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Card image 01 January 2003 South African Journal of Agricultural Extension, 32(1), 15 - 27

Land reform: what have we learned?

Land reform has been a significant part of the South African agricultural agenda since 1994 with the creation of a national Department of Land Affairs to oversee and drive this process. While much has happened in the intervening years, some might argue that in many instances the results have been far from positive. The political current that winds its way through the land redistribution process has not helped matters. Using two different examples of land reform initiatives from the Western Cape and the Free State, a brief overview of how land reform has been implemented since 1996 is provided. Both cases involve aspects of the role played by agricultural support agencies, including Department of Land Affairs officials, extension, research and non-government organisations. The purpose of the discussion is to look at what can be learned from these cases, including their similarities and dissimilarities, and in light of this knowledge consider how we can possibly proceed towards land reform for agricultural development. Ultimately land reform and specifically the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development programme of the Department of Land Affairs must seek to ensure the appropriate identification of beneficiaries and land. Research, extension and the new national and provincial directorates of farmer settlement must ensure that the appropriate agricultural support services are available that will result in agricultural development. The land reform process and agricultural development will only be successful if the goals and objectives are realistic. The lessons from these cases provide us with some guidance for the way forward.

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