This paper draws on detailed area-based research examining agriculture, along with its upstream and downstream ‘linkages’, in the Weenen district of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The research examined the economic and employment contribution of agriculture, and its impact on the larger rural non-farm economy (RNFE). The evidence suggests that the agricultural sector is crucial to those employed in it, but makes a small aggregate contribution to local employment. The input markets, dominated by a few vertically integrated companies, and the supermarket-dominated food system provide little local employment. Agriculture similarly has a modest impact on the local RNFE. Most Weenen inhabitants (like those in many other rural South African towns) are disconnected from the agricultural sector. Instead local jobs and livelihoods are sustained by public sector salaries and state cash transfers (‘social grants’). Suggested policy responses to enable inclusive rural growth and employment are outlined.
This research is part of the ‘Space, Markets and Employment in Agricultural Development: Case Studies from Southern Africa’ project
David Neves and Cyriaque Hakizimana (2015) Space, Markets and Employment in Agricultural Development. South Africa University of the Western Cape. Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies Policy Brief 38