Accepted paper:

COMMERCIALISING THE COMMONS: Agribusiness in Lusikisiki, South Africa


Fred Hendricks (Rhodes University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper deals with the AmaMpondo Malangeni Agricultual Project in Lusikisiki, South Africa

Paper long abstract:

After almost a quarter century of democratic rule, the former reserves, or areas under communal tenure remain places of extreme poverty and general underdevelopment, tied up in complicated ways with their differentiation from the rest of South Africa through a distinctive form of local government involving the power of the traditional authorities and a distorted version of customary land tenure. In this context coupled with the implosion of the mining industry, a new commercial venture has been established in Eastern Phondoland. It is the AmaMpondo Malangeni Agricultural Project with the aim of putting arable allotments that had been lying fallow for several years, sometimes decades to productive use. It is an intriguing prospect, with big mining capital, in the shape of Ashanti-Gold investing in a project to farm commercially on communal land. It is full blown commercial agriculture using capital intensive methods with aeroplanes spraying insecticides across endless fields of maize, combine harvesters and huge trucks. The project has almost 600 hectares under cultivation. Basically, this represents a major change in the area, but there are number of questions about the project that remain unanswered and these will probably decide whether the project is sustainable in the long run. The first of these concerns the extent of community participation, buy-in and benefits. Secondly, of course, is the role of the chief as the chairperson of the trust set up to manage the project. Thirdly, the use of gmo seeds and the general thrust of agri-business so on.

panel Econ12
The crisis of land in South Africa