PhD defence

What future for small-scale farming in South Africa?

PhD candidate VN (Neo) Mathinya
Promotor prof. KE (Ken) Giller
Co-promotor GWJ (Gerrie) van de Ven
External copromotor Prof. Dr. A.C. Franke
Organisation Wageningen University, Plant Production Systems

Mon 10 June 2024 13:30 to 15:00

Venue Omnia, building number 105
Hoge Steeg 2
6708 PH Wageningen
+31 (0) 317 - 484500
Room Auditorium


In the former homelands of South Africa, farming activities are typically limited to small-scale crop and livestock production. At the same time, farming is prominently featured in policy formulations for improved rural livelihoods. So, how important is farming in the livelihoods of rural people? Exploring this question in this thesis using a range of methodologies led to the finding that farming contributes little to rural livelihoods. This limited contribution is mainly due to labour constraints, and not land access, as otherwise purported by popular politics. Furthermore, we find that farming is not a prominent feature of future rural livelihoods as people mainly see it as a fallback plan or a stepping stone towards their aspiration, and only a few people aspire to farm. Small-scale farming does not appear to be poised to drive rural livelihoods. Therefore, developing skills needed to succeed in the modern economy needs more emphasis and attention than agrarian reform in South Africa.