Land reform minister Calle Schlettwein said government has only been able to acquire 3.3 million hectares of land for resettlement purposes against a target of five million hectares, which was supposed to be achieved by March this year.
This translates to a land delivery deficit of 1.7 million hectares. “At the current price rate, the ministry will require N$6 billion to meet this target. Furthermore, the ministry requires N$370 million for the development,
rehabilitation and maintenance of each 565 farms already acquired to bring resettlement farms to optimal production. This means the ministry will need approximately N$1.3 billion per annum for the next five years,” said Schlettwein, who motivated his ministry’s budget in the National Assembly this week.
The question of land has been hotly contested over the years, with government coming under attack for its land resettlement programme and the skewed ownership of land.
A recent study conducted by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) revealed white farmers owned 70% of the country’s agricultural land.
Previously disadvantaged Namibians own only 16% of freehold agricultural land. According to the NSA study, the government owns 14% of freehold agricultural land.
The 16% of farms owned by previously disadvantaged Namibians includes farms acquired through the Agribank Affirmative Action Loan Scheme. “The land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it is the only thing that lasts,” Schlettwein said while quoting Gerald O’Hara.
He said land is not only an economic asset or factor of production but rather, an instrument of wealth accumulation and concentration which when not distributed equitably can easily become a primary cause of socio-political turbulence and instability.
Therefore, Schlettwein said the fight for land, once won, must be followed by the fair, transparent and equitable distribution of land to all that are in need thereof. He said for this financial year, an amount of N$116 million is allocated for land purchase programme to acquire 33 000 hectares.
“An amount of N$10 million will be utilised for post-settlement support as a co-financing with Agribank for resettlement farmers in order to access loans from Agribank,” he said.
Furthermore, Schlettwein said the ministry’s overall objective of the Programme for Communal Land Development (PCLD) is to improve rural communities’ land-based livelihoods through the development of communal lands and a better integration into the mainstream economy.
He said the major activities under the PCLD for this financial year will be to support communal land registration, support to the development of Integrated Regional Land Use Plans (IRLUP) and infrastructure development in the designated areas as well as provision of advisory services to farmers in designated areas.
For the financial year, Schlettwein said the ministry will be seized with efforts aimed at optimising the production on about 290 000 hectares of resettlement farms through the development of communal areas.
To this, he said, a total of N$131 million is allocated through co-financing with development partners, of which government contribution amounts to N$58. 091 million.
He said during this financial year, implementation of the programme activities would be extended to the Kunene region.
Furthermore, the minister said the ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, is currently piloting the system in three local authorities, namely, Windhoek, Gobabis and Oshakati, where, 56 titles were issued in Onawa settlement in Oshakati and an amount of N$5 million is allocated for this purpose. “We plan to issue 931 titles to beneficiaries in Gobabis, Oshakati, and Windhoek during this financial year.”
2020-06-17 10:21:08 | 25 days ago