Govt spends N$2.3bn to buy 558 farms

01 October 2020 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

The government has spent N$2.3 billion on the acquisition of 558 farms measuring 3.4 million hectares to resettle landless Namibians to date.

The government started the land reform programme in 1990 with the aim of acquiring five million hectares of land by this year.

Land reform deputy minister Anna Shiweda says if farm prices were based on the productivity of the land offered, they could have bought much more land with the N$2.3 billion.

She says the land reform programme was one of the main objectives of the liberation struggle.

According to her the inequality among Namibians is rooted in access to and ownership of land.

That is why the government organised the first national land conference in 1991, shortly after independence, she says.

“Four years after the first land conference, the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act of 1995 was promulgated. As described by the High Court of Namibia this Act is a product of an intensive effort by the Namibian government to address the need for land reform.”

This Act was complemented six years later by the promulgation of the Communal Land Reform Act buttressing the government’s effort to continue with its land reform drive and to provide for communal land reform.

Prices rise

“At the beginning, farm offers were not forthcoming, which caused allocated funds to be returned to Treasury. As such, government amended the Agricultural Commercial Land Reform Act to introduce a right of first refusal in favour of government, meaning that whenever a farm is placed on the market it must first be offered to the government.”

Shiweda said after that the market changed into a seller’s market with market price escalation.

“If the prices were based on productivity of the land being offered, we could have accomplished much more in our land reform programme with the N$2.3 billion spent thus far. Instead, we have actually paid more and more for less and less land.”

She says the ministry is reviewing its land reform programme, in particular assessing the possibility of extending the flexible land tenure concept to resettlement beneficiaries to improve their tenure security.