Productivity gap between commercial farmers and potential emerging farmers in South Africa: Implications for land redistribution policy

Author: S. Zantsi, K. Cloete & A. Möhring
Year: 2021
Issue: 1
Volume: 14
Page: 22 - 31

A common feature of South African agriculture is its dualistic nature showing wide differences in production levels. For the purpose of land redistribution, existing studies do not provide much detail, because they compare smallholders in general, but not the commercially oriented smallholders, who are regarded as prime land redistribution beneficiaries in the State Land Lease and Disposal Policy. The objective of this study was to provide specific, comparative data on the apparent gap in agricultural productivity between these smallholders and the current commercial farmers. Although there are numerous productivity measures, we focused on comparing output per hectare (crop yields and livestock offtakes) of three crop and three livestock activities of emerging farmers with those of their commercial counterparts. Aggregated livestock input costs and maize production costs per hectare were also compared. Data from a survey of 833 commercially oriented smallholders in three provinces and survey of 939 commercial farmers were used to achieve the study objective. Both surveys were conducted in 2017 and 2018. Results showed that the gaps in output per hectare and production input costs per hectare in crop farming is wide while it is narrow in livestock farming. This may imply that emerging farmers may catch up faster on livestock farms than on crop farms. Within the two activity types, maize and cattle have the narrowest input and output gaps and thus are the best choices for potential emerging farmers. Zantsi S_2021 Vol 14 (1)

Keywords: crop, land reform, Livestock, offtake, yield
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