Formulation around the very sensitive and complex issue of land has been based on perception rather than fact for too long. No reliable figures on land ownership in South Africa exist. The partners in this initiative (ADS, Landbouweekblad and Agri SA) deem it of critical importance that a policy debate on sustainable land reform based on reliable data takes place. We acknowledge that there are still some gaps in the data, however we wish to present statistics that might shed light on ownership patterns in South Africa. The focus of this study was on agricultural land.
Evaluating the ownership of agricultural land requires a multi-pronged approach. It is not merely a question of ownership in terms of land size (hectares), but rather a combination of land size, value, land potential and other factors. Comparing 1994 and 2016, it is evident that the amount of agricultural land has decreased from approximately 79.3% in 1994 to 76.3% in 2016. Accordingly, this forms part of the broader perspective with which the ownership of agricultural land should be evaluated. Furthermore, the value and potential of agricultural land form crucial components of a more holistic view of farm ownership. When considering ownership by Previously Disadvantaged Individuals (PDIs), in terms of the land’s value and the land’s potential, the ownership share increased significantly. On a national level: in terms of value, the share is 29,1% and in terms of land potential, the share is 46,5%.
These statistics compare favourably against an ownership share of only 14.9% in 1994 (based on land size in hectares). These results highlight the need to consider broader measures than the hectare land size alone. Considering these measures, provides a broader perspective on the progress with enhancing ownership by PDIs. Agri SA’s longer-term aim is to collaborate with ADS as well as key academic and government stakeholders to expand and update data on land ownership in South Africa. Government has over time set targets for land reform. The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) document for example set a target of 30% of land to be transferred to PDIs by 2014. The National Development Plan (NDP) set a target of 20% of commercial agricultural land per district to be transferred by 2030. The setting of targets has created expectations. At the same time, there was no way to measure whether these targets were being achieved as no comprehensive land audit was done. To ensure effective and sustainable policy formulation, land policy should be based on a factual foundation. This land audit provides such a foundation. As part of this report, Agri SA will develop a new, partnerships-based, solutions strategy to help solve the problems faced by land policy makers.
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