In the words of Og Mandino, “Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” This statement is pertinent to the previously disadvantaged farmers of South Africa, who since the year 1994 owned 15.5 million hectares which have risen from oppression to establishment. They currently hold 25 million hectares, that's an impressive increase of 11.8%.
Farm Land Audit
Consultants Agri Development Solutions, along with the magazine Landbouweekblad and agriculture body Agri SA made it their mission to conduct a national audit of the transaction of farming land since the year 1994 up until the year 2016. For that period, the audit was processed from the deeds office.
In the province of the Eastern Cape, black ownership has substantially increased from 1994 to 2016. Since the beginning of the democratic era, the Eastern Cape has improved from 28% previously disadvantaged farmers to an impressive 48.3%.
Research into Land Increase
Since the vast increase in the owning of agricultural land, an investigation has started to determine the cause of the rising percentage. ADS economist, Johann Bornman, believes that it's because of the rich history of the province.
Bornman stated, "If you look at the Western Cape and the Northern Cape, you will never get to a point where you have 40% restitution because the concentration of people of colour is in the eastern part of the country."
Agricultural Land Available for Farming
South Africa’s total land surface equates to 122.5 million hectares in total. During the year of 1994, the total agriculture land was 97 million (79.2%) hectares. However, it has decreased since then to a total of 93.5 million (76.3) hectares. It is believed that the drop was caused by urban development, mining expansion, as well as the extension of municipal boundaries.
Agri SA Dan Kriek said, "We are worried about it. South Africans should be worried about the mining versus agriculture debate. There will be more land lost."
Commercial farming is critically important to SA food production. According to Agri SA, they are confident that the commercial farmers will end up supplying products to around 80 million South Africans by 2035.
Agricultures Contribution to the Economy
Agriculture hires 670 000 semi-skilled and unskilled employees. Omri van Zyl, Executive director of Agri SA, stated that there are currently around 40 000 tax-paying farmers, 34 000 full-time farmers and about 100 000 emerging farmers.
Governments Role in Growing Farming
Van Zyl believes that if the government wanted assistance from the private sector in regards to land reform, farmers need to own that land.
"If government on its own is going to try to do this, it will not succeed," Van Zyl said. "We believe this is not possible without property rights or security of tenure."
Agri SA Agricultural Economist Hamlet said the government should address tribal authorities. "The difficulty is always that big elephant in the room which is the tribal chiefs who we always have to go through," Hlomendlini said. "It is my feeling that they prevent any sort of developments that take place in the traditional areas."
With the worsening job statistics, it is vital to continue growing the farming sector to aid with the creation of jobs. More importantly is the growth under previously disadvantaged farmers.