Land reform programmes contribution into agricultural economic development : KwaZulu-Natal land reform projects.
Mnikathi, Sandile Jason.
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This study examines the contribution of South Africa’s land reform programme to agricultural development and economic growth with a focus on land reform projects in KwaZulu-Natal province. The objective of the study was to understand the extent to which the restitution, redistribution and land tenure programmes are achieving the country’s land reform objectives. Key objectives of the democratic South African government’s land reform programme since 1994 have been to redress the unjust racially skewed patterns of land ownership in the country, and to boost the rural economy. Significant quantities of land have been returned or transferred to previously disadvantaged communities, and the majority of the redistributed land involves agricultural land use as the government has aimed to transfer 30 % of commercial agricultural land to emerging farmers. This study focuses on these agricultural land reform projects and assesses the contribution of the land reform policy to the agricultural production and operation of these projects. The study adopted a qualitative, case study research design. The target population for the study included representatives from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, the KwaZulu-Natal Agribusiness Development Agency, and selected land reform projects. Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted with these representatives to gather information on the land reform programme’s contribution to agricultural development and economic growth in KwaZulu-Natal. A review of literature on post-settlement issues in land reform was used as a source of secondary information. The study finds that a lack of post-settlement support from government remains the greatest challenge to the successful implementation of the land reform policy in South Africa. Agricultural development through land reform has been achieved largely due to support from the private sector in the form of technical assistance, skills training, maintenance and agribusiness training. With such support, large numbers of projects have managed to acquire the equipment necessary for sustained agricultural production. The study therefore concludes that whilst South Africa’s land reform programme has succeeded in transferring land ownership, this land cannot be used effectively to generate agricultural outputs without adequate funding and support. In order to achieve agrarian reform, land reform projects need to receive the appropriate post-settlement support from both government and the private sector. Lastly, recommendations for the current land reform policy are presented as well as possible avenues for future research.