Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty

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Historically the arrival of the Dutch in the Cape of South Africa in 1652, took land that belonged to the Africans and marked it as private land for the Europeans. Hence, a campaign group The Right to Agrian Reform for Food Sovereignty has risen out of the need to help these landless african people recognise their ancestral right and reclaim land reform for the purpose of black, emerging small scale farming.

The documentary above show the struggles of Ithemba Farming Association situated on the outskirts of Western Cape, how they fail to get Government recognition and support as a group of small scale farmers who resettled on that piece of land 21 years ago, instead they are faced with eviction. The land is being re-claimed for a ‘mixed use housing redevelopment project’ on land that in the farmers’s opinion is viable for agricultural purposes. Listening to the farmers’ accounts, it is clear that 1) through their farming activities they are able to provide for for themselves and families, they are now spending less money buying food from supermarkets as most of what they need is available on the farms. 2) some farmers are even managing to sell some of their produces and also feed neighbouring poor communities (to the other side of the farm there is an informal settlement neglected by the government as a result they are going to the farms begging for food). What  threatens these farmers’ demands for Agrarian Reform in the interests of Food Sovereignty is the lack of a market access for their produce. The food market in the Western Cape is dominated by Chemical Model farmers, and hence the small scale farmers are faced with the problem that although they produce organic produce, they are not harvested in large quantities and therefore can not compete with the commercial farmers.

The Ithemba Farming Association farmers do themselves acknowledge that at the moment they are not productive enough and not able to fit into the high stream of economic development but would like the government to support emerging farmers. Looking at the principles of Food Sovereignty one would agree with the campaign for land reform in South Africa, there is need for genuine and comprehensive land reforms that prioritise local agricultural production in order to feed people, the access of peasants and landless people to land, water, seeds, and credit. With examples of best practice drawn from Europe and America, one way these farmers can implement Food Sovereignty is through Community Supported Agriculture.

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