Professor Ben Cousins responds to our previous article on the land issue and argues that land distribution is the best hope for SA's rural poor, providing its implementation is radically redesigned.

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Submitted by : Mister Kay of Young America on 2009-06-29 21:58:13
Here is an alternative I would like to suggest, which is aimed at getting the population involved with commercial agriculture as farmers.

100 hectare (1km2), commercial organic farms.

This would get the greatest number of people involved in agriculture, while having enough space to create middle class incomes for farmers. Rather than creating large agribusinesses, 100 hectares is closer to the average size of a farm in the EU, which is 90 hectares.

Organic, because they not only create a better product, but they can produce most of their inputs on the farm, reducing both cost and need for imported goods (saving foreign currency).

A 50 hectare area planted with maize, can produce (low estimate) 2 tonnes of maize per hectare or 100 tonnes. At $160/tonne, that is $16,000 total. If half of that is cost, that is $8,000 per year. Plus everything else that can be grown or raised.

This would need state support (it always does), the creation of irrigation ditches and ponds, machinery (mainly a 30hp to 50hp tractor and attachments), farm buildings and roads. Outside the farm, these farmers would need road access, sales, marketing and transportation services. And they would need education (a 2-4 year course is the standard).

This could be done, for the betterment not only of the country, but of general living standards and incomes, and it would create jobs where most people live - in the rural areas, and in doing so would slow urbanisation and give respite to the cities.

I think this is a much more workable model than the totalitarian show farms mentioned and rightly criticized in the article.


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