Mpumalanga Farmers Rally for Long-Term Land Leases, Funding, and Women’s Inclusion in Land Bill

  • Residents of Mpumalanga's Inkangala District express overwhelming support for the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land (PDAL) Bill during public hearings, highlighting the urgent need to address the challenges faced by farmers, such as short-term leasing of land and lack of title deeds.
  • Farmers advocate for long-term leases and government assistance to alleviate the burden of short contracts, which hinder their ability to prepare and develop agricultural land effectively. They emphasize the impact of constant land changes on their production and call for funding provisions to help them recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and other adversities.
  • The PDAL Bill aims to repeal the outdated Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act and introduce new mechanisms for optimal use of agricultural land. The residents welcome provisions for land assessment, information sharing, and women's inclusion in the agricultural sector. They also urge protection of agricultural land from mining activities and call for state land to be leased to women and youth cooperatives.
land funding

The residents of Mpumalanga Province’s Inkangala District have shown overwhelming support for the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land (PDAL) Bill during a public hearing conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development. The hearings, which took place yesterday at Kusong Centre Klarinet Extension 6 in Emalahleni, provided a platform for locals to voice their concerns and hopes regarding the bill.

The participants expressed their optimism about the PDAL Bill, highlighting its potential to address the challenges faced by farmers in the region. One of the main issues raised by the majority of farmers is the short-term leasing of land, which impedes their ability to effectively preserve and develop agricultural land. Many participants argued that without proper land tenure, in the form of title deeds or long-term leases, they are unable to invest in sustainable farming practices.

Currently, farmers in the area sign three-year lease agreements with Communal Property Associations (CPAs). During the public hearings, a farmer revealed that he pays R150,000.00 per year for 220 hectares of agricultural land. To alleviate the burden caused by short-term leases, the farmer inquired about the possibility of government assistance in providing long-term leases, preferably for a period of 30 years. The participants contended that longer contracts would provide much-needed relief, as the current three-year agreements do not offer sufficient time to prepare the land for productive farming. Additionally, the constant cycle of renewing leases with different CPAs negatively affects farmers’ production, requiring them to restart land preparations every three years.

The challenges faced by farmers in the area have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent KwaZulu-Natal floods. In light of these adversities, the participants urged the PDAL Bill to incorporate provisions for financial support, enabling farmers to expand and improve their operations. The residents emphasized the importance of a funding model to make the allocation of land viable, as without it, there is a risk of land being sold back to developers. They also stressed the need for the bill to address issues related to water rights, emphasizing the significance of access to water in agricultural activities.

During the hearings, residents also proposed that the role of Farmers’ Support should be explicitly defined within the PDAL Bill. They observed variations in the implementation of this support across different provinces and recommended a more consistent and progressive approach.

Explaining the purpose of the PDAL Bill, a senior official from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development stated that it seeks to repeal the outdated Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act (SALA) of 1970. The official emphasized that the SALA has become ineffective, and without its repeal, substantial farming land in the country would have been lost.

The PDAL Bill introduces new mechanisms to ensure the optimal and balanced use of agricultural land. These mechanisms include the establishment of protected agricultural areas and provisions for access to agricultural information. Farmers will have access to information regarding the quality of land in their respective areas, enabling them to make informed decisions.

The residents warmly welcomed the provision for land assessment and information sharing, recognizing its potential to assist farmers in understanding the characteristics of their land. Moreover, they called for the PDAL Bill to facilitate the inclusion of women in the agricultural sector and to protect agricultural land from mining activities. Participants urged the bill to allow state land to be leased to women and youth cooperatives, promoting equitable access to resources and opportunities.

As the public hearings concluded, it became evident that the PDAL Bill has generated significant interest and support among the residents of the Inkangala District. The committee now faces the task of carefully considering the valuable input received during the hearings to ensure that the final bill effectively addresses the challenges faced by farmers in the region while promoting sustainable agricultural practices and inclusive economic growth.

With the residents of Mpumalanga Province firmly behind the PDAL Bill, hopes are high that it will serve as a catalyst for positive change in the agricultural sector, empowering farmers and safeguarding the long-term preservation and development of valuable agricultural land.

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