Arecent family holiday in northern KwaZulu-Natal made it clear to me that if the government wants land redistribution and transformation in the agricultural sector to work, it is going to have to address systemic problems that have been undermining agricultural communities for years. The decay I saw in the small farming communities of Darnall, Nyoni and Gingindlovu is not the result of who owns the land or even who farms the land, but of global trends and domestic policy that have over decades undermined a sector that should be the core of our economy. The most obvious of these is a trend towards bigger farms, and with that a decrease in the number of farmers. With it comes a hollowing out of the small towns they used to support, and the lifestyle that was once appealing but is no longer. According to data from Absa AgriBusiness, the number of commercial farmers in SA dropped from about 128,000 in 1980 to 58,000 in 1997. Since then the numbers have fallen further, with the most rece...

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