Challenging the stereotypes: small-scale black farmers and private sector support programmes in South Africa
du Toit, Andries
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This report represents one of the outputs of a research and social dialogue project undertaken over 18 months. It explores a number of private sector partnerships and projects launched in support of black farmers – some of them highly innovative, others of dubious merit. Hardly a week passes by without news of some new initiative to ‘train’, ‘help’, ‘empower’ or otherwise assist ‘small-scale black farmers’. The findings of this research suggest that many of the current programmes of support on offer from the private sector are built on somewhat shaky foundations. These are often based on problematic assumptions and normative ideas about what constitutes desirable agricultural development, most of them deeply (if not consciously) informed by the experience of fostering a successful large farm sector in South Africa in the past. The problems that many small-scale black farmers experience in their attempts to enter the competitive world of formal value chains suggests that a fundamental re-think is now required.