Economic Performance and Development (EPD) launches high-profile project on farmland reform

Limiting the size of landholding, through land ceilings and expropriation, has moved to the forefront of land reform debates as well as how to revive prosperous smallholders in South Africa. However, land ceilings have not only stirred up heated debates, but has also attracted some level of controversy, as key stakeholders hold conflicting positions, which are informed by different conceptions, analytical approaches and methodologies. The need therefore exists to bring clarity by scientifically establishing the appropriate agricultural land sizes for each agro climatic region of the country using robust methodologies.

A research team in EPD has been contracted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on a multiyear project to address some of the most complex questions that arise within South Africa’s land policy debates. To officially launch this project, known as the Land Size and Efficiency Simulation (LSES) study, the team held a series of inception meetings in the week of 9-12 April 2018.

Key discussions transpired, focusing on the project delivery plan and expected outputs to support the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) on day one (9th April 2018). The core Departments, whose line functions will be affected by the Regulations of Agricultural Land
Holdings Bill once it becomes Law, participated in the deliberations of the second day of the inception week (10th April 2018). The third day (11th April 2018) involved a wider group of participants, from sector experts, academics, industry actors to grassroots representatives.  The last day (12th April 2018) was a public lecture by Prof Michael Lipton on “Land reform: radical, consensual or both? International experience: relevant to S Africa?”

The key message from this inception week was that the research team has to move with speed in deepening the research to deliver early on some key deliverables, otherwise the project may find itself lagging behind events. The team will take into consideration all the inputs, which were all invaluable, as they continue with the urgent implementation of the project.

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