An investigation into the options and prospects of family farming in South Africa : implications for agricultural policy

Schulze Ehring, Michael (2000-03)

Thesis (MCom)--Stellenbosch, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In South Africa the racial and agricultural policies aimed at national food self-sufficiency created an agricultural structure dominated by large, mechanised farms that are owned and operated by a small number of individuals or companies. New agricultural policy should therefore focus more on peasant farming in the subsistence sector in order to promote the development of sustainable small-scale farming units. The liberalisation of agricultural markets resulted in a fundamental change of political and economic framework conditions for the commercial agricultural sector. Failure to adapt has led to significant inefficiency and financial problems in commercial agriculture. This thesis initially focuses on the general question of the efficient organisational form of agriculture. With reference to the German agricultural structure, family farming will be identified as a superior organisational form and the utility optimal factor allocation of this organisational form is explained with the aid of the agricultural household theory. South Africa's agricultural structure is marked by extreme dualism, which was caused by political intervention in the labour and capital markets. The current liberal agricultural policy framework makes commercial agriculture in particular seem inefficient and gives reason to question the current organisational form of South African agriculture. Besides the basic socio-political objectives, the growth objective is one of the most important factors in the development of subsistence agriculture. The contribution of agriculture is not restricted to food production. In fact, the factor contribution is important in achieving economic growth, especially in developing countries. Future developments in the South African agricultural sector will be strongly influenced by the international market. In this respect South Africa, Germany and many other Western industrialised countries are undergoing a similar transformation process that corresponds with the spatial agricultural land use in location theory. Location rent implies differing costs for the use of land, and this is the case for the development of different agricultural systems depending on their distance from the market. The family farming model can be considered as having failed in the South African economy, except in some niche markets. The number of family farms is in fact growing, but there is also a tendency towards more large-scale industrialised agricultural units. The subsistence sector will remain dominated by family farming in the future, although the agricultural household represents a kind of survival institution in these areas. Despite all problems in the subsistence sector, there is no alternative to family farming, and development of subsistence farming is only foreseeable within the framework of family farming. Subsistence farming as a social security system could, however, decline in importance in the future.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In Suid-Afrika het die klem op voedselselfversorgenheid, wat voortgevloei het uit rasse- en landbou-beleidsrigtings, veroorsaak dat die landbou struktureel gedomineer is deur groot, hoogs gemeganiseerde plase wat besit en bedryf is deur 'n klein aantal individue of maatskappye. Die fokus van landboubeleid in die toekoms behoort dus te wees op kleinboere om te verseker dat 'n volhoubare struktuur van klein plase daargestel word. Hierdie verandering moet gepaard gaan met die proses van libelarisering van die landbousektor, wat fundamentele veranderings in die bedryomgewing van die sektor teweeg gebring het. Tot op datum het die gebrek aan vordering hiermee verskeie probleme in die kommersiële sektor tot gevolg gehad. Hierdie studie begin met die algemene vraag oor die struktuur van 'n doeltreffende landboustelsel, dus die doeltreffende organisasievorm. Die ondervinding van die Duitse landbou word gebruik om te wys op die relatiewe doeltreffendheid van die familieboerdery as kern vorm. Die teorie van die huishouding word gebruik om om te wys op die beter vermoë van familieboerdery om hulpbronne optimaal te allokeer. Politieke inmenging in die kapitaal en arbeidsmarkte het aanleiding gegee tot 'n hoë mate van dualisme in die Suid-Afrikaanse landbousektor. Die bestaande liberale beleid het ook verskeie ondoeltreffendhede in die kommersiële sektor ontbloot, en dus is daar 'n groter bevraagtekening van die huidige organisasievorms in die sektor. Die doelwit van groei blyeen van die belangrikste doelwitte in die landbou, ten spyte van die heersende klem op basiese sosio-politieke doelstellings. Die bydrae van die landbou strek verder as bloot voedselverskaffing, en sluit ook in verskeie ander faktorbydraes, veral in ontwikkelende lande. Verdere ontwikkelings in die Suid-Afrikaanse landbou sal sterk beinvloed word deur veranderings in die wêreldmark. In hierdie opsig is Suid-Afrika besig om dieselfde soort van transformasie te ondergaan as lande soos Duitsland en ander van die nywerheidslande. Die sterkste invloed sal na verwagting gevoel word in terme van die ligging van landbouproducksie. Die implikasie is dat afstand van die mark al hoe meer belangrik gaan word in besluite oor die optimale organisasievorm. In hierdie opsig het Suid-Afrika 'n agterstand as gevolg van die gebrek aan aandag vir die ontwikkeling van volhoubare familieboerderye. Ten spyte hiervan groei die aantal familiboerderye teselfdertyd as die groei in die aantal groot korporatiewe plase, hoofsaaklik as gevolg van die oor-aanbod van arbeid. Die verwagting is dat familiboerdery sal bly domineer in die bestaanssektor, al het dit meer die aard van 'n laaste uitweg aangeneem vir baie gesinne. Ten spyte van sy probleme, is daar geen alternatiewe organisasievorm in die ontwikkelende landbou wat ook kan bydra tot die sukses van die sektor nie. Die verwagting is egter ook dat familieboerdery as sosiale verskynsel sal afneem in belangrikheid.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/51612
This item appears in the following collections: