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Tribal Homelands Turned to Profitable Farmlands

The rural homelands are held in trust by tribal authorities and are not on the government policy radar screen as it focuses on dealing with white-owned commercial farms.

Most rural South Africans still reside in such areas, and partnerships between locals and agri-business on the underutilized soil may provide an alternative to the ANC’s model.

Jabulani Mbele, 64, is one black farmer who is making the transition from spartan subsistence to marketing cash crops, assisted by commercial agriculture.

Standing amid rows of maize in the old Zulu homeland of KwaZulu, he told Reuters he expected to get 7 tonnes a hectare when he harvests in a few weeks’ time – an excellent yield in drought-hit South Africa.

“I built these with the money from these fields,” he said, pointing to the homes on his plot.

Mbele has been taking part in a project to help subsistence farmers become agricultural entrepreneurs sponsored by Grain SA, a grouping of mostly white commercial farmers.

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