This policy brief asks how the South African government should ensure that its efforts to promote agriculture as a food security measure do not exacerbate the land tenure rights of the rural poor, which were already weakened under apartheid. Answering this question, the authors argue, necessitates the recognition that land reform in South Africa has not progressed as well as expected.

Drawing on a case study of the South African government's attempt to revitalize the rural economy through smallholder agriculture, particularly in the Eastern Cape province, this policy brief discusses how food security policies among the poor have historically been incompatible with land use activities and land rights in South Africa's Bantustans. The authors, Thembela Kepe and Danielle Tessaro, conclude with policy recommendations that deal with the relationship between land reform and food security, the need to understand broader land use plans of the rural poor and the need to pay attention to the vulnerability of villagers when they enter deals with outside business interests. 

Part of Series

The CIGI-Africa Initiative Policy Brief Series presents analysis and commentary emerging from field-based research on issues critical to the continent. Findings and recommendations in this peer-reviewed series aim to inform policy making and to contribute to the overall African research enterprise.
  • Thembela Kepe is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, University of Toronto.

  • Danielle Tessaro is a graduate student in the Department of Geography, University of Toronto.