Lowveld farmland in demand

“Food security and a very real need for improved output are vital to ensure social stability,” says Marelize Schuld, principal of the Aida Lowveld office. “With the world population fast approaching 7bn people and estimated to top 9bn by 2050, global food production will have to increase substantially to put food on every table.

“Demand for agricultural land world-wide is consequently rising sharply as investors see value in the commodity against the background of extreme volatility on stock markets. And farms in the Lowveld, as one of South Africa’s pre-eminent food-producing areas, represent solid value in spite of – or perhaps because of - the current economic climate.

“Agricultural land, and developed farms in particular, offer an excellent return on investment and the Lowveld is experiencing a growing demand for the commodity among farmers and corporate buyers from all corners of the country. Banana, macadamia nut and avo farms are particularly popular.”

At the same time, she notes, incentives have been launched to motivate established farmers and agri-businesses in the area to continue operations, and assistance to buy land or consolidate debts is available.

“Various commercial banks support the sector and offer financial expertise and tailored services. These include special mortgage products for first-time buyers, while short-term loans to finance harvesting and other operations such as processing, transport and storage of products can be arranged.”

Schuld adds that it is heartening that the Land Bank has just earmarked R1bn over the next two years to assist emerging farmers. “Land claims in the Lowveld are still being settled and farmers are taking it in their stride. But it is vital that new farmers who are settled on productive land maintain the highest possible production levels.”

In view of the importance of secure food production, Aida Lowveld has committed its services to the sector. “Our office fields experienced specialist agents who invest their energies and knowledge in this important sector and go all out to smooth transactions and transfers for buyers and sellers alike.”

Meanwhile, the Lowveld has lost none of its appeal among investors and city slickers who yearn for wider horizons. Eco and wildlife estates have consequently made a welcome appearance in Barberton, Hazyview and Nelspruit. Many of these developments adhere to green building principles and offer secure living.

Schuld says, however, that although interest in these units is high, strict lending criteria are dampening sales because interested buyers struggle to get the required large deposits together.

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