There is a troubling obsession in our society of wanting to create a class of ‘smallholder farmers’ through the process of land reform. Why should land reform beneficiaries be smallholders, which by and large is peasantry, and not afforded an opportunity to run serious commercial farming businesses?
By the way, I have discussed what makes small-scale commercial farms on Business Day on 17 October 2018, generally arguing that turnover, or rather the level of net farm income, determine the farm size category, not the land size – which is an obsession of some in society.
The suggestion of a ‘new class of smallholder farmers’ is not very different from saying that land reform beneficiaries should be limited to subsistence, or supplying food to informal local markets, at best. Pro-peasant arguments proffer a low level of ambition, often ignoring the ability and possibilities of farmers to be globally competitive and enter into export markets and global commercial value chains.
True transformation should encourage the integration of new entrants into the commercial sector, rather than perpetuate and entrench the duality that currently exists in South African agriculture.
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