Govt Rejects 249 More Farms

GOVERNMENT has continued to turn down land offers as it emerged that 249 farms were rejected during the period 2012-13, bringing the total of farms rejected to 508 since 2011.

A 2012-13 annual report tabled in parliament by the Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Alpheus !Naruseb, on Tuesday also shows that government acquired 15 farms valued at N$96 million during that year.

The report says 17 farmers withdrew their offers, while the ministry also gave permission to foreigners to buy six farms. Furthermore, the report says government is also in the process of buying five farms measuringabout 3.5 million hectares worth N$38 million.

The Namibian reported last year that the 259 farms measuring about one million hectares were rejected because the land was ‘unsuitable’ for agricultural purposes and human habitation. Lands public relations officer Crispin Matongela told The Namibian yesterday that some of the farms rejected by the ministry can also be passed on to Agribank for financing.

Matongela could not provide the number of farms bought by previously disaantaged people after they were turned down by government.

Last year, Matongela said there is a checklist which the ministry uses before classifying any land as unsuitable for human habitation. He said mountainous or rocky areas, dry and barren land that has no vegetation, fall in the category of farms which are rejected.

Asked whether the government is being picky in the land reform programme, Matongela said “technically we want the best. We want land where you can do farming”.

Last year, !Naruseb announced that government acquired 345 farms where about 5 000 people were resettled since the inception of the programme in 1991.

He however complained last month that the price of land had increased to such an extent that N$50 million could only purchase less than five farms.

According to !Naruseb, his ministry would need about N$1,5 billion in the next four years to acquire 280 000 hectares per year for resettlement.

A ministerial strategic plan revealed last year that the State had forked out about N$770 million for acquiring 2,4 million hectares of farm land since independence.

The strategic plan stipulates what the ministry intends to do regarding land acquisition within the next four years.

Government plans to acquire 77 000 hectares (roughly 15 farms of 5 000 hectares each) in 2013-14 financial year, 64 000 hectares next financial year and 50 000 hectares during the 2015-16 financial year.

Source : The Namibian