by Jannie De Villiers

Land reform

Grain SA provides possible solutions

Land reform still remains a contentious issue for South Africans
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Solutions during the Green Paper seemed to be mostly theoretical and speculative, though no one argued about the imperatives of land reform. Grain SA commenced by implementing their proposed solution to this contentious issue.

The Grain SA development programme for black grain farmers began back in 2004. It is completely funded by the Maize Trust, the Winter Cereal Trust, Oil and Protein Seed Development Trust and Grain Sorghum Trust to the amount of approximately R17 million per annum.

We have trained farmers, planted trail plots and mentored advancing farmers to such an extent that we now have just over 4 000 black grain farmers as members of our study groups. The capacity of staff and infrastructure that was developed during this period is now part of the land reform/food security solution.

Grain SA is in the position to connect well trained farmers with well established relationships with mentors and a well-tested support system to partner with Government to speed up a successful land transformation programme.

Government provides farms and recapitalisation funds and Grain SA provides well trained bona fide farmers and support services to farm successfully and contribute towards food security on a sustainable commercial basis.

This unique partnership started in 2011 in the Free State and is now being rolled out to the North West Province and Mpumalanga. First discussions also took place in the Eastern Cape in October 2012.

These practical solutions are very important examples for the Green Paper negotiators and bring a workable solution to the meeting in Mangaung later this year. Political leaders should be pleased to know that the pressure on the negotiations yielded such good results.

The public private partnership of the government support, private sector expertise and willing farmers were blessed by good rains to commence the planting season of 2012. With low world grain stocks and high prices, a good season lies ahead for the grain sector.

Good agricultural conditions and a good crop will yield a surplus crop that will lead to the lowest possible food prices for our nation as well as exports to earn foreign exchange. With these prospects, the grain sector is expected to contribute substantially towards the well being of all our citizens.

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