Farmers are anxious about the growing number of South Africans forcefully ‘reclaiming land’ without giving owners any compensation.
The backdrop of high input costs, low returns and a weakening rand is also scaring many in the profession into walking away whilst they can still recuperate some value from their operations.
These findings have been published in South Africa’s largest agricultural magazine, Landbou Weekblad. They estimate that more than 20,000 farms are currently up for sale – the highest number in the last 20 years.
Leading SA agriculturists have expressed their concerns that many farmers could be tempted to simply give up over the next year:
Agri-Sector Unity Forum chairperson Japie Grobler:
“For a lot of farmers, the true costs of production are not calculated. What about overheads like electricity? It is going to be especially tough this year with the low prices and very high costs of production. We are going to face a lot of farmers not being able to farm for at least another year.”
Chief Economist at Agri-SA Hamlet Hlomendlini:
“Being unable to recover from the drought might be one of the reasons leading to some of the farm sales that we see in the market. Fears of expropriation without compensation might also be the reason.”
With 5% of all employment in SA being farming-based (double that of the mining sector), it’s obvious that a mass exodus easily has the potential to derail our economy even further.
Hamlet Hlomendlini did offer a slightly more optimistic interpretation of the farm sales data, though. He added that the spike in sales wouldn’t be all doom and gloom if they were being bought for farming purposes.
Read: Take the land without compensation and you’ll start a civil war, warns FF+
It could be a case of larger farms buying out smaller ones, centralising the industry and consolidating its value.
Land seizures do remain a very real threat to some owners, however. Farming is currently balanced on a knife-edge, and it requires a lot of tough, rational leadership to steer it back on course.
Now, where can we find us some of that?
Source: The South African
Author: Tom Head