Establishing viable and sustainable rural economic development programmes in a competitive global economy : analysis of marula commercialisation in South Africa

Mahlait, Vuyo F. (2011-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The historical significance of the socio-political changes in South Africa since 1994 cannot be disputed. The challenge is to place the redress agenda within a macro-framework geared to promote competitiveness that positions South Africa as a credible and valued player within the continent and globally. Of concern here is the plight of the rural poor and the neglect of rural space, viewed as central in redressing imbalances and competitiveness. This study posits that the marginalisation of the rural poor results from the deliberate, structural and systemic exclusion evident in previous regimes and perpetuated by the reigning neoliberal policies and the rural development paradigm. It provides an indepth analysis of the rural poor’s spiral of deprivation. The spiral is viewed to perpetuate “dependent survivalism” with reliance on unsustainable hand-outs and oppressive paternalistic relationships between those with, and those without resources. The argument is that the emergence of the poverty eradication agenda has not focused attention and effort on the treatment of the causes of poverty. The study objective is to offer alternative approaches for addressing these structural constraints, enabling rural household participation in viable and sustainable rural economic development programmes. To this end transdisciplinary methods premised on the view of the household as the nucleus of sustainable development are used. The study challenges the general economic theory that limits a household to only a source of labour and capital, with emphasis on household consumption. It shifts focus from the consumptive “dependent survivalism” mode to households as owners of productive assets, producers and suppliers, termed the “productive perspective”. To achieve this, an inclusive and sustainable development conceptual framework is proposed with an alternative rural development policy perspective. The framework emphasises the deployment of capital assets and rural economic development strategies based on the theory of value chains. The comparative analysis of marula commercialisation case studies is used to conceptualise the framework and formulate alternative approaches. Primary research focused on the Distell/Mirma Amarula Cream processing plant in Phalaborwa and the Marula Natural Products initiative at Thulamahashe, Bushbuckridge, South Africa. The findings demonstrated that marula supplying households are value chain actors with an objective function to maximise benefits and participate in the mainstream economy, but are structurally constrained. The profiles of the marula suppliers indicate that the majority are women who as heads of households bear the brunt of unpaid labour and the burden of care. The case study exposed the failure of the local and global economic systems to afford them their deserved opportunities and benefits as value chain actors. The study thus proposes a sustainable benefit-maximising system that is rooted in the value chain-based re-organisation of production, emphasising mainstreaming through institutional and systems change. The role of the state is emphasised as central in creating an enabling environment with regulatory frameworks that ensure sustainable resource use and sharing in value created. The study calls for the courage to turn the 2008/9 global financial crisis into an inclusive and sustainable development agenda.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die historiese betekenis van die sosiopolitieke veranderinge in Suid-Afrika sedert 1994 is onbetwisbaar. Vandag se uitdaging is om die regstellingsagenda in ’n makroraamwerk te plaas wat daarop gerig is om mededingendheid te bevorder en Suid-Afrika sodoende op die kontinent en wêreldwyd te vestig as geloofwaardige en waardevolle speler. Die lot van plattelandse armes en die verwaarlosing van die landelike ruimte is sentrale kwessies in die herstel van wanbalanse en mededingendheid. Hierdie studie voer aan dat die marginalisering van plattelandse armes spruit uit die doelbewuste, strukturele en sistemiese uitsluiting wat in vorige regimes voorgekom het en voortgesit word deur neoliberale beleid en die paradigma van landelike ontwikkeling. Dit bied ’n indringende ontleding van die plattelandse armes se benadeling, wat beskou word as die voortsetting van “afhanklike oorlewing”, met afhanklikheid van onvolhoubare aalmoese en verdrukkende paternalistiese verhoudinge tussen diegene met hulpbronne en diegene daarsonder. Daar word betoog dat die agenda vir die uitroeiing van armoede op die tafel geplaas is sonder dat dit die aandag en energie op die behandeling van die oorsake van armoede toegespits het. Die doelwit van die studie is om alternatiewe benaderings te bied om strukturele beperkings die hoof te bied en plattelandse huishoudings in staat te stel om aan lewensvatbare en volhoubare ontwikkelingsprogramme vir die landbou-ekonomie deel te neem. Hiervoor word transdissiplinêre metodes aangewend wat voortbou op die siening van die huishouding as die kern van volhoubare ontwikkeling. Die studie betwis die algemene ekonomiese teorie wat ’n huishouding tot ’n blote arbeidsbron reduseer en kapitaal aan verbruik vasknoop. Die fokus word dus verskuif van “afhanklike oorlewing” na die huishouding as eienaar van produktiewe bates, en as produsent en verskaffer, te wete die “produktiewe perspektief”. Die primêre navorsing is toegespits op Distell/Mirma Amarula Cream se verwerkingsaanleg in Phalaborwa en die Marula Natural Products-projek in Thulamahashe, Bosbokrand, Suid-Afrika. Die maroela-gevalstudie het die nood van huishoudelike produsente en verskaffers blootgelê tesame met die onvermoë van plaaslike en wêreld-ekonomiese stelsels om hulle die geleenthede en voordele as waardekettingspelers te bied wat hulle toekom. Die profiele van die maroelaverskaffers toon dat die meerderheid vroue is wat as huishoofde die las van kwesbaarheid, onbetaalde arbeid en versorging moet dra. Die navorsing se ontleding het ook die sleutelelemente uitgewys vir die verbetering van prestasie en voordele aan die arm verskaffers sonder dat die lewensvatbaarheid en volhoubaarheid van ondernemings ingeboet word. Die gevolgtrekking van die studie is dat behoorlik uitgewerkte en ondersteunde programme vir plattelandse ekonomiese ontwikkeling die handelsgeleenthede van natuurlike hulpbronne kan maksimaliseer vir bedryfsgroei en voordele vir plattelandse gemeenskappe. ’n Alternatiewe, volhoubare stelsel vir die uitbou van voordele word dus voorgehou wat gesetel is in die reorganisasie van produksie volgens waardekettings, met die klem op hoofstroming deur institusionele en stelselverandering. Die rol van die staat is sentraal in die skepping van ’n bemagtigende omgewing, met reguleringsraamwerke wat volhoubare hulpbrongebruik en waardedeling verseker. Die studie bepleit moedige optrede om die wêreldwye finansiële krisis van 2008/9 om te skep in ’n inklusiewe en volhoubare ontwikkelingsagenda.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/18068
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