Land reform is more than just about ensuring the security of tenure for rural dwellers and farmers. It is about correcting the historical socio-economic imbalances and addressing racism and gender-skewed land ownership patterns. This is according to the head of the Sanlam Foundation, Nozizwe Vundla.
The Sanlam Foundation has donated R5 million in an effort to up-skill land reform beneficiaries through the Vumelana Advisory Fund. Sanlam does this because it believes that the private sector can play a significant role in land reform efforts aimed at alleviating deepening levels of poverty among rural communities by unlocking opportunities and revitalising those economies.
“Stakeholders, including the private sector, can support the growth and development of emerging farmers by providing the requisite support to structure partnerships that will increase their lands productivity and commercial viability,” Vundla said. “This in turn will give them the leeway to improve their income and capacity.”
Through the foundation, Sanlam has been able to fight challenges faced by land reform beneficiaries and marginalised members of the community. These challenges are market access, a lack of networks, and a shortage of the necessary skills.
Testing land reform solutions on beneficiaries of state land, the Sanlam Foundation has been able to determine what is possible within a confined space in land reform and provide answers to questions relating to processes that take place after beneficiaries receive the land.
This stands as a serious point of correction for the chief executive of the Vumelana Advisory Fund, Peter Setou. He suggested that the failure of beneficiary communities to use their land productively can be linked to the post-settlement support of the beneficiaries.
“Allocating land to communities and walking away does not serve the interest of these new landowners, many of whom lack the skill, capital, and technical capabilities to make a livelihood out of this territory,” he said. “Equally the state does not have the requisite capacity to provide support to the new landowners.”
Land restitution result not enough
Some of the funds allocated to Setou’s organisation provided support to the Coromandel Farmers’ Trust in Mpumalanga. The financial support has removed some of the barriers preventing the Coromandel Farmers’ Trust from developing and taking part in socioeconomic activities.
“Sanlam’s purpose is to empower generations to be financially confident, secure, and prosperous. We are always looking at ways to positively impact the communities that we serve,” said Vundla.
According to her, it is possible for stakeholders and the private sector to support growing and developing farmers by giving the support structures that help them develop partnerships. This is also an opportunity for farmers to improve their income and increase their capacity, she said.
“Without a doubt, land has productive value, and those whose access has been restricted have been unable to enjoy the economic benefits and income generation potential that production on land can offer.
“Land restitution has yielded some positive results, but not nearly enough. It appears that land restitution must take place at scale for us to see the developmental needle shift in the right direction so far as it pertains to land reform,” said Vundla.
Road to commercialisation
Meanwhile, Setou said they planned to introduce innovative partnership models that help ensure farmers can produce and make a profit from their land.
“[Farmers] need independent facilitation to ensure fairness and sustainability. This facilitation unfortunately requires funding, to which the private sector and other players can contribute,” he said.
“The private sector needs to see itself as an important role player that can ensure the success of the land reform program through engaging with all the relevant stakeholders and availing its expertise to them.
“Working with beneficiary communities, the private sector has an opportunity to support the creation of joint ventures and initiation of commercially viable initiatives.”
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