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Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill Heading for Parliament

December 14, 2020

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

The Draft Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill is heading for parliament.

The agriculture, land reform and rural development department published the draft bill’s explanatory summary in Government Gazette 43990.

According to the explanatory summary, the proposed legislation aims to promote the preservation and sustainable development of agricultural land, establish an evaluation and classification system for agricultural land and demarcate protected agricultural land to ensure that high potential agricultural land is preserved and protected against non-agricultural uses in order to promote long term agricultural production.

Other aims include implementing a coordinated national framework, including norms and standards and authorisations for the use of agricultural land; promoting and encouraging viable farming units from a long term economic, environmental and social perspective; discouraging land use changes from agricultural to non-agricultural uses to prevent the fragmentation of the agro ecosystem and facilitating concurrent land uses on agricultural land without jeopardising long term food security.

The draft bill also seeks to set up a national agro eco information system with georeferenced information to support the object of the act.

The department plans to table the draft bill in parliament during the fourth quarter of 2020.

Cabinet approved the draft bill at the beginning of December 2020 for tabling in parliament.

According to the cabinet statement, the draft bill “proactively protects agricultural land for food production through the establishment of Protected Agricultural Areas in which high potential agricultural land will be delineated for agricultural purposes and low potential agricultural land will be permitted for non-agricultural uses”.

Cabinet also pointed out that the implementation of the proposed legislation addresses the threat to national and household food security.

Meanwhile, in Gazette 43981, the department extended the application of the provisions of the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act of 1996 for another 12 months.

The extension flows from Section 5(2) of the act.

The section stipulates that the provisions of the act were to lapse on 31 December 1997 but could be extended by notice in the Gazette and approval by parliament for 12 months at a time.

The act aims to:

• provide for the temporary protection of certain rights to and interests in land which are not otherwise adequately protected by law; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

Informal land rights include, inter alia, any tribal, customary or indigenous law or practice of a tribe; the right or interest in land of a beneficiary under a trust arrangement; beneficial occupation of land for a continuous period of not less than five years prior to 31 December 1997 and any right or interest of a tenant, labour tenant, sharecropper or employee if such right or interest is purely of a contractual nature.

The provisions of the act now apply until 31 December 2021.

In Gazette 43979, the department published two statutory measures, one on the export of fresh citrus fruit and the other on dried vine fruit:

• Notice 1296 – records and returns relating to persons involved in the export of fresh citrus fruit;
• Notice 1297 – registration of persons involved in the export of fresh citrus fruit;
• Notice 1298 – levies on fresh citrus fruit intended for export;
• Notice 1299 – determination of levies on dried vine fruit;
• Notice 1300 – records and returns in respect of dried vine fruit; and
• Notice 1301 – registration of certain persons in respect of dried vine fruit.