What defines small-scale farming, if not size?
Turnover and technology matter because a small farm is not simply a smaller version of a large farm, writes Wandile Sihlobo
The growing need to boost rural economic activity through agricultural development has re-introduced the discussion on the sub-division of land to create as many small farms as possible to benefit rural communities. Some agricultural economists (myself included) have been sceptical of this idea due to doubts over the viability of small farms when viewed from a land size perspective only. In 1970, a law was put in place to prevent the sub-division of farms along family lines without the consent of the minister. At the time, family farms were being sub-divided so that all of the farmers’ children could inherent a portion of the family farm. However, the government of the time was concerned that this would create a network of farms that were not economically viable. Viability was adjudged to be an income potential equivalent to that of an average civil servant. Farms that were too small to produce this income were deemed economically unviable. In recent weeks, this has brought to the p...
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