May 3rd, 2017

Can land reform feed South Africa?

Published by Oxpeckers,

This article by Oxpeckers explores the role of land reform in improving the food security situation in South Africa. The author argues that if reform is not well targeted it may threaten food security and benefit only the elites in rural areas. Over the past 23 years land reform barely altered the farming landscape: only 8-9% of farmland has been restituted or redistributed. The Reconstruction and Development Programme of 1994 advocated that land reform should promote small-scale farming. However, according to this article it has not and large-scale commercial farms that only benefit a few were favored. Therefore the author argues that the current model of land reform does not support food security and that instead farming on smallholder plots could be highly productive. A professor believes that food production can improve by seeking out the “serious farmers”. These people should be supported with information, loans and infrastructure. It is argued that if farms are subdivided, more people could benefit directly. This must be done gradually and sustainably, using pilot projects, careful assessment and adjustment for failures. Informal markets for smallholders could be actively supported by municipalities. This could be done for example by improving road access to farms, supporting auction sales of goats and sheep, and offering public space for informal food markets. The author concludes that well-targeted land reform could make a substantial difference to many households and create new jobs.

Curated from