An economic analysis of the institutions related to the land rental market of rural KwaZulu-Natal.
Previous studies by Thomson (1996) and Crookes (2002) in land rental markets of rural KwaZulu-Natal were based on the premise that rental markets brought about efficiency and equity gains. Indeed these gains were proven by econometric analyses in both studies. Poor households that lacked the labour, time and other resources to farm land prior to the introduction of the rental market, tended to leave their arable land idle. In participating in rental transactions, land transferred from these poor households to households with the resources and the willingness to farm; and rental income was earned by the poor households. The current 2003/4 survey sought to evaluate the gains in two new areas, Mhlungwini in the Estcourt District and Duduza in the Bergville District, not covered in previous studies. Institutional interventions, related to the land rental market, in Mhlungwini and Duduza, had started in 2000 and 1993 respectively. Equity and efficiency gains were again proven as Lyne (2004) reports. While Chapter 2 provides an in-depth review of literature related to the theory of economic institutions, Chapter 3 applies this knowledge to Thomson's (1996) pilot project on institutional reform. This project, in terms of its action research that bore the ex ante transaction costs of willing participants, set in motion a process of institutional change leading to the development of the land rental market. The introduction of a formal contract, approved by the tribal authorities, served to give credence to rental transactions. In addition, institutional changes were made to reduce the likelihood of crop damage by stray cattle on arable land, in order to encourage willingness of households to lease in land. Recommendations were made by Thomson (1996) to further increase the exclusivity of arable land property rights. Options were evaluated by the author for institutional reform of communal grazing resources. This is to prevent degradation of grazing land caused by overstocking. Recommendations were made to promote sustainable use of the land. Chapter 4, apart from briefly analyzing the current survey results, provides two comparative studies of institutional reform, the first related to Australian water resources and the second related to land registration experiences in Africa. The last section of the Chapter evaluates a proposal for introduction of formal financial services to rural farmers.
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