50-50 policy upskilling farm workers

Cape Town � Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti says his department has entered into an agreement with the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to help farm workers to become farm owners.

The Minister said this when answering questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

African National Congress (ANC) MP Phumuzile Ngwenya-Mabila had asked the Minister to unpack the successes and challenges of piloting of the Relative Rights Policy and if the policy had been adopted for implementation.

Minister Nkwinti said as part of the Strengthening of Relative Rights of People Working the Land Policy, which is also known as the 50-50 policy, farm workers, who have been beneficiaries of the programme, have had capacity challenges.

Through the policy, government seeks to assist beneficiaries - mainly farm workers and farm dwellers - to secure permanent tenure on the properties where they work or live, as well as acquire economic interests in agricultural land and businesses in which they are working.

[Farm workers are currently faced with] two main challenges. The first one is the capacity of farm workers, a key development challenge. We have engaged the National Empowerment Fund and they are helping us in this regard in deal making and training farm workers, particularly in business management, governance, marketing, balance sheet reading, trade and market analysis.

The programme will help prioritise the training of farm workers in this regard, he said.

The Minister said that over and above the partnership with the National Empowerment Fund, and because the volume of work is increasing, the department has also entered into an agreement with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Land Bank to join the training team.

In some instances, we find that part of the challenge is a cultural one, more than being the technical and managerial skills because [there is] this culture that the farm worker is 'just a labourer on the farm' and now you have a company that is owned by farm workers because the land belongs to the State.

Approximately 20 projects approved under 50-50 programme

The Minister said, meanwhile, that the Strengthening of Relative Rights of People Working the Land Policy is currently being implemented as a pilot programme and the target is to deliver 50 projects by 2019.

To date, the department has received 91 applications from farmers, particularly commercial farmers, and 20 have so far been approved. Eleven of them are operational already.

These projects have to date delivered 11 003 hectares, benefiting 606 farmworkers who have become owners and managers of farms, said Minister Nkwinti.

Source: South African Government News Agency