2. Capital, Climate and the Agricultural Precariat
3. Study Method
4. Structural Change and Labour Vulnerability in South Africa’s Agrarian Economy
5. Farm Dwellers in KZN as a Rural Precariat
5.3. The Politics of Holding on to the Land
6. A Slipping Hold? The Risk of a Double Exposure for Farm Dwellers
Conflicts of Interest
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Food prices in 2016 recorded the highest level of inflation at 11.6% (Province of KwaZulu-Natal, 2017: 14 ) while agricultural production in the KwaZulu-Natal recorded a sixth consecutive contraction in 2016 due to a severe multi-year drought (ibid, 20).
StatsSA (2016 ) records a 25.2% decline in “agricultural households” in KwaZulu-Natal between 2011 and 2016, the highest rate of decline nationally, and followed by North West with 21.6%.
There is debate about adaptation as a useful concept, however. See, for instance, Atteridge and Remling (2018 ) who suggest that adaptation is redistributing vulnerability rather than reducing it.
Cheap labour, according to Moore 2017 , was based on the disconnection of indigenous populations from the fold of ‘civilized’ people: what English colonial administrators referred to as the ‘wild’ Irish and the Castilians called the ‘Naturales’ in reference to indigenous Peruvians.
The pathways include a number of strategies for settling land rights and the providing municipal services and state housing through multi-stakeholder processes, including with land owners, and different spheres of municipal, provincial, and national government (see https://afra.co.za/current-focus-areas/).
The total number of farm dweller households in the District was calculated from Stats SA (2013 ) data which showed that in 2011 5.28% of South Africa’s population lived in designated “Farm Areas”, and of this population, 76.1% lived on commercial farms (see Visser and Ferrer, 2015: 8 ). Although the census data is old, there is no up to date data that can be used to calculate the farm dweller population. AFRA thus used these percentages to calculate the population of farm dwellers living on commercial farms as: 5.28/100 × 76.1/100 × 1,017,763, which amounted to 40,895 individuals.
Data collected on individual members of household included educational levels, gender and age, permission to be on the farm, residence on the farm, income levels and sources of income.
The data collected on households included household composition, age and gender characteristics, length of time resident on farms, use of land for livestock production and cultivation, access to basic needs and services (specifically water, energy, and housing), succession in relation to housing and perception of relationship to farmer, and whether the municipality provided services to farm dwellers.
The captured data was uploaded daily and verified and accepted by the research team leader twice a week. Errors or missing data were sent back to research assistants on a weekly basis during data collection, and then again in the seventh and eighth months when preliminary analysis and data cleaning were being undertaken.
The notion of a dualism in the agricultural economy is highly contested, with some theorists arguing that the underdevelopment of the peripheral former TBVC states is the result of capitalist development in the centre (see, for instance, Du Toit 2004 ; Cousins 2005 ; Legassick and Wolpe, 1976 ). As O’Laughlin et al (2010:5 ) put it: “the highly ‘dualistic’ but unified economic structure was articulated with and dependent on the bifurcated colonial polity”.
Despite the importance of poultry production to the province, none of the farms surveyed in the AFRA data produced poultry. The majority of interviews took place on farms producing sugar cane (39%) followed by beef cattle (23%) and forestry plantations (22%).
These categories are different from legal categories that include farm occupiers (in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997) who have rights of occupation linked to employment, farm workers (in terms of the Agricultural Sector, farm workers (Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 75 of 1997 and Agricultural Labour Act 66 of 1995) who may not be resident on the farm, and labour tenants (Land Reform Labour Tenants Act 1996) who have access to land for residence and farming in return for the provision of labour.
The definition of household is an important sociological concept as it is key to much demographic research. There are, however, a number of debated definitions (see, for instance, Amoateng 2007 ). In this paper, we follow the definition used by Wittenberg et al., (2017 ), of the household as both a social entity (as in family) and residential unit. The social entity allows investigation of family members who are absent but who consider the residential space to be ‘home’, while the physical residence is the site for service delivery, including housing, electricity, water, and sanitation. These aspects of farm dweller existence are all covered in the AFRA survey.
This was found in the case of two elderly men living alone, and who were supported with food by other farm dwellers. They both died during the data collection process.
According to Visser and Ferrer drawing mainly on national databases (2015:10 ), the 2013 work status of people living on farms showed 4.8% unemployed, 2.5% discouraged work seekers and 19.9% not economically active. National unemployment figures currently stand at 27% when only active job seekers are counted and around 37% when discouraged work seekers are included (Stats SA 2017 ).
These distinctions fluctuate over time (Bhorat et al., 2014 ) while the extent of casualisation is difficult to gauge because researchers use different definitions of temporary, including blurring differences between seasonal, contract and regular work (Visser 2016 ). Our data combines temporary and contract work understood as intermittent work with short-term contracts for specific employers. Seasonal and permanent work are separate categories, with seasonal implying short-term but seasonally regular work often for a specific task (e.g., cane cutting, planting, felling and transportation in forest plantations) and permanent meaning on-going work for the same employer, on either a full day basis or part of a day.
