Rural Development

The Challenge of Sustainable Rural
Development: A Case Study from the
Eastern Cape
By Professor Gilingwe Mayende
15 September 2011
A brief historical sketch
The current situation: Mhlontlo case study
Government’s response 1: the ISRDP
Government’s response 2: the CRDP
Some key emerging challenges of the CRDP
Some key imperatives
Agricultural Co-operatives
Key determinants of sustainability
A Brief Historical Sketch
• Land dispossession
• By 1900 previously prosperous African
agricultural production had been destroyed
• Exacerbated by the deleterious effects of
the1913 Native Land Act and subsequent
‘group areas’ legislation
• By 1936, Africans had access to only 13% of
the land
• lots reduced to 1.5 hectares per household on
A Brief Historical Sketch
• Rapid increases in population went hand in
hand with regression to sub-subsistence levels
• Wage migrant labour and establishment of
labour reserves
• Poverty deepened to such an extent by the
1970s around 70 per cent of the homeland
populations lived below the poverty line
• ‘Betterment’ schemes in the 1940s and 50s
• Continued into the era of so-called ‘homeland
A Brief Historical Sketch
• Agricultural production continued its downward slide
into the 1980s
• ‘Homeland’ governments began a trend of using
parastatal institutions to provide agricultural services
like TRACOR in the former Transkei and ULIMOCOR in
the Ciskei
• The parastatals acted as ‘agricultural entrepreneurs’,
engaging in actual productive activities while the
people were largely non involved
• Envisaged emergence of ‘serious’ and ‘progressive’
African farmers never materialised
The Current Situation: Mhlontlo
Case Study
• Mhlontlo Local Municipality is one of 7 that form part of OR
Tambo District Municipality
• Physical characteristics similar with rest of former Transkei
territory in terms of soil quality, climate, rainfall patterns, etc
– exception is southernmost part known as Pondoland
• Demographically the area also fits the usual pattern of
overcrowding, high infant mortality rates, low adult life
expectancy and high rates of migration to towns and cities
• Almost totally cut-off from the mainstream of the country’s
economy except through labour migration and remittances
The Current Situation: Mhlontlo
Case Study
• Mhlontlo LM declared a pilot site for the
Comprehensive Rural Development Programme by
the EC Provincial government in June 2008
• Research conducted in the area by the presenter in
August 2009 – March 2010
• Similar processes of land dispossession as in most of
SA, culminated in the 1860s with Amampondomise
losing large tracts of in the relatively large farming
area that incorporates the towns of Maclear
(Nqanqaru), Ugie (Inxu) and Elliot (Untunjinkala)
The Current Situation: Mhlontlo
Case Study
• Empirical data collection included a baseline household
survey of a sample of 800 households in ten villages out of a
total of 34 000
• Mhlontlo’s IDP shows the area as having a population of 197
723 of whom 99% are Africans
• Unemployment is at 87.4% against a provincial aggregate of
44.7% and a national figure of 38.6%
• 60% have no access to clean drinking water, and 68.7% do not
have electricity
• Proportion of households receiving old age grants is 48%,
child support grants 6.25%, and disability grants 11.88%
• Data on distribution of arable land in the area also shows the
average plot being 1.5 hectares
The Current Situation: Mhlontlo
Case Study
• The region is lagging far behind others on the EC, with
proportion of households living in poverty as high as 82% as
against a provincial aggregate of 67.4%
• Proportion of households having access to basic services is
16.6% against a provincial aggregate of 43.3%
• The literacy rate is only 49.1% compared to a provincial
aggregate of 63.5%
• Rural-urban migration continues to be high, with 51.4% of
households having at least one member who has migrated
• Significantly, oscillatory migration has been diminishing, with
increasing numbers opting to base themselves permanently in
the towns or cities
The Current Situation: Mhlontlo
Case Study
• Data on wages and income show severe deprivation as only
13% of the households in the sample indicated having any
source of income, with 86.98% having no income
• Only 24.41% received remittances, which suggests the
diminishing importance of this source of supplementary
income – compared to the high of 70% in the 1970s
• Only 1.75% of the households in the sample sell any crops
• While 13.6% received food parcels, 82.7% indicated that they
requested food from neighbours occasionally and 10.7 per
cent on a weekly basis
• In the sample, 64% reported that they were engaged in arable
production on a regular basis, with 62% planting maize as the
main crop
The Current Situation: Mhlontlo
Case Study
• Only 38% owned cattle (5 on average), 36% sheep and 25.75%
