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Hunger in the former apartheid homelands: Determinants of converging food security 100 years after the 1913 Land Act

One hundred years after the implementation of the 1913 Land Act, the subject of land reform and rural development are still at the forefront of public discourse within South Africa. Much of the literature suggests that post-apartheid interventions have not been successful at improving small-scale agriculture, which is seen as an important vehicle for improving rural food security. Nevertheless, data from the General Household Survey indicate that household food security has improved in the post-2000 decade. In particular, this paper demonstrates that hunger levels have declined substantially since 2002 (as other estimates of poverty have also indicated), but more importantly that they have done so faster in former homelands regions. Using linear probability models, this paper seeks to isolate which factors have led to the convergence of homeland regions’ hunger levels to the rest of the country. The historical context that is sketched here highlights the severe challenges faced by farmers in these areas; this raises the question how convergence in food security occurred, given that many agricultural interventions have not attained the success that was hoped for. In particular, the large reliance on social grants in homelands regions accounts for a part of the reduction in hunger levels. Communal gardens and connections to the agricultural market have reduced hunger within former homelands regions. The long-term sustainability of grants in bolstering food security is of concern, highlighting the need for greater market integration of small scale farmers in homeland regions.

Source Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers (26/13), Louw Pienaar, Dieter von Fintel

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