Land ownership reforms are out to boost South Africa's economy. Special correspondent Gershwin Wanneburg investigates.
Unlike many his age, 26-year-old Zweli Mbhele does not want to leave his rural roots to seek his fortune in South Africa's booming cities.
Mbhele wants to farm - and his dream has just come true.
Through a government programme that aims to erase the country's land disparities, M bhele and his family recently acquired 2,214 hectares (5,535 acres) of the vast stretches of savannah in KwaZulu-Natal province.
Mbhele, who bought the property with a grant from the Department of Land Affairs, is excited about his prospects.
"I'm passionate about farming ... I grew up on a farm so I thought: let me own one myself," he said outside the small town of Ladysmith, surrounded by undulating slopes, transformed into a sea of golden grass by the winter frost.
"I know farming is a lot of challenges and risk because you need to buy medicine to inoculate cattle against diseases and have to buy poisons for ticks. All that stuff costs a lot (but) I like to see my cattle grazing," he said, switching between English and his native Zulu.
Everyone agrees it is crucial for South Africa to address historical imbalances by entrusting more land to people like Mbhele. But some say farming may not be the ideal way to create wealth and say the results up to now do not look promising.
More than a decade after the end of apartheid, more than 90 percent of South Africa's commercial farmland is still owned by the white minority - a legacy of apartheid and colonial rule, which saw blacks kicked off their ancestral land.
So far the government has transferred roughly four percent of previously white-owned land to blacks - far off its goal of 30 percent by 2014.
Frustration with the slow progress has begun to build and activists have threatened to invade land if the process does not speed up.
The chaos that resulted in neighbouring Zimbabwe, where whites were often violently forced off their land, is a constant reminder of what can go wrong if the problem is left unchecked.
From President Thabo Mbeki to senior civil servants, there has been growing acknowledgment that the land question needs to be resolved faster - but officials say an orderly process will be followed, with legal expropriations only used as a last resort.
Studies suggest that in a country where the economic role of agriculture has steadily declined over the decades, and where more and more rural folk are flocking to cities, agriculture should not be seen as a panacea for poverty.
"There's a lot of romanticism about agriculture," said Nick Vink of the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town.
The sector shrank 6.9 percent in the first quarter of 2006 after expanding by 3.9 percent in the previous quarter, according to official gross domestic data (GDP) data. Its contribution to GDP was around 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005 compared to around six percent in the 1980s.
Still, in some ways the sector punches above its weight.
South Africa's ability to feed itself is a vital source of stability in a region that suffers frequent food shortages.
Department of agriculture statistics show the sector employed around 940,000 people out of a population of 45 million in 2002 - the last year for which figures are available - down from about 1.6 million in the late 1960s.
But it is still a crucial source of work in a country with a jobless rate of around 26 percent.
However, South Africa is now a nation of city dwellers.
Nearly 60 percent of the country is "urbanised" and in eight years that might rise to 70 percent, according to a 2005 study by the independent Centre for Development and Enterprises.
"In line with this, most South Africans now see land as a 'place to stay' rather than a 'place to farm'," it said.
"There is no doubt that many black South Africans are strongly attached to South African land in general, and the lands of their ancestors in particular ... However it should not be equated to wanting to farm for a living."
An OECD report earlier this year echoed those sentiments, saying simply handing more land to black people, without developing neglected rural communities, was meaningless. Dirk du Toit, deputy minister of agriculture and land affairs, said shortcomings in his department's policy were being ironed out and there was great economic potential in agriculture.
"There are sectors in the agricultural economy that are growing tremendously. Go and look what happened to our wine exports. We are doing very well with beef at the moment and you can go on," he said on a recent trip to KwaZulu-Natal to visit Mbhele's project.
"The land reform programme is critically important... Number one, it redresses the past imbalances... but it's also about the socio-economic development of poor people in this country."