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Refiloe Mahadi Joala


refiloe joala plaas researcher

Tel: +27-(0)21-959-3763

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Refiloe Joala is a researcher and PhD candidate at PLAAS and her primary research focus includes the political economy of agro-food systems reform and agrarian change in Southern Africa. Her recent and ongoing research investigates the nature and scope of changing agro-food systems within the context of large-land based investments, examines the role of agribusiness and considers the implications of these rapid transformations on smallholder farmers. Refiloe is currently leading a joint action-research project in partnership with civil society organisations in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia looking at agro-food food systems change and the right to food. This project forms part a larger programme of work at PLAAS on land-water-energy and food rights in the context of large-scale land-based investments in Southern Africa. Refiloe is also member of the Young African Researchers in Agriculture (YARA) Network.

Research Focus

Political economy of land, agrarian reform and food security


  • Master’s in Development Economics and International Project Management, Université Paris-Est Créteil Val de Marne (UPEC), France
  • BA Honours Politics, University of Johannesburg
  • BA Politics and Economics, University of Johannesburg

Selected Publications

• Joala, R., and Gumede, N. (2018). “Realising The Right to Food in South Africa: An update of the policy effort, resource allocation and status of the right to food”. Working Paper 21: Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute.
• Joala, R. (2018). “The rise of soya in Zambia and the integration of smallholder farmers”. PLAAS Policy Brief 50.
• Joala, R., Zamchiya, P., Ntauazi, C., Musole, P., and Katebe, C. (2016). Changing agro-food systems: the impact of big agro-investors on food rights – case studies in Mozambique and Zambia. Cape Town, PLAAS.
• Joala, R. (2015). “CoT Economic development and outlook” in City of Tshwane Economic Landscape Review. Pretoria, South Africa.
• Joala, R. and Furphy, C. (2013). “Sowing the seeds of poverty: Public-private coalitions in African agriculture”. Africa Watch Unit Discussion Paper.
• Joala, R. (2012). “The super-inflation of the presidency in Malawi”. African Security Review. Vol 21(4)

Refiloe also co-produced the following documentary films: