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Resettlement: How viable is the small-scale farming model?
Policy Brief No. 1
2010
Wolfgang Werner and Willem Odendaal

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges Livelihoods after land reform as the source of this document


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In 1990 the Namibian government initiated a land reform programme to bring about a more equal distribution of agricultural land. It should be recalled that at Independence in 1990, 52% of Namibia’s agricultural land was owned by approximately 4 500 white people, while access to land for close to 70% of the population was restricted to communal areas comprising 48% of agricultural land. In addition, land reform was aimed at promoting economic growth, lowering income inequalities and reducing poverty.

To explore how land reform has impacted on poverty reduction and livelihood improvement objectives, research was carried out under the umbrella of the Livelihoods after land reform (LaLR) programme. Two other research teams conducted similar assessments in Limpopo Province in South Africa and Masvingo Province in Zimbabwe. A central issue in the research was the viability of new land-based livelihoods. Guiding questions included whether beneficiaries were able to use their land productively, whether they were able to achieve food security and whether land redistribution in its current form is sustainable in the long run.

The redistribution of freehold agricultural land to previously disadvantaged Namibians is currently the most important component of the land reform programme. This component has two sub-components, namely the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme (AALS) and the National Resettlement Programme (NRP). The AALS provides subsidised loans to previously disadvantaged Namibians for purchasing large-scale commercial farms. To access the scheme, applicants must have considerable assets in terms of livestock and cash, thus the AALS is not aimed at small-scale farmers and poor Namibians. The NRP, on the other hand, targets existing or prospective farmers who cannot access the AALS due to insufficient assets. Instead of having to buy land, previously disadvantaged Namibians with fewer than 150 large stock units (LSU) can apply to the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement (MLR) for resettlement. The MLR acquires commercial farms on a “willing seller, willing buyer” basis, subdivides the farms and allocates the portions to successful applicants. The State retains ownership of the land, but beneficiaries can obtain longterm leasehold agreements.

Both the AALS and the NRP provide for part-time and full-time farmers, which makes it possible for people who earn a regular income to benefit as well.

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