Farm co-ownership pilot project launched in KZN

cornfield- stock image
cornfield- stock image

One of the first pilot projects that will see workers and farm owners become co-owners of a farming enterprise as part of government’s 50/50 land policy was officially launched in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday.

The pilot project‚ which was unveiled at the Westcliffe Farm near Greytown outside Pietermaritzburg‚ was to have been officially launched by President Jacob Zuma.

However‚ Zuma did not make it to the event because he had to attend the funeral of the late liberation struggle veteran and ANC leader in exile‚ Qethu Mdluli‚ who was buried in Bergville.

Instead the event was officiated by rural development and land reform minister Gugilwe Nkwinti who said the project will be used as a “school where other people will learn from.”

Nkwinti first announced the introduction of the 50/50 policy framework in 2014 as part of efforts to ensure farm workers benefit from owning shares in the farms on which they work as well as providing them with security of tenure.

Early last year‚ Zuma announced that 50 pilot projects testing the 50/50 policy would be rolled out around the country.

The 514ha Westcliffe Farm has 270ha sugar cane‚ 140ha timber and a 10ha irrigated cabbage operation.

 Former owner Andrew Braithwaite‚ who will now be co-owning a new farm called Khamanzi Farming Project‚ said land was a very emotional topic in SA “and we’ve been shown how not to deal with it by our northern neighbour” — in reference to Zimbabwe’s chaotic land reform system.

He described the 50/50 land model as a “win-win” for the farmers and the government. “I’m excited about this project and knowing my staff I have no doubt about the success of this venture‚” he said.

The policy aims to secure tenure for farm workers while seeking to transform land ownership patterns in the country and empowering workers to acquire shares in farming enterprises.

 The rural development and land reform department in partnership with the National Empowerment Fund concluded the transaction which involves the purchase of the workers share in the enterprise and the land.

 The 50/50 policy framework is also aimed at bringing about much needed economic transformation of the agricultural sector‚ the department said in a statement.

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