As the country celebrates Freedom Day, some farmers who got land through the land restitution programme say the government needs to hasten the process of issuing them title deeds.
About 25 beneficiaries of land claimants, who operate the Mabunda Citrus Farm in Xitlakati Village outside Giyani in Limpopo, say delays in receiving deeds for their land hinder them from accessing funding.
Mabunda Citrus is one of the province’s successful black-owned restitution farms, which also periodically hosts the government’s graduate employment programme.
The Mabunda Citrus Farm was handed over to 30 black farmers in 1998 following years of teething problems, the farm currently has fifty permanent and twenty seasonal workers on its payroll.
It produces oranges, lemons and grapefruits on 275 hectares of its 300 hectares of land. The farm also periodically houses unemployed graduates as part of the president’s programme aimed at giving graduates work experience.
Some graduates who have been on the farm for seven months as part of the programme say it has been life-changing.
“This program has helped me a lot in terms of income because I was not earning anything. I was unemployed, sitting at home doing nothing. But this was a great opportunity for me because I managed to change a few things at my home,” says graduate Amukelani Maela.
“As for us, we are really suffering because it’s really hard for us to get employment. You know, you go to the universities, but not be able to have employment. So I think they should really put it as the first thing,” adds another graduate, Innocentia Moloto.
According to land claimant Samuel Mbombi, they have had to enter into a joint venture agreement because they are unable to obtain funding without a title deed.
“If we don’t have access to get to the bank, we’ll get advance ourselves. So people want to reach out to somebody. So I think that is total crypto. We split yet in the product. Because when we get to the apple, people go to the bank and we lend the money, then that will pay back the money. So but when you go to the bank you want to borrow money, they will ask you, do you ever title if you don’t have a title, you won’t get money.”
The farm exports its produce to Russia and other European markets. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has affected their export market, as products that had already been packaged for Russia could no longer be exported.
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