Agriculture and Agrarian Change in South Africa

  • Stephen Greenberg
Part of the World Regional Geography Book Series book series (WRGBS)


South Africa is a dry country with limited arable potential. Commercial agriculture is found in pockets on the central Highveld, and in smaller pockets in KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape provinces. Ecosystems have contributed to shaping settlement and transport patterns, but so has politics, especially in the form of spatial segregation associated with apartheid. Farming and agro-food systems are increasingly concentrated and centralised under corporate-financial control. Deregulation and liberalisation have consolidated these trends. This has produced some winners (e.g. capital intensive export-oriented horticulture) and some losers (e.g. indebted family farmers in low value bulk commodity crops). Farm worker numbers have dropped sharply and workers are fragmented and differentiated in new ways. A small layer of black commercial farmers has arisen over recent years but these are still economically weak in comparison with their large-scale white counterparts. A broad periphery of food producers mostly located in the former homelands receives limited support. Land reform and agriculture have been connected in programming, but around a commercial agenda.


Agrarian change Commercial agriculture Farm workers Land reform Smallholders South Africa 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Greenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.African Centre for BiodiversityJohannesburgSouth Africa

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