USING the vast amount of farmland in the Eastern Cape and giving ownership to those living in rural areas was what the province needed to address the high unemployment rate, the DA said yesterday.
Launching its plan for economic growth in the province, the party highlighted the need to positively tap into the predominantly rural nature of the province in order to provide much-needed jobs. The launch was at the Port of Ngqura.
DA provincial leader Athol Trollip said giving people their own land to farm on would go a long way to creating jobs and having more people contributing to the province's fragile economy.
He said another crippling factor in the province's economy was the loss of human resources as people moved to greener employment pastures in other provinces. "There is huge potential for job creation in agriculture and related projects in the province, but the current system of land recapitalisation is not working," he said.
"Land recapitalisation is a curse to rural development. Money that could be used to buy more land is instead used to redo failed projects.
"Despite government's focus on rural development and land reform through the comprehensive rural development programme we are faced with accelerated 'platteland' decay, unprecedented urbanisation and migrant labour."
Trollip said the DA's economic development plan would see a change to the country's current position on land tenure, which would result in the equitable distribution of land ownership. This follows on the party's recent launch of its proposal on how to stimulate the economy through the national 8% growth project and national jobs campaign.
"We believe the full agricultural potential of this province can only be achieved if there is a fundamental and comprehensive land tenure reform in the former homelands," he said.
"Nationalisation is not the answer.
"Land ownership works because people who own land tend to look after it better. People in the former Transkei know how to farm, but they just don't, as the current systems are that government does the farming, not the people. We need to use our own resources, the people, because we have them."