Exploring characteristics of farming systems in former labour tenant communities: the case of Ncunjane and Nkaseni in Msinga
Mthembu, Nonhlanzeko Nonkumbulo
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In this mini-thesis I explore the key characteristics of the farming household and the livelihood strategies they employ with particular reference to their farming systems. The study sought to determined the contribution made by agriculture to the total household income, as a means to justify for promoting booth subsistence and smallholder production as a policy direction. I established that rural households who are former labour tenants engage in both on and off farm income generating activities as a response to capital and labour accessibility. A fairly moderate contribution was made from cash cropping; however, I argue that the value could be much higher if considering high proportion of produce is for home consumption. There is a pattern where subsistence production intensifies to smallholder production with accessibility to water, high potential land and markets. I also found cattle herd sizes to be highly variable amongst households and goat production being correlated with a pattern of feminisation in agriculture. I give evidence that calls into doubt common claims of land degradation and instead call for more clearly defined communal range land management research. I then argue that farming systems are driven and adapted to farmer‟s non-static objectives and subsequent opportunistic strategies employed. This mini thesis concludes that with realistic comprehensive support to small scale agriculture there is potential for petty commodity production which will stimulate rural economies.