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Author:Andrew Ainslie (University of Reading)
Paper short abstract:
For over a century, the conventional wisdom applied in places like South Africa's Eastern Cape is that cattle production is inefficient and wasteful of resources. But what are the alternatives, and do they promise to integrate the rural poor or further economically and socially marginalise them?
Paper long abstract:
Livestock production in many communal areas of former British colonies in Africa remains contested long after the colonial masters have departed. South Africa, despite its particularly blighted history, is not exceptional in this respect. The link between livestock (particularly cattle), peasant livelihoods and culture, and their connection to land is a dilemma that authorities have grappled with for over a century (cf. Ferguson 1990 for Lesotho; Hutchinson 1996 among the Nuer). Their inefficient production methods and wasteful use of grazing resources and water are two key accusations consistently aimed at rural African livestock keepers. Prolonged efforts to improve the quality of cattle, introduce new forms of land management, and secure greater access for urban beef markets have generally come to nothing. Yet the market protagonists remain fixed on the prize of fully market-oriented beef production in the rural hinterland. What if they were to succeed in this quest? I will draw on data that I have collected over the past 20 years to argue that this is likely to result in (further) adverse incorporation for the rural majority, deliver another blow to vital forms of cultural expression, and increase the cost to the state which would have to support greater numbers of rural people made poorer and more dependent in the process.
Connections and Exclusions: People Without History in Contemporary Contexts in the Global South.