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Title:Stability and transformation in a South African landscape: rural livelihoods, governmental interventions and agro-economic change in Thaba Nchu
Author:Naumann, Christiane
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies (ISSN 1465-3893)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:land use
rural households
agricultural production
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03057070.2014.877653
Abstract:Despite an ambitious land reform programme, many rural households in South Africa derive only a small proportion of their livelihoods from agriculture, and tend rather to rely on off-farm incomes, whether in the form of wages from the commercial sector or social grants provided by the government. Focusing on communal areas in Thaba Nchu in the eastern Free State, this article addresses both continuities and transformations of the local land use patterns between the early twentieth century and the current state of low agricultural production. Based on ethnographic, archival, and aerial photographic data, the study retraces critical changes in the social-ecological system, taking into particular consideration the effects of governmental interventions on the agro-economic sector. Although rural Thaba Nchu has undergone profound shifts of land use patterns in its history, agricultural production there was most significantly transformed by the 'betterment schemes' initiated by the apartheid government. Initially intended to rehabilitate the reserves, the betterment in fact undermined local agriculture and destroyed rural livelihoods. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]