WANDILE SIHLOBO: Dual-economy SA has room for small and big farms
Brazil also has mega-farms, commercial farms, medium-scale farms and small farms, serving different needs of society
Although we are in the midst of land discussions in SA, I have not been thinking a lot about farm sizes until this past week. I participated in a panel discussion hosted by Nation in Conversation at Nampo in Bothaville. The discussion focused on the importance of economies of scale and the question we had to answer came down to this: does farm size matter in SA? The panel consisted of Prof Ferdi Meyer of the University of Pretoria and the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy; Jannie de Villiers of Grain SA; Francois Strydom of Senwes; and Theo Vorster of Galileo Capital. Before delving into the subject, a brief reflection on the evolution of South African farm sizes would offer some insight in this subject. If we reflect on the past 100-year data series, the total area farmed in SA grew from 77.8-million hectares in 1918 to a peak of 91.8-million hectares in 1960, and declined to 82.2-million hectares in 1996 before stabilising around that level. Over this period, the average far...