Document Type

Honors Project - Open Access


Agricultural Transformation and Livelihood Struggles in South Africa’s Western Cape South Africa’s post-Apartheid land reform programs redistribute previously white-owned farmland to a small percentage of blacks, and provide these new farmers with agricultural extension services that promote large-scale agriculture. Due to the national legacy of racial oppression and an international pressure for neoliberal development policies, there is scant infrastructural support for small-scale agriculture. Despite the government’s vision, most black farmers produce for local consumption because competing internationally is unfavorable, especially since the removal of agricultural subsidies in 1994. The shortcomings of the agricultural transformation program are apparent in the village of Genadendal, a former mission reserved for coloureds and a historical agricultural community in the Western Cape. The author’s field-based research conducted over the past two years evidences that while valuable resources such as land, water, and farming knowledge are locally available, gardeners cannot put them to full use. Genadendal’s rich resources are unique in South Africa, its problems, however, stem from the national legacy of Apartheid. The case study of Genandendal demonstrates that a national agricultural transformation program for an elite class of black commercial farmers does not address the real problem. South Africa’s land reform programs fall short of dismantling the inherited structures of economic and power inequality, while it creates a façade of racial equality in land ownership. This paper shares the specific challenges faced by South African small-scale farmers, argues that these problems can be overcome with a new government vision for small-scale agriculture, and, in a broader sense, enumerates the advantages of small-scale farming over the industrial model.

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