Parliament, Sunday, 9 July 2023 – The residents of Mpumalanga Province’s Inkangala District expressed their full support for the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land (PDAL) Bill during public hearings that were conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on the Bill yesterday at Kusong Centre Klarinet Extension 6 in Emalahleni. Expressing their hope in the Bill, the residents said the Bill is going to address the plight of farmers.
The participants told the committee that the main challenge that faces the majority of farmers is the short-term leasing of land. Some of the participants opposed the Bill on the grounds that it doesn’t address the challenges facing farmers in the area. They argued that they don’t have title deeds and that they cannot preserve the land without the right to occupy it.
The participants indicated that they sign three-year lease agreements with the Communal Property Associations (CPA). A farmer who participated in the public hearings told the committee that he pays R150 000.00 per year for 220 hectares of agricultural land. The farmer enquired from the committee about the possibility of the provision of assistance by government for leasing farming land for a period of 30 years.
The farmer said a long-term contract will provide the much needed relief as the three-year lease agreements do not provide sufficient time for farmers to prepare the land for productive farming. The short contracts expire after three years and farmers are required to start new lease agreements with other CPAs, the committee heard. The participants argued that this constant change of land affects their production in the end as they must prepare the land every three years.
They also stated that farming in the area has been heavily impacted by, among other things, the COVID-19 pandemic and the KwaZulu-Natal floods. They called for the Bill to make provision for funding to enable farmers to grow their farms.
The residents also argued that the allocation of land will not work without a funding model. The committee was told that there has to be a strategy for financial support of farmers, otherwise the land will be sold back to the developers. The residents also highlighted that there are red tapes on water rights and called for the Bill to include access to water.
Residents further suggested that Farmers’ Support should be part of the Bill, for its role to be distinctly clarified because they observed that it is implemented differently in various provinces, it is more progressive in some provinces.
Outlining the purpose of the Bill, a senior official from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development said that the PDAL Bill seeks, among other things, to repeal the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act (SALA) of 1970. The official said if it was not for the Subdivision of Agricultural Land, a lot of farming land in the country would have been lost. The committee and the participants heard that the SALA is no longer effective.
The PDAL Bill also makes provision for new mechanisms that will ensure that the agricultural land is used optimally and in a balanced approach. The Bill introduces mechanisms such as protected agricultural area, mechanism for access to agricultural information where farmers will have information available to know the quality of their land in an area.
The residents welcomed the provision for the assessment of the land and sharing of information highlighting that it will assist greatly to understand the kind of land the farmers are dealing with. Furthermore, the residents called for the Bill to make provision for women to join agricultural sector and protection of the agricultural land against the use of mining activities. The participants also called for the Bill to allow state land to be leased to women and youth cooperatives.
The committee will today hold its third hearings in the province in Gert Sibande District.
Details of the public hearings programme are as follows:
Date: Sunday, 9 July
Time: 10:00 – 14:00
Venue: Council Chamber, Emerlo
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE ACTING CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE LAND REFORM AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, MR NDUMISO CAPA.
For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Nolizwi Magwagwa (Ms)
Parliamentary Communication Services
Mobile: 081 716 5824
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