n the nearly three decades since South Africa embraced democracy, the nation finds itself at a crossroads in its agricultural sector. A stark divide between two agricultures has persisted, raising pressing questions about equality, economic growth, and food security. Wandile Sihlobo, Chief Economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz) and author of “Finding Common Ground: Land, Equity & Agriculture,” delves into these issues in his latest book, “A Country of Two Agricultures.”
The Historical Roots of Disparity
The disparities in South Africa’s agriculture have deep historical roots. Decades of government neglect, land dispossession, and livestock plunder have marginalized black farmers, creating a subsistence, non-commercial segment struggling for survival. In contrast, a predominantly white commercial farming sector enjoys abundant resources and access to both domestic and international trade networks.
A Focus on the Present and Future
Sihlobo’s book shifts the focus from history to the present and future, analyzing why these disparities persist in the democratic era and what it will take to bridge the gap. It offers valuable insights into the forces shaping South African agriculture, considering domestic political dynamics and external factors. Beyond shedding light on the challenges, the book equips government, the private sector, and those interested in South Africa’s economic growth with tools to address this duality.
A Framework for Growth and Competitiveness
One of the book’s key contributions is the proposal of a framework for bolstering the black farming segment. Sihlobo’s vision is not only to reduce disparities but also to enhance growth, competitiveness, and ultimately food security. By blending agricultural and political economy perspectives with the experiences of farming communities, he presents a comprehensive roadmap for progress.
Expert Praise for “A Country of Two Agricultures”
Nick Vink, Emeritus Professor in Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University, hails the book as “a tightly argued and highly convincing” work that is bound to stimulate productive discussions and drive meaningful change.
A Visionary Economist and Advisor
Wandile Sihlobo’s extensive experience in the field of agricultural economics, coupled with his role as a member of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Presidential Economic Advisory Council, underscores the relevance and credibility of his insights. His commitment to addressing South Africa’s agricultural disparities resonates through his work, making “A Country of Two Agricultures” a must-read for anyone invested in the nation’s future.
As South Africa grapples with these agricultural disparities, Sihlobo’s book offers not just a critical assessment of the challenges but also a blueprint for a more equitable, prosperous, and food-secure future.