Vusilizwe Thebe


The agricultural modernisation narrative has been a central assumption of rural development since the mid-twentieth century, and more recently, the land reforms currently underway in Southern Africa. The narrative emphasises the viable use of land, defined in this case through agricultural productivity and market oriented production. The main contention of this paper is that such a focus undermines the rural socio-economic structure inherent in certain rural societies, which emerge through negotiations and compromises as societies change. It draws on data from studies in Lesotho and rural Zimbabwe that shows that rural households do not only hold land for agricultural purposes, but would hold onto land for security beyond mere agriculture production. It particularly emphasises the complex relationship between households and land, complex land needs and landholding patterns. As way of conclusion, it cautions against enforcing a peasant path on rural society through agriculture-based interventions.


agriculture; land; Lesotho; migrant labour societies; Zimbabwe

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