Unpacking the ‘Emergent Farmer’ Concept in Agrarian Reform: Evidence from Livestock Farmers in South Africa

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

South Africa has historically perpetuated a dual system of freehold commercial and communal subsistence farming. To bridge these extremes, agrarian reform policies have encouraged the creation of a class of ‘emergent’, commercially oriented farmers. However, these policies consider ‘emergent’ farmers as a homogeneous group of land reform beneficiaries, with limited appreciation of the class differences between them, and do little to support the rise of a ‘middle’ group of producers able to bridge that gap. This article uses a case study of livestock farmers in Eastern Cape Province to critique the ‘emergent farmer’ concept. The authors identify three broad categories of farmers within the emergent livestock sector: a large group who, despite having accessed private farms, remain effectively subsistence farmers; a smaller group of small/medium-scale commercial producers who have communal farming origins and most closely approximate to ‘emergent’ farmers; and an elite group of large-scale, fully commercialized farmers, whose emergence has been facilitated primarily by access to capital and a desire to invest in alternative business ventures. On this basis the authors suggest that current agrarian reform policies need considerable refocusing if they are to effectively facilitate the emergence of a ‘middle’ group of smallholder commercial farmers from communal systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1664-1686
Number of pages23
JournalDevelopment and Change
Volume50
Issue number6
Early online date9 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 May 2019

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agrarian reform
livestock
farmer
subsistence
evidence
land reform
smallholder
farm
reform policy
Group
producer
dual system
policy
Africa
small group
elite

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Gwiriri, LC, Bennett, J, Mapiye, C & Burbi, S 2019, 'Unpacking the ‘emergent farmer’ concept evidence from cattle farmers in South Africa', Development and Change, vol. (In-press), pp. (In-press) which has been published in final form at https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dech.12516]. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

Keywords

  • Agrarian reform
  • Emergent farmers
  • Livestock production
  • Custom feeding programme

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development

Cite this

Unpacking the ‘Emergent Farmer’ Concept in Agrarian Reform : Evidence from Livestock Farmers in South Africa. / Gwiriri, Lovemore Christopher; Bennett, James; Mapiye, Cletos; Burbi, Sara.

In: Development and Change, Vol. 50, No. 6, 09.05.2019, p. 1664-1686.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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