Primary income refers to the income that generates the highest amount of cash in a month.
This is possibly because labour contractors, who increasingly supply seasonal workers to forestry plantations (see Khosa, 2000 ) and sugar cane farms, do not employ farm dwellers but secure labour from off-farm locations.
With the increase in labour brokers, labour contractors and sub-contractors (see Khosa 2000  for the forestry sector), it is possible that farm dwellers are sidelined as a source of labour in preference to other sources of labour. However, this would require investigation.
The data on withdrawn permission was collected for all people over the age of 18 rather than at household level because young adults have reported to AFRA that they are particularly vulnerable to eviction.
In terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA, 1997), explicit evictions involve legal processes in which landowners withdraws the farm dwellers’ right to occupy the land, for reasons that include termination of labour, violations of farm rules by the farm dweller, or the landowner’s intention to make productive use of the land occupied by the farm.
In the Constitutional Court case (Daniels v Scribante and Another 2017 ZACC 13, five judges ordered that the farm dweller, Daniels, be allowed to effect renovations to her home at her own cost. They argued that “there can be no true security of tenure under conditions devoid of human dignity”, and that to fail to grant permission to renovate could inadvertently facilitate an illegal eviction because the living conditions are “intolerable”.
Just over a quarter of households who rank their relationship to the farmer as good do not have access to a bundle of services, while nearly two-thirds of farm dwellers who rank the relationship with the farmer as poor do have access to a bundle of services. In some respects, this indicates a methodological difficulty in researching the conditions that give rise to constructive evictions, as pressures exerted by land owners on farm dwellers to leave the farm can take many forms and different actions may be interpreted differently by farm dwellers and farmers.
This interpretation, which emerged in discussion with AFRA staff, was not canvassed in the survey, however.
Visser and Ferrer (2015 ), however, have disputed the emphasis NGOs place on farm dwellers’ security of tenure and argue that labour conditions and housing constitute the key concerns of farm workers.
As noted above, the ESTA closely links farm wage work with on-farm residence, placing the tenure of the farm dweller at risk if their employment is terminated (see AFRA, 2017 ). Visser and Ferrer (2015: 85 ) argue further that the state focus on litigation to prevent evictions is “misplaced” because movement off farms is the “inevitable” result of agricultural “modernisation” and tenure security without a livelihood is “not sufficient”.
Greenberg (2015 ) argues that these ties to the land and the conflict skewed ownership will produce constitutes a political imperative for land reform while the potential of agrarian reform to create small scale farming as an alternative to wage employment is an economic imperative for land reform.
A survey the Canegrowers’ Association undertook of large scale canegrowers in 2015/6 indicated that inflation adjusted revenue was 11% lower than the previous season, attributed to drought, and that growers may have reduced staff or hours as a cost-saving measure in response to the drought. Wage costs per ton of cane attributed to seasonal workers constitute 18.8% of the total wage bill, suggesting a significant proportion of low skill workers are seasonal (Canegrowers 2017 ).
Deressa et al (2005 ) for instance found that irrigation was ineffective as a KZN adaptation strategy for sugarcane, and that adaptation strategies should focus special attention on technologies and management regimes that will enhance sugarcane tolerance to warmer temperatures during winter and especially the harvesting phases.
Vertical integration can be an adaptive responses in terms of enhancing employment, particularly into downstream value-adding processes in the timber sector (National Planning Commission (NPC) 2011 ). Khosa (2000 ) also shows that there are opportunities in forestry for small contractors and sub-contractors. However, agro-processing can also be a major contributor to water and air pollution, as well as major user of water and fuel inputs.
|Total no HH||193||288||288|
|Make a Home Elsewhere||Person Working Elsewhere||Misdemeanor Committed||No Reason||Other||Total|
|Younger than 18||30||0||2||3||6||41|
|Older than 60||8||0||0||3||4||15|
|Permission to Stay on the Farm Withdrawn||Has Permission to Stay on the Farm||Total|
|Stays home most nights||178||3045||3223|
|Not home most nights||135||1063||1198|
|Relationship to Farmer||Good||Average||Poor||Total HH|
|Access to service:||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|4. Have graves||88||105||121||167||173||115||382||387|
|5. Allowed visitors||186||7||259||28||248||40||693||75|
|Male/Female Breakdown||Breakdown of Samples by Gender|
|Reasons for leaving the farm||Females||Male||Female sample||Male sample|
|Found work elsewhere||38.3%||61.6%||173 (31%)||278 (52.8%)|
|Left to live with relatives elsewhere||57.4%||48.6%||179 (32.1%)||169 (32.1%)|
|To continue education||46.6%||53.4%||48 (8.6%)||55 (10.4%)|
|To get married||86.3%||13.7%||157 (28.2%)||25 (4.7%)|
|Total (of 1084)||52%||48%||557 (100%)||527 (100%)|
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