• Interestingly, 59% of the sample households wanted to
become surplus-producing smallholders, whilst another
survey (conducted by the Agricultural and Rural Development
Institute at the University of Fort Hare) found that only 15% of
rural households in the Eastern Cape want to engage in
agricultural production
• An examination of the list of priorities highlighted by the
survey respondents also provides interesting findings, with
their order of preference being: income, ability to feed
oneself, health facilities, educational facilities, good roads,
and starting a business
The Current Situation: Mhlontlo
Case Study
Government’s Response 1: the
ISRDP 2001-2008
• ISRDP was adopted in 2000 and launched hastily
• Was to be implemented in 21 rural nodes with the
URP in 8 nodes
• In his 2001 State of the Nation Address (SNA) the
then President Thabo Mbeki said: “Our central aim is
to conduct a sustained campaign against rural
poverty and underdevelopment, bringing in the
resources of all three spheres of government in a coordinated manner”
• However, the programme saw little success
Government’s Response 1: the
ISRDP 2001- 2008
• Policy gurus in the Presidency were at the same time ramming
through the urban-biased Spatial Development Initiative,
which saw development as being driven by urban-based
investment, with rigidly set parameters of ‘people and not
• In practice, ISRDP turned out to be neither integrated, nor
sustainable, nor was it any real sense a rural development
programme as it was vaguely defined, inadequately financed,
poorly implemented and weakly co-ordinated
• No proper technical and management capacity at DPLG which
was given the task of ‘co-ordinating’ the programme
• IDT was brought in but faced major operational constraints
• No surplus funds among the government departments to take
Government’s Response 2: the
CRDP since 2009
• A central feature of the emerging strategy on rural
development in SA is its almost exclusive focus on
the former homelands
• Paradoxically these areas are seen as having an
intrinsic capacity to provide a basis for a
thoroughgoing agrarian transformation process that
could lead to eradication of poverty and the creation
of ‘vibrant and sustainable communities’
• A ‘fundamental shift in direction’ came with the
announcement of the CRDP by President Jacob Zuma
in his SNA in which rural development was
highlighted as one of five priorities of his new
Government’s Response 2: the
CRDP since 2009
• The government’s position on rural development derived
directly from the relevant resolutions of the ANC’s 2007
Polokwane National Conference
• CRDP highlights the lead role to be played by agrarian
transformation as a central platform for rural development
and as a springboard towards other productive processes,
including spin-offs in rural manufacturing, particularly agroprocessing, as well as a range of non-agricultural activities
• CRDP’s major objective is the establishment of ‘vibrant and
sustainable rural communities’ characterised by access to
productive assets, employment opportunities, etc
Government’s Response 2: the
CRDP since 2009
• Strategic investment in infrastructure for the benefit
of entire rural communities and not only those
involved in agricultural production
• Social mobilisation through the establishment of
social clubs and co-operatives for economic
activities, wealth creation and productive use of
• Linking of agrarian transformation to land reform for
the purpose of accelerating access to land in relevant
cases, strengthening tenure security and speedy
processing of outstanding restitution claims – mostly
a regurgitation of existing plans
Government’s Response 2: the
CRDP since 2009
• Establishment of relevant co-ordination and implementation
• CRDP governance structures – more of the same, little
• Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
• Strategic partners: Relevant govt departments, DBSA, IDT,
NGOs, Land Bank, Commercial banks, etc
• Council of Stakeholders (COS)
• CRDP Technical Committee
• Households: co-operatives and enterprises; groups of 20
Some Key Emerging Challenges for
the CRDP
• Lack of funds and an effective funding model
• No empowerment model for communities by encouraging
them to establish their own organisations that should drive
their development from below
• The approach of utilising only formal structures such as
municipal wards and traditional councils is problematic
• Delivery mechanisms lack innovation and assume a balanced
equation in terms of the configuration of role players at the
local level, yet there is considerable tension between
traditional authorities and elected councils, whilst
communities are organisationally weak and therefore
Some Key Emerging Challenges for
the CRDP
• Methodologically, the research approach of the programme
based on ‘pilot studies’ has a number of flaws, e.g.
