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Uncaptured Smallholders: A Case Study of the Mooi River Irrigation Scheme in the Msinga district of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Venue: PLAAS Boardroom
Date: 8 Sep 2017
Time: 13:30 to 14:30

Presenter: Dr Chizuko Sato, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan

How can we characterise smallholders on irrigation schemes in former homelands? Are they small-scale but market-oriented farmers or subsistence farmers? How do they fit in the South African agrarian structure which has been characterised as a dual system? What would be the best way to measure their production performances? The seminar will discuss these important but difficult questions, drawing on semi-structured interviews with 109 farmers who engage in crop farming at the Mooi River Irrigation Scheme in the Msinga district of KwaZulu-Natal. Irrigation schemes could stand out as exceptions to the general picture of former homelands which were largely equated with labour reserves for white business interests and consequent de-agrarianisation. Equipped with water and probably more favourable soil than other areas, they could offer a model of rural development which South Africa desperately needs. While income from selling fresh vegetables at various informal markets makes an important contribution to their livelihoods, measuring the production performances of smallholders is not straightforward. There is also differentiation among smallholders, not only in terms of the size of land and production, but also with regard to gender and generation. This seminar will illustrate the opportunities and constraints for smallholders on irrigation schemes, hoping to stimulate discussion about their future in South Africa.

Follow seminar live on twitter: @PLAASuwc #IrrigationSmallholders #Homelands #Land