Welcome to PLAAS

PLAAS does research, policy engagement, teaching and training about the dynamics of chronic poverty and structural inequality in Southern Africa, with a particular emphasis on the key role of restructuring and contesting land holding and agro-food systems in the subcontinent and beyond. Our focus is on the analysis of marginalised livelihoods in Southern Africa, especially of subsistence and smallholder farmers and farm workers, of coastal and inland artisanal fisheries and fishing communities; and of informal self employment in rural and urban areas.

Research Areas


Our research covers diverse areas, ranging from land and tenure reform,  land investment and agro-food restructuring, fisheries and ecosystem management, to social protection and informal self employment. In all this work, our key focus is on the causes and dynamics of inequality and structural poverty, on the economic and social agency of poor...

Latest Publication

The biofuels boom and bust in Africa

 The biofuels boom and bust in Africa

Policies promoting biofuels development through financial incentives in Europe and in the United States of America are major drivers of the ‘land rush’ in many African countries. Yet, we know that...

Upcoming Events

Rural Transformations and Food Systems - The BRICS and Agrarian Change in the Global South

The BRICS Initiative for Critical Agrarian Studies (BICAS) is collaborating with several initiatives and institutions to hold an international conference with an African focus, with emphasis on...


The Rise and Decline of Small-Scale Sugarcane Production in South Africa

South Africa’s sugar industry has long been distinguished by its large number of smallscale sugarcane growers (SSGs) farming on ‘communal’ land and its peculiar privately administered regulatory...