Addressing the Lingering Inequality in South African Agriculture: A Closer Look at Neva Makgetla’s Perspective

inequality remains Addressing the Lingering Inequality in South African Agriculture: A Closer Look at Neva Makgetla
Addressing the Lingering Inequality in South African Agriculture: A Closer Look at Neva Makgetla’s Perspective

Addressing the Lingering Inequality in South African Agriculture: A Closer Look at Neva Makgetla’s Perspective

Inequality remains a daunting challenge in South African agriculture, hindering the country’s progress towards sustainable development and economic empowerment for all its citizens. Neva Makgetla, an esteemed economist and former Deputy Director-General at the Department of Trade and Industry, presents a compelling perspective on the root causes of inequality within the sector and proposes potential solutions to bridge the gap. Makgetla’s work sheds light on the complexity of the issue and highlights the urgent need for action to ensure a more equitable and inclusive agricultural landscape.

Inequality Remains: A Persistent Barrier to Prosperity

South Africa, despite being a vibrant agricultural nation with vast potential, continues to grapple with deeply rooted inequalities that have prevailed since the era of apartheid. As a result, access to land, resources, and markets remains unevenly distributed, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and marginalization for many farmers, particularly those from historically disadvantaged backgrounds. In her research, Makgetla emphasizes that addressing these inequalities is crucial not only for social justice but also for unlocking the full economic potential of the agricultural sector.

The Inequality in South African Agriculture

Makgetla’s analysis highlights several key areas where inequality significantly impacts the agricultural landscape. These include:

1. Land Redistribution

Land ownership in South Africa remains skewed, with the majority of arable land still under the control of a few commercial farmers. The lack of access to land for emerging farmers, especially black farmers, hampers their ability to expand and increase productivity. Makgetla argues that a comprehensive and well-implemented land redistribution program is essential to address this inequality, providing aspiring farmers with the means to participate more meaningfully in the agricultural economy.

2. Access to Finance and Resources

Unequal access to financial resources is another major barrier for emerging farmers. Traditional lending institutions often require collateral that many aspiring farmers cannot provide. Without access to affordable credit, they struggle to invest in infrastructure, equipment, and inputs necessary for sustainable farming practices. Makgetla suggests the creation of specialized, government-backed financial instruments tailored to the needs of emerging farmers to bridge this gap and promote inclusive growth.

3. Market Access and Value Chains

Limited market access and unequal participation in agricultural value chains pose additional challenges for farmers from historically disadvantaged backgrounds. Makgetla highlights the importance of building inclusive market linkages that connect emerging farmers with formal markets, enabling them to sell their produce at fair prices and access higher-value markets such as export markets. Additionally, developing support structures, such as farmer cooperatives, can empower small-scale farmers to collectively improve their negotiating power and access to markets.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can land redistribution alone solve the inequality in South African agriculture?

While land redistribution is a critical component of addressing inequality, it is not a standalone solution. Comprehensive land reform programs must be complemented by access to finance, resources, and market opportunities. Only when all these aspects are addressed collectively can effective change occur.

2. What role can the government play in addressing agricultural inequality?

The government has a crucial role to play in addressing agricultural inequality. It can implement policies that promote inclusive growth, provide financial support and training programs tailored to the needs of emerging farmers, and foster partnerships between different stakeholders in the agricultural sector. Moreover, the government can prioritize investments in rural infrastructure and access to basic services, creating an enabling environment for the development of small-scale farming operations.

3. How does addressing agricultural inequality benefit the economy as a whole?

Addressing agricultural inequality has far-reaching economic benefits. It fosters job creation, reduces rural poverty, and ensures food security for the nation. Moreover, an inclusive agricultural sector contributes to overall economic stability, encourages innovation and resilience, and helps diversify the economy beyond traditional sectors. By unlocking the potential of emerging farmers, South Africa can tap into new markets, boost productivity, and create a more sustainable agricultural industry.


Inequality remains a pressing issue in South African agriculture, one that undermines the sector’s potential and perpetuates social and economic marginalization. Neva Makgetla’s perspective sheds light on the multidimensional nature of this challenge and provides valuable insights into potential solutions. By addressing land redistribution, access to finance, and markets, South Africa can take significant strides towards a more equitable agricultural landscape. Addressing inequality is not only a matter of justice but also a catalyst for sustainable economic growth and shared prosperity for all. It is essential for policymakers, stakeholders, and society as a whole to recognize the urgency of this issue and work collaboratively towards transforming South Africa’s agricultural sector for a better future.[4]

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