work with farmers and farmworkers in resolving labour and social issues on farms.
“It is the view of AFASA that the challenges are far more than just a living wage and conditions but an array of socio-economic issues affecting both farm owners and farmworkers,” he said.