Published on News24: 22 February 2018
President Cyril Ramaphosa wasted no time in reaffirming his stance on land expropriation without compensation during his State of the Nation address. Swift assurances followed that it would be done in such a way that agricultural production and food security would not be compromised.
A credible way for our President to achieve this would be to expropriate unused or derelict land owned by municipalities, state owned enterprises and other government institutions – especially land in the vicinity of urban areas – for the purpose of building new suburbs and micro-business districts for all those people who are still awaiting RDP homes.
Listen to the people
Politicians should also consider the following points when drafting generic land expropriation policy:
Farming is a tough profession
Farming is certainly not the dream politicians crack it up to be … in fact, it’s a gauntlet that should be reserved strictly for the insanely brave and gamblers.
Being a farmer must rank as one of the toughest jobs in South Africa: it commands an unequalled amount of dedication, significant capital investment, multiple generations worth of expertise, and an outlandishly positive attitude.
But, even with all these attributes, a natural disaster can hit at any time and wipe out a farmer’s entire life’s work.
Whether it’s livestock or crops, farmers have one hell of a time out there … fires, disease, crop failure, intermittent droughts and floods, fluctuating commodity prices, rampant farm equipment inflation, stock theft, farm attacks, bad press and more recently, increased weather variability as a result of climate change.
I, personally, wouldn’t wish farming on anyone who didn’t have an extraordinary passion for it. Yes, there are rewarding aspects to farming, but they are often few and far between and usually involve countless challenges to realise them.
Time to celebrate all our farmers
However inconvenient this truth may be for some, South African farmers of all races are a huge asset to our nation. They feed South Africa’s 56 million citizens and generate much-needed foreign revenue, and they do this despite the interminable hardships of political, economic, security and climate uncertainty.
Let’s start appreciating our farmers for the unwavering heroes they are; let’s never take a day for granted that there’s food on our supermarket shelves; and, let’s strive to create an environment where all our farmers, irrespective of race, can farm without fear. Cheers!
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