Emerging from Below? Understanding the Livelihood Trajectories of Smallholder Livestock Farmers in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

Lovemore Christopher Gwiriri, James Bennett, Cletos Mapiye, Sara Burbi

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Abstract

In the context of current agrarian reform efforts in South Africa, this paper analyses the livelihood trajectories of ‘emergent’ farmers in Eastern Cape Province. We apply a rural livelihoods framework to 60 emergent cattle farmers to understand the different capitals they have drawn upon in transitioning to their current class positions and associated vulnerability. The analysis shows that, for the majority of farmers, no real ‘transition’ from subsistence farming has occurred. However, they draw limited resilience from increased livestock holdings, continued reliance on social grants and connections with communal villages. A transition into small-scale commercial farming is apparent for a small number of farmers through the deployment of financial, human and social capitals. However, in following these trajectories, most of these farmers have been made more vulnerable to shocks and stresses than previously. We suggest that key to mitigating this vulnerability will be access to low-risk financial capital, more targeted support, and strategies to support farmers that might not transition from subsistence production.
Original languageEnglish
Article number226
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalLand
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Keywords

  • livelihood strategies
  • agrarian reform policy
  • livelihood capitals
  • resilience
  • vulnerability
  • Livelihood capitals
  • Livelihood strategies
  • Agrarian reform policy
  • Vulnerability
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology

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