As the DST/NRF Chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (2010–2014), Prof Ben Cousins has initiated a five-year research programme on Land Reform, Food Systems and Agrarian Change in South Africa and established a Research Group of twelve post-graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.
The group seeks to answer:
- What processes of socio-economic change, underway in the South African countryside, are likely to influence the outcomes and impacts of land and agrarian reform?
- What are the impacts of land and agrarian reform policies and programmes on agricultural productivity, agrarian structure and rural poverty?
Research is taking place in three key contexts:
- large scale commercial farming which dominates South African agriculture at present;
- emerging successful small-to-medium-scale black farmers in communal areas, on private land and in land reform projects; and
- rural households in commercial farming districts and communal areas living in chronic poverty.
The five-fold overall objectives of the programme are to:
- conduct rigorous field-based research that produces theoretically informed and empirically grounded insights into complex and dynamic social realities;
- develop recommendations for policy makers and programme managers from government, civil society and the private sector;
- communicate research findings and policy recommendations to relevant decision-makers;
- publish research findings in internationally recognised and peer-reviewed publication formats; and
- contribute to international scholarship.
The following projects are under way at present:
- Smallholder farming in Tugela Ferry Irrigation Scheme, Msinga, KwaZulu-Natal
- Laura Evans: Agri-villages and farm worker tenure rights
- Nerhene Davis: Great expectations for strategic partnerships and agrarian reform in Limpopo: Actors, process and outcome
- Donna Hornby: Social differentiation and class dynamics in the Commercial Land Reform Farmer Support Programme in KwaZulu-Natal
- Tshililo Manenzhe: Strategic Partnerships in the Levubu Valley: Agrarian change and the fate of farm workers
- Farai Mtero: Smallholders and social differentiation in the Massive Food Production Programme, Eastern Cape
- Pauline Stanford: Agro-food commodity chains, scale of production and the sustainability of commercial farming in KwaSani District, KwaZulu-Natal
MPhil students, full thesis
- Alex Dubb: Smallholder out-grower schemes in the sugar sector in KwaZulu-Natal
- Amelia Genis: Uncertain expectations: Commercial farmers in South Africa in an era of rapid social, political and economic change
- Marc Lewis: Small-scale food production projects in Johannesburg: Lessons for food security and sustainable farming in urban South Africa
MPhil students, mini-thesis
- Thoko Buthelezi: Sustainability and pro-poor value chain governance in Tugela Ferry Irrigation Scheme, Msinga, KwaZulu-Natal
- Nonhlanzeko Mthembu: farming systems in ex-labour tenant communities in KwaZulu-Natal
- Thulisile Msomi: Smallholder organic farming for supermarkets: the case of the Ezemvelo Farmer’s Co-operative