Difficult roads leading to beautiful destinations?: articulating land reform's contribution to rural livelihoods in the Limpopo province, South Africa
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A key objective of the land reforms in South Africa was for the process to lead to the emergence of a cohort of black small-scale commercial farmers who would realize substantive agricultural production levels through irrigation and actively contribute to the local and national agricultural value chains. The available evidence suggests that this objective has been difficult to attain and the contribution of land reform to livelihoods of the beneficiaries has been negligible in the Limpopo province. This study deployed qualitative research methodologies to gather both secondary and empirical data that enabled analysis of the extent to which the land reform program has contributed to the livelihoods of small-scale emerging farmers in the surroundings of Bela-Bela Municipal Area, Limpopo Province. The study found out that financial resources are a big challenge, with most of the farmers being unable to raise the capital needed to invest in the farming enterprise. In addition, most of the 'emerging farmers' do not have the know-how and experience needed to run a commercial farm. Overall, the study enabled us to conclude that the land reform projects have not only had limited impact on the livelihoods of the majority of the beneficiaries, instead, the reforms have left the country-side facing a real risk of increasing food insecurity. This suggests that a wide-ranging programme of land reform is a necessary but not sufficient condition for meaningful transformation of the livelihoods of the households involved. More groundwork still needs to be done by government and other development agencies to ensure availability of proper post-land transfer support systems for the emerging farmers.