Agricultural extension and post-settlement support of land reform beneficiaries in South Africa : the case of Ixopo in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Sibisi, Nhlanganiso Bhekisenzo.
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Land reform is a political project which started after World War II in many countries around the world (Japan, Latin America and Africa). In South Africa it started with the advent of democracy in 1994. Experiences around the globe have been perceived by some as unsuccessful. South Africa is no exception in this, with some farms acquired through the land reform programme never used from the day of transfer. Reasons for lack of production range from insecure land tenure rights to the many challenges which hinder the utilization and production on farms. Furthermore, there is poor co-ordination of institutions responsible for post-settlement support. This study contributes insider perspectives from within the current discussion around how agricultural extension in South Africa can improve sustainable land utilization and production in land reform farms in the context of post-settlement support. The investigation explored the experiences of three beneficiary land owner groups in the Ixopo area of KwaZulu-Natal. Purposive sampling was used to select these farms and the research participants. A total of 29 respondents participated in the study. A qualitative methodology utilising interviews, focus group discussion, Venn diagram and priority ranking as data collection tools contributed to the findings around post-settlement support. The analysis showed that these three land reform farms have a high potential to succeed if agricultural extension could play a pro-active role in the process of land utilization and production. The stakeholders’ analysis has shown that there is poor co-ordination of stakeholders involved in the post-transfer support in the three land reform farms which participated in this study. The participants’ responses showed that when farmers had access to good quality technical services, they can manage the farm/s. Those who accessed mentorship from Department of Rural Development and Land Reform mentors, reported that they tended to manage their farms rather than facilitate skills transfer to beneficiaries. It was also identified that current land utilization and production is driven by the support available to beneficiary farmers, resorting in unplanned land uses when support is unavailable or inaccessible. The findings suggest that agricultural extension should play a pro-active role in co-ordination that ensures communication between various role players relevant to sustainable land utilization and production, and should also enable the farmers to take an active leading role in sustainable land utilization and production.