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University of the Western Cape (2007)

Realizing agricultural potential in land reform : The case of Vaalharts irrigation scheme in the Northern Cape Province.

Maisela, Ramatsimele Jacqueline

Titre : Realizing agricultural potential in land reform : The case of Vaalharts irrigation scheme in the Northern Cape Province.

Auteur : Maisela, Ramatsimele Jacqueline.

Université de soutenance : University of the Western Cape

Grade : Magister Philosophiae (Land and Agrarian Studies) - MPhil(LAS) 2007

Résumé
The effectiveness of the South African land reform programme has been at the centre of debates among land reform activists and within government. Empirical evidence shows that land reform has not only been moving at a slow pace, but has also had limited impact on the livelihoods of beneficiaries, due to the fact that many land reform farms have operated at a very low level since being transferred to their new owners. This study looks at the performance of land reform in South Africa, using the Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme in the Northern Cape as an example. The overall objective of the study was to identify factors contributing to the success or failure of agricultural production on land reform projects (farms) and to make recommendations as to how productivity could be improved. It focused on the eight redistributed farms in the Vaalharts Scheme, measuring 378 hectares in total, which were transferred between 1995 and 2006. The study used both primary and secondary data (in the form of structured interviews, focused discussions, and official reports), and includes a review of literature on land reform in South Africa and internationally. The findings of the study show that production on the redistributed land at the Vaalharts Scheme is at a very low level compared to other farms in the areas, and that 113 of 378 ha, or 30% of the land, has never been planted since transfer. Factors contributing to this include lack of money for production inputs and limited knowledge and skill on the part of farmers. This was evident in all cases where production was taking place, as recommended levels of inputs were not being followed, resulting in low outputs. Evidence from the study also shows that poor performance of projects can be attributed to the way these projects were designed and implemented. Many projects have big numbers of beneficiaries, but their business plans fail to address how production will be organized within the group, or how benefits will be distributed. Post-transfer support to beneficiaries has been absent or minimal in most cases. Overall, land reform projects at Vaalharts are making little contribution towards the livelihoods of the intended beneficiaries. It is for this reason that the majority of members have lost interest and stayed away from the new farms, as their expectations could not be met in terms of income and other livelihood expectations. The expectations of the state that these new farmers will contribute to the mainstream agricultural economy are also not being met. The study concludes that without immediate and comprehensive interventions the objectives of transforming the agriculture sector and improving rural livelihoods through land reform are unlikely to be realised, thus maintaining the apartheid status quo of a dualistic agricultural sector and perpetuating rural poverty

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