The farming sector is arguably an important financial sector for South Africa’s growth as it’s straight linked to meals safety and poverty discount. In 2019, 5.3% of workers in South Africa have been within the agricultural sector and in 2020, agriculture contributed round 2.5% to the nation’s GDP. The constitutional proper to meals places meals programs and agricultural growth firmly on the nationwide growth agenda.
South Africa’s historical past formed farming right into a two-part system: large-scale business farmers and small-scale farmers. Both sorts are essential within the agricultural financial system.
Large-scale business farmers are usually considered as the primary drivers of nationwide meals safety, producing about 80% of the nation’s meals. The small-scale farmers have been promoted by authorities as vital drivers of family meals safety. In 2017 virtually 20% of South African households had inadequate meals.
The existence of those two programs stays an indication of injustice and inequity. South Africa’s efforts to reform land distribution have tended to concentrate on this duality.
There’s an issue with this strategy: land isn’t the one determinant of success in farming. The different three important drivers of manufacturing in agriculture are labour, capital and enterprise. If land was the one issue that counted, there’d be no want to contemplate market entry or commerce between the formal and casual sectors.
Farming isn’t remoted from the broader financial system. There’s a necessity for a extra holistic strategy to farming programs in South Africa – a programs strategy.
This was the way in which we approached a examine of a farming space in South Africa. The examine passed off within the Vhembe district of the Limpopo province, the place each business and small-scale farming happens.
We checked out components like farm dimension, land possession, topography, soil description, rainfall and threats like theft and illness, to see how these associated to yield and revenue from three crops. The macadamia nuts, mangoes and avocado pears grown within the space are all excessive worth commodities. We additionally thought of how manufacturing beneath the 2 forms of farming might maintain long-term meals safety at nationwide and family stage.
Among our findings was that yield trusted an array of land administration elements, not simply on farm dimension. Sustainability didn’t rely on safety of land tenure.
Findings like this can assist goal investments extra fruitfully and feed into the continued land reform debate. Since each forms of farming are essential, any efforts to deal with the nation’s long run meals safety ought to contemplate the complicated connections between them and the way this connectedness brings about meals manufacturing.
Agriculture is the important thing contributor to employment and livelihoods within the Vhembe district the place we did the analysis in late 2020. The space is semi-arid and often affected by dry spells. Most business farmers depend on irrigation programs whereas the small-scale farmers rely on seasonal rainfall.
We interviewed 19 native farmers in depth – women and men. A majority (70%) of the individuals have been small-scale farmers with communal land tenure; 30% have been concerned in large-scale business farming. We additionally collected official information on local weather, land sort and soils, and consulted tutorial sources.
The evaluation aimed to focus on the connectivity of interactions between the farming programs by way of the 4 drivers of manufacturing: land, labour, capital and enterprise.
Most farmers within the district (79%) have been males and 90% have been above the age of 51. Communal land possession was the dominant (74%) type of land possession amongst individuals.
Access to water for irrigation was a giant constraint for small-scale farmers.
We discovered that crop theft was the most important menace, notably on small farms, primarily resulting from insufficient fencing.
Crop yield wasn’t solely depending on farm dimension. For macadamia farmers, the hyperlink between farm dimension and yield was constructive however weak. For mango and avocado farmers, greater farms yielded lower than smaller ones.
For revenue, nevertheless, there was a powerful correlation with farm dimension.
The examine confirmed that adjustments in land administration and entry to further revenue from off-farm actions can help the sustainability of farms.
It has been argued elsewhere that safe land tenure is a obligatory pre-condition for sustainable farming practices. Our examine outcomes don’t help this idea. The majority of our respondents farmed on communal land but they have been sustainable (by way of incorporating off-farm actions).
Changes to land tenure coverage within the Vhembe district might have a damaging influence on the sustainability of each farming programs – business and small-scale – if it didn’t contemplate overlapping land use rights for folks residing on communal land, amongst different issues. For instance, even when a small-scale farmer have been to be given possession of a portion of communal land, they may plant crops on the land solely to have another person’s cattle graze there after harvest.
In relation to the capital and enterprise drivers of farming, we discovered that the 2 programs don’t reply in the identical manner. A big-scale business avocado farmer, for instance, will have the ability to transport produce shortly from farm to pack home, the place it’s ready for market. A small-scale avocado farmer from the identical location could not have transport and must promote the produce at native markets.
Our examine exhibits that there are vital factors of connectivity between the 2 forms of farmers. These embrace the availability of vegetation and produce between the 2 forms of farms and the alternate of farming data. This exhibits that there’s potential for the 2 sorts to work collectively to realize meals safety.
A programs strategy
Our examine highlights the necessity to shift from a mindset of hierarchies to networks when fixing the challenges of farming programs in South Africa. Existing coverage frameworks are typically designed with a linear strategy. Suggested options to particular issues don’t contemplate the numerous cases the place there’s connectivity between the 2 farming programs. Neglecting this truth makes options much less efficient.
Decision making additionally is determined by accumulating important information towards the backdrop of continually altering environmental, political and socio-economic situations.
Fenji Materechera, PhD Candidate in Systems Analysis, University of the Witwatersrand and Mary Scholes, Professor and holder of a Research Chair in Applied Systems Analysis, University of the Witwatersrand