Equity Share Schemes must be promoted more actively in all provinces
Wilmot James, Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry
18 June 2012
The Democratic Alliance today calls on national government to take the steps necessary to actively promote the farm equity share scheme model that has been successfully rolled out on approximately 90 farms in the Western Cape.
I will today be submitting parliamentary questions to Minister of Land Reform and Rural Development Gugile Nkwinti to determine what his department is doing to encourage the implementation of equity share scheme initiatives across all provinces. In particular, I will be asking minister Nkwinti why the recent decision was taken to stop funding for equity share schemes.
These schemes allow farmers the option of selling their land through a share ownership scheme. This enables farm workers to buy a percentage of the farm, using money allocated by national government for land reform.
There can be no doubt that equity share schemes are the most successful model of land reform currently on offer. These schemes give emerging farmers the support they need to make a success of their enterprise and help with reconciliation and nation-building.
It is unfortunate that the national government has not thrown its full weight behind these schemes.
The moratorium on equity share schemes declared by Minister Nkwinti lasted from June 2009 to March 2011. This had a negative impact on the goodwill of commercial farmers who wanted to empower their workers.
Since the moratorium was lifted, there has been no clear indication that these schemes are being promoted by the national government. We believe that this should change.
Today I visited the Lelienfontein farm and the Bosman Family Vineyard, accompanied by Western Cape Provincial Minister of Agriculture Gerrit van Rensburg, and a DA delegation.
The Lelienfontein Vine Growers group and their partners, Adama Appollo Workers Trust, have formed the biggest Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deal in the wine industry to date. This is also the biggest land reform transaction to take place thus far in the Western Cape. In total, the transaction consists of 430ha of prime vineyard land.
The Adama Apollo Trust was established in 2008. Its workers became beneficiaries of the trust, receiving a 30% share in all the vineyards of Bosman Farming and in the Bosman Family Vineyards cellar. The dual goals of social upliftment and skills transfer form the heart of this deal.
In total, approximately 250 stakeholders and their families in the Lelienfontein farming community and the greater Wellington area benefit directly from the Adama Appollo Workers Trust.
In addition to the empowerment benefits of this scheme, today we saw first-hand the positive role that sustainable farming projects and empowerment schemes can play in addressing food insecurity in South Africa.
Equity share schemes help to ensure the success of new farmers, which has a positive impact on agricultural production. New farmers stand to benefit not only from improved access to capital, but also from the transfer of skills and knowledge that takes place between new and established farmers.
Innovative solutions to improve food security, such as the introduction of equity share schemes, are essential to mitigating the impact of food price increases on the poor.
We challenge government to take the lessons learned in the Western Cape to enable farming communities across South Africa to benefit from similar schemes.