'Use it or lose it'

*'Use it or lose it': 13/03/2009 11:49 - (SA) *

Pretoria - Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana this week
put the "use it or lose it" principle to action and seized an ostrich
farm from land restitution beneficiaries.
"Land must be fully utilised... No farm must be allowed to lie fallow,"
Xingwana said in Hammanskraal outside Pretoria in a speech released to
the media on Friday.
She visited the ostrich farm on Wednesday and lamented its deterioration
since it was sold to the department in 2007 for R3.5m and then leased to
Phaphamang Ma-Africa for R168 000 per annum.
"Of the 77 ostriches originally on the farm, only 57 could be accounted
for. Several of the birds were limping and they were in a chronic
condition [and] would therefore probably not respond to treatment.
"This would consequently result in infertility. None of the birds have
bred since 2007," said Xingwana.
The previous owner gave the beneficiaries three months of training and
donated a bakkie, ostrich feed for two months, a tractor and several
other loose assets.
Equipment sold, tools missing
"In addition the group received about R70 000 from Metsweding District
Municipality to help them start the project," said Xingwana. "It is also
important to note that despite all these support systems, it is apparent
to me that the beneficiaries are not passionate about farming."
She said equipment had been sold, tools were missing and the once viable
restaurant had been stripped of all chairs and tables.
Xingwana said the department was now working with veterinarians to
improve the health of the ostriches who were "not being fed properly".
A broad-scale programme was under way to resuscitate the farm.
They had started fixing all fencing, removing sharp objects and covering
all exposed wires with piping to prevent injury.
They were making a list of all the ostriches' ages and sex for each of
the camps and to identify bullied birds that need to be herded into
another camp.
"As a matter of urgency we are looking for workers, preferably those
that worked the farm previously to assist in herding the birds."
She said criticism against the "use it or lose it" principle was
unfounded. "Those who are not committed to farming must be removed from
the allocated farm and be replaced by those who have a passion for
farming including agricultural cooperatives," said Xingwana.
"I would like to add that our objective is to ensure that 'emerging'
farmers do not stay 'emerging' for decades and centuries... If we
succeed in this, naturally a class of successful black farmers will


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