The economic viability of emerging commercial farmers under the resettlement programme

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Land reform programmes have been embarked upon by some African governments to address land inequalities after gaining independence from their colonial masters. Land redistribution to the land poor and from large-scale farmers to small-scale farmers is thus robust, both theoretically and empirically. The Government of the Republic of Namibia (GRN) committed to addressing the skewed land ownership that prevailed for over a century in the country by introducing land reform programmes after independence. The National Resettlement Policy, the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act (No. 6 of 1995) and the Communal Land Reform Act (No. 5 of 2002) are the key instruments that guide land reform in the country, particularly concerning the acquisition of farmland for redistribution purposes. Secure land tenure is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the socioeconomic development of any society. Historically, many Namibian people were dispossessed of their land to pave the way for the establishment of largescale commercial farms with freehold title for settlers. This practice resulted in many Namibians being confined to small-scale communal subsistence farming characterised by low returns and insecure land rights. The land redistribution programmes aimed at ensuring fair land distribution among all Namibians and the integration of previously disadvantaged Namibians into the mainstream of the country’s economy. The Affirmative Action Loan Scheme (AALS) provides subsidised loans to previously disadvantaged Namibians enabling them to 36 • “Neither here nor there”: Indigeneity, marginalisation and land rights in post-independence Namibia acquire commercial farms and engage in large-scale farming, while the National Resettlement Programme (NRP) targets small-scale commercial farmers. While recognising that secure land rights are not the panacea for all shortcomings in agricultural productivity, this paper seeks to document factors influencing the economic viability of the resettlement programme in Namibia. This is done by analysing the ability of leasehold agreements granted to resettlement beneficiaries by the Ministry of Land Reform (MLR) to attract investment and subsequently trigger agricultural productivity, as well as by establishing other promoters contributing to this throughput. It is found that there has been improved productivity at the resettlement farms, but that there is still a lot of room for improvement. The current interventions by the stakeholders involved in land reform therefore have to be buttressed by more innovative efforts and also by the cooperation of the farmers
Land reform, National resettlement policy, Land ownership, Small-scale farmers, Large-scale farmers, Communal land, Farm land for redistribution, Marginalised and land rights