Beyond Food Production
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Beyond Food Production

The Role of Agriculture in Poverty Reduction

Edited by Fabrizio Bresciani and Alberto Valdés

The importance of agricultural growth to poverty reduction is well known, but the specific channels through which the poor can take advantage of growth require further research. Beyond Food Production takes on this challenge, investigating four important channels: rural labor markets, farm incomes, food prices, and linkages to other economic sectors.
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Chapter 8: South Africa

Johann Kirsten, Julian May, Sheryl Hendriks, Charles L. Machethe, Cecelia Punt and Mike Lyne


Johann Kirsten, Julian May, Sheryl Hendriks, Mike Lyne, Charles L. Machethe and Cecilia Punt 8.1 INTRODUCTION A systematic investigation of the agricultural growth–poverty relationship requires identification of the main channels through which agricultural growