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South Africa's Agrarian Question

Based on an in-depth analysis of several contrasting agricultural regions, this book aims to assess South Africa's on-going agrarian reform and the country's agrarian dynamics. The conclusion is without doubt: Twenty years after the first democratic elections, the country's land pattern remains almost unchanged, and primary agriculture and its broader value-chains are more concentrated than ever. Without fundamentally questioning the highly specialised, fossil energy and synthetic input dependent, oligopolistic entrepreneurial agricultural production model, which is presently structuring the sector and is guiding the reforms, a more equitable redistribution of resources and value-addition will by no means be possible. This book examines and contributes to the structural questions that underpin the current stagnation of South Africa's agrarian reform. Presenting fresh approaches in analysing agrarian issues and tools to assess farming systems and agricultural development, this incisive study will be an important resource to policy makers, academics and those with an interest in agrarian reform.
Product Details

Table of Contents

List of figures; List of tables; List of boxes; List of photographs; Acronyms and abbreviations; South Africa's agrarian question; 2014: Reflecting on the country's agrarian transition; A focus on South Africa's agrarian reform; An agrarian diagnosis approach: A long-term approach acknowledging farm diversity; Extensive fieldwork: Revealing the realities on the ground; Structure of the book; Chapter 1: The planned destruction of 'black' agriculture; Overview of previous production systems; First signs of distress; Land grabbing and the further weakening of black agriculture; Ciskei and Transkei; KwaZulu; Crocodile River Valley (Brits); Lowlands of the northern and eastern regions of the former Transvaal; 'Agricultural development' planning for blacks; Betterment plan and normative agricultural planning; Nwanedzi Valley (Limpopo); New Forest village; Promoting a small black farming elite in the bantustans; Bantustan of Bophuthatswana; Alluvial terraces of the Kat River (Eastern Cape); Bantustan of Gazankulu; Emergence of sugar cane smallholdings in the black spots of KwaZulu; Cutting off access to the national agrofood system; Conclusion; Chapter 2: Agrarian reform in South Africa: Objectives, evolutions and results at national level; South Africa's agricultural liberalisation, deregulation and the institutional restructuring of the public sector; Deracialisation of the agricultural sector and South Africa's spatial configuration; South Africa's land reform programmes; Land restitution; Land tenure reform; Land redistribution; Two phases of land reform; First phase (1994-1999): Land policies focusing on the establishment of subsistence farmers and food security; Second phase (1999-2004): Land policy aiming at creating small-scale commercial farmers; Shifting from land to agrarian reform and the development of emerging black farmers; A preliminary attempt towards spatial reform; South Africa's persisting dualistic agricultural structure; Disappointing results of the country's land and agrarian reforms; A stagnating sector becoming more and more concentrated; Conclusion; Chapter 3: Analysing productive processes and performances of agriculture at local scale in South Africa: How to proceed?; Agrarian diagnosis: Origin of the approach and key concepts; The agrarian system: A complex and multidimensional concept; Cropping, livestock and production systems: Concepts leading to unavoidable embedding of analytical scales; The notions of livelihood or activity system: Are they complementary or contradictory to the production system?; The agrarian diagnosis explained in light of its application in South Africa; Selecting a study area; Studying historical dynamics and reconstructing production systems' trajectories; Analysing the production systems from a technical and economic perspective; Selecting study areas; Characteristics of the study areas and their local problematics; Defining and delimiting the study area; Characterising the mode of exploitation of the environment; Selecting production units to be studied in detail and sampling; Characterising the technical operation and measuring the economic efficiency of the production systems; Value added and productivity; Distribution of value added and farm income; Placing production systems in the socio-economic and institutional sphere of the agrarian system.

About the Author

Dr Ward Anseeuw, a development economist and policy analyst, is a senior research fellow at the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) seconded to the Post-Graduate School of Agriculture and Rural Development of the University of Pretoria. He has published extensively on these issues in scientific journals and with renowned publishers. Agricultural Economist and Geographer, Hubert Cochet is specialized in agrarian systems and their evolutions, with a particular focus on the ways in which they are influenced by development policies and projects. Sandrine Freguin-Gresh is a senior research fellow at the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), currently seconded at the Central American University in Managua, Nicaragua."


What does it mean to reverse decades of racial injustice in access to land and productive resources, and to deal with a legacy of concentration and inequality? Can South Africa, which presents itself as the 'development state par excellence', succeed in the transition to more sustainable types of farming and to more localised food systems? The answers provided in this book will be of interest not only to all those interested in the South African experiment, but also to those who, in all regions, are questioning the mainstream agrifood regime and asking how it can be transformed. - Olivier De Schutter Former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food (2008-2014) Co-Chair, International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

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