The deciduous fruit industry organisation, Hortgro, said in a statement today that it recognises and supports meaningful, sustainable and economically viable land reform in the agricultural sector as a means to include previously disadvantaged agriculturists.

“It is vital that previously disadvantaged individuals get the opportunity to fully participate in the economic growth of our sector in order to stabilize our country for many generations to come,” said Hortgro chairperson, Nicholas Dicey.

‘Land’ is a highly emotive issue for many South Africans and the productive use of it needs to be recognised. “All custodians of agricultural land should strive to increase the value it offers to themselves, the agri workforce and the country as a whole. We need to get the right people on the land through the right processes and provide them with the right support services. Land reform should therefore be implemented in such a way that it leads to viable and sustainable businesses.”

Dicey further called for constructive engagement on all levels between the state and the private agricultural sector, in order to find meaningful and lasting solutions for land reform in line with the objectives of the National Development Plan.

“The current irrational public debate via the media is not helpful. There are opportunists on both sides of the spectrum that are playing with the future of our country. This blatant populism should be countered by a meaningful process with sustainable solutions. Hortgro supports a legal process worthy of our Constitution and all stakeholders should show ethical and fearless leadership in this regard.”

Dicey further said that constructive and honest dialogue between the Government and commercial agriculture could enhance the current land reform and transformation activities that are happening within the deciduous fruit industry.

“There is no magic formula for land reform, but there are numerous examples of successful projects both on an individual and collective basis. We should focus on these successes, internalise it and replicate it elsewhere. We have so much potential. Success will breed success.”

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