 The pilot site is determined politically and chosen arbitrarily
because it supposedly exhibits certain characteristics that are
identified beforehand – similar to ISRDP
 Work done within a pilot study area takes place under ideal
conditions, which gives the information gathering exercise a
highly subjective character
 The piloting exercise is also a concentrated effort,
characterised by the disproportionate deployment of
resources, including senior government officials who pay
repeated extended visits
Some Key Emerging Challenges for
the CRDP
• ‘Lessons’ derived from the Giyani pilot are not necessarily
replicable elsewhere; e.g. provision of 231 houses will not
easily be replicated in the 161 wards in the area let alone the
thousands of rural villages throughout the country
• Institutional, management and technical capacity issues have
not been addressed effectively
• Leveraging of strategic partnerships to enhance technical
capacity has not been done effectively – with a few
exceptions such as DBSA
• Design challenge: programme designed largely as a
subsistence model
• Access to finance for programme beneficiaries has not been
Some Key Emerging Challenges for
the CRDP
• No clarity as to whether the CRDP is based on a grant
(handout) or subsidy model
• The model seems to falling into the trap of the
pitfalls of the ISRDP in terms of the group-based
• Misunderstanding of what agrarian transformation
should entail
Agrarian transformation may be defined as referring to “measures aimed at achieving equity”, optimum
utilisation of land, and in relevant instances its redistribution, “for the primary purpose of transforming,
re-organising and enhancing the agricultural production process. It also refers to a process of engendering
of a more comprehensive and demographically representative spread in the distribution of social and
economic benefits from the agrarian economy” (Mayende, 2010: 58). An additional benefit of agrarian
transformation is that it enhances the process of social cohesion among communities as well as the dignity
of households and individuals.
Some Key emerging Challenges for
the CRDP
• While it makes reference to non-agricultural interventions,
the CRDP has hardly any links with the SMME development
work being done by the DTI and SEDA, and the Dept of Public
Works’ EPWP
• CRDP is also vague on how agro-cessing would be introduced,
and how funding for it would be mobilised, including private
sector investment
• DRDLR facing extreme difficulty in mobilising partners within
govt for provision of social and productive infrastructure
• CRDP lacks an effective empowerment model that would
ensure that communities develop the skills and capacity that
are required through effective training and capacity-building
• The section on co-operatives in the CRDP framework
Some Key Imperatives
• Creation of opportunities for employment and suitable
conditions for raising an adequate income. The ability to raise
an adequate income is the fundamental requirement for
human dignity and decent work.
• Enabling of the beneficiaries to produce a surplus and make a
• Integration of the beneficiaries into the wider national
economy as producers of goods and services, and as
contributors to the national fiscus as taxpayers
• Effective organisation of the production process with issues
such as natural resources, capital assets, inputs and markets
being integral parts of strategy
Some Key Imperatives
• Deepening and broadening of the benefits of this
development process through agrarian transformation should
lay the foundation for the development of downstream
industries in agro-processing, manufacturing, transportation,
equipment maintenance, and more effective promotion of
service industries such as tourism.
• Promotion of the establishment of non-agricultural
enterprises linked to agrarian transformation
• Movement away from the project approach (ISRDP approach)
towards a more integrated programme approach covering
larger target groups and areas
• Investment in infrastructure directly productive infrastructure
such as irrigation systems, while roads must connect the
production areas with markets.
Some Key Imperatives
• Establishment of the Department of Rural
Development and Land Reform (RDLR) a highly
positive development
• Need for a Rural Development Act to pull together
all important elements of strategy, policy and
• Speedy creation of rural development cluster system
and movement towards stronger co-ordination also
• Incipient movement away from the unsustainable
project approach also positive
Some Key Imperatives
• Need to address capacity issues for implementation
more effectively through targeted recruitment of
project level staff and their deployment to all
• Project and programme staff a critical factor for
success or failure extension officers and community
development workers (CDWs)
• Clear definition of role of local government
• Partnerships - e.g. WSU-Mhlontlo Municipality; UFH
and surrounding communities
• Factoring in of indigenous knowledge systems
Some Key Imperatives: Presettlement Support
•Provision of systematic and in-depth training, covering all
relevant subjects such as management of farming enterprises,
working with different crops and livestock categories and breeds,
practical production techniques, financial management and
labour relations
•As government correctly asserts, the role of agricultural colleges
in spurring on the process of agrarian transformation is going to
be critical and pivotal
•Scientific research through agricultural colleges and research
stations following international best practice such as China
where these institutions provide direct support to the producers,
with the students doing their practical field work among the
producers under the supervision of their lecturers and
experienced researchers
The New Co-operative Thrust in SA
•A wide range of government departments such as the DTI,
Department of Higher Education, Labour, Agriculture Forestry
and Fisheries, Social Development, Defence and Military
Veterans are actively working towards establishment of cooperatives
• A number of institutions such as SEDA, NEDLAC, COSATU and
many others are also playing a pivotal role
• National Treasury is working on the establishment of a Cooperative Bank
• Existing legislation and policies are being revised to provide
inter alia for the establishment of a Co-operatives Development
Agency and an apex body that will represent all co-operatives in
the country
Agricultural Co-operatives
Success stories in Africa and Asia show that co-operatives:
• Enable their members to become active and meaningful
participants in local and national economies, and they
promote socio-economic development
• They help create employment and the development of human
resources as they provide training opportunities for nonskilled and skilled members
• Provide an organisational framework to deliver cheaply
interventions aimed at assisting members to access services
such as extension and input supply and facilitate access to
financial services
• Smooth income flow to members through bulk marketing and
collective negotiation, collective investment in machinery, as
well as promote economies of scale
Agricultural Co-operatives
•They facilitate expansion of productive activity and
diversification to agro-processing and other forms of value
addition, and enable the producers to sell in processed form
commodities previously sold in raw form very near to the farm
gate, which in turn promotes entrepreneurship
• Ease pressure and over-dependency on the government with
regard to provision of housing, healthcare, electrification
• Enhance family and social values, and promote peace and
security within communities by lessening social tensions and
discouraging deviant behaviour
• Promote social cohesion and peer monitoring
Challenges facing Agricultural Cooperatives in SA
• Inculcation of a culture and mindset of
• How to ensure effective participation by
communities and avoid the dominance that is often
exercised by prominent individuals
• How to get local government to interface effectively
with the institutions supporting co-operatives and to
play a meaningful and effective role
• High failure rate among co-operatives
Challenges facing Agricultural Cooperatives in SA
• A strong co-operative movement would ensure a
strong movement towards rural development
• This would also support the democratisation of the
South African economy right down to the village level
• How do we assist the state bureaucracy to drive the
process of creating a strong co-operative movement,
through facilitation not prescription? How to harness
the youth and empower them through co-operatives
• Low asset resource base among communities
Challenges facing Agricultural Cooperatives in SA
• How to empower the youth through cooperatives
• Low asset resource base among communities
• General lack of knowledge and skills
• Ineffective funding models
• Current handout mentality and culture of
• Ineffective training methods
Co-operatives and the Bottom-up
•The current situation is characterised by the general lack of
organisation among communities vis-à-vis formal government
structures, particularly at the provincial and municipal levels
•The current turn-around in the process of eradication of poverty
in Brazil is being propelled by social movements which have
empowered themselves through learning and other capacity
building initiatives
• Co-operatives are a central factor in this turn-around process
• In other words the main driver of development is
empowerment and not always policies developed in top-down
Co-operatives and the Bottom-up
•This has created a situation where, because they are not
organised, communities are in a weak position and cannot
represent their interests effectively
•It has also provided good ground for the top-down model to
•It must be acknowledged that there have been many efforts by
a range of civil society organisations but these have been largely
•In countries like Brazil and Mexico as well as Uganda and Ghana
co-operative movements emerged and thrived under conditions
of dictatorship, repression political strife
• The building of a co-operative movement in SA has to occur
under conditions of democracy
Co-operatives and the Bottom-up
•A strong co-operative movement will give the masses
a strong institutional voice to represent their interests
effectively vis-à-vis formal structures of government, to
challenge and contend/negotiate
• Presently communities are just told to establish a
committee of representatives which in many instances
is an amorphous structure not linked to productive
•Lack of empowerment of communities to drive their
own development as co-implementers of projects and
programmes alongside government
Co-operatives and the Bottom-up
•The critical element is that communities must become
real owners of their development projects
•How to ensure that the interests of the communities
are not left only to their elected representatives at the
local and provincial levels, but they also have a strong
institutional voice to represent their interests
• But is it right that a co-operative movement should be
created and sustained by the government?
Key Determinants of Sustainability
• The most important factor in rural development is the
development of the income-generating capacity of
• Mobilising funding from various sources, including the private
sector underpinned by a clear investment model
• Innovative governance 1 – encouraging communities to
establish their own structures and not rely solely on
government and traditional structures
• Innovative governance 2 – establishing a legal framework that
mandates DRDLR to co-ordinate rural development
Key Determinants of Sustainability
• Locally-based planning should not be informed by a one size
fits all approach – each locality has its unique features
• Technical capacity needs to be mobilised more aggressively
through leveraging of strong strategic partnerships
• Co-operatives should be located at the centre of rural
development modelling as they would serve as the key drivers
of socio-economic development
• Autonomy, self-help, peer-monitoring and innovation are key
propellants of co-operatives
• With the exception of China where the CCP is the sole
organisational form, social movements are playing a key role
in propelling rural development in emerging markets
Key Determinants of Sustainability
• To move away from culture of entitlement through handouts,
a subsidy based funding model for programme beneficiaries is
essential but it must go hand in hand with an ‘own
contribution’ component
• Households/communities must also be prepared to take risk
• Major focus of resources should be put on extension services
to support productive activities of co-operatives
• Training should move away from the classroom-based type
towards more interactive approaches such as Paolo Freire’s
Dialogical Approach
• Research backing for the CRDP is essential
Thank You