Document Type

Honors Project - Open Access


After the official end of apartheid in South Africa, land reform was one of the most highly prioritized items on the new ANC government's agenda, both as a matter of economic restructuring and redressing past injustices. Although numerous land reform programs and initiatives have been implemented since 1994, they have largely failed to reach any of the redistribution goals set forth for them. There is a high rate of failure among land redistribution projects, which are often managed by up to one hundred people. This complicated group management situation is necessitated by the combination of the small grant size available to individual applicants and the high price of agricultural land and implements. In addition, the grants are often contingent upon the participants’ adherence to a large-scale, chemically- and mechanically-intensive farm business model with which they have little, if any, experience. In light of the problems with the current land reform programs in South Africa, I assess the viability of small-hold farming as an alternative to the current focus on large-scale commercial farms using a political ecology framework. As very few small-hold redistribution projects exist, my project focuses on examining one such project in depth. I examine the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm, in addition to the level of satisfaction of the beneficiaries. The assessment of these factors gives an indication of whether land redistribution programs in South Africa could improve their success rates by offering the option of small-hold projects to land grant applicants. It also provides a narrative of the many obstacles encountered in the beneficiaries’ struggle to make a farm of their own—a narrative that reveals many shortcomings in the government’s land redistribution policies and support infrastructure.

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Geography Commons



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