The government is open to exploring new, collaborative approaches to agriculture and land reform, said Dr Arno van Niekerk of Project SA, after a meeting with Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thokozile Didiza in Pretoria yesterday evening.
He said God’s presence was tangible during the meeting between the minister and representatives of Project SA during which “solutions to agriculture were openly discussed from a Kingdom perspective and we all prayed together”.
Project SA is a national network that aims to mobilise Kingdom nation-builders to bring about real change in South Africa.
According to Van Niekerk, who is an economist and national coordinator of the network, the minister said she really appreciated a Kingdom approach to agriculture.
“She said when things are driven from a Kingdom perspective it puts everyone at ease because there is not a political agenda. I was surprised how positive she was. She even mentioned examples in other countries which have worked,” he said.
Van Niekerk said there was agreement that forcing expropriation of land without compensation was not the answer to land reform in South Africa.
The Project SA group told the minister that there was an “absolute willingness” by farmers to be part of land reform. She said there is an opportunity to reframe the land reform challenge as a collective effort for the benefit of all.
He said they discussed collaboration between farmers and communities to address agricultural challenges
They also addressed taking hands with the government to address hunger, using agriculture as a platform to generate entrepreneurship.
“During the lockdown and the pandemic — even the first 4 quarters — all the sectors of the economy showed negative growth except for agriculture. Nine out of 10 were negative, agriculture had a positive growth rate.
“This tells you there are a lot of opportunities through agriculture and the government is open to take hands. It is really good news.
“There is an openness by government to say let’s speak towards finding new ways, real solutions. Let’s work together on different approaches but lets address the root issues,” said Van Niekerk.
He said that Didiza said that if Project SA comes forward with projects that “really are in the interest of the people and which benefit the community”, government will endorse them.