Dynamics affecting subsistence agricultural production : an exploration of a case study of subsistence crop production within a rural community in the Ingwe Municipality of southern KwaZulu-Natal.
Agriculture forms the livelihood basis of several billion people around the world. Despite the increasing trend for rural to urban migration the problems associated with poverty are expected to remain predominantly rural for some time into the future. The challenges associated with rural poverty are particularly important in South Africa where the remaining effects of the oppressive apartheid regime are still vividly evident. The rural population are often stranded in areas of stagnant economic growth and minimal employment opportunities further compounded by low levels of education. The livelihoods of these rural communities, in the former homelands, are often confined to a heavy reliance on remittance incomes and agriculture. However, in the recent past the level of agricultural activity in these rural homelands appears to be declining. This has direct implications for the development agenda in these rural areas. This study is an examination of the various dynamics which have affected the subsistence agriculture sector within a specific community in the former homeland of KwaZulu in Southern KwaZulu-Natal. The responses of 12 respondents, representing independent households, were recorded along with four purpositive interviews with relevant role players in the agricultural sector and in the rural community. The responses shed some light on the multifaceted dynamics which have played an important role in how individual households and the community at large make livelihood choices and how subsistence agriculture fits into these decisions. An increasing reliance on money as the basis of livelihood decisions is resulting in the reliance on agriculture shifting away from a central foundation of household livelihood towards a more supplementary form of food source and risk diversion. Shifting cultural norms have resulted in women and the youth becoming less involved in farming practices in general, which may have been influenced by the expansion of social grants into the rural communities. The changes in dynamics which influence local community and household livelihood decisions are important to consider when determining a possible development initiative in these rural areas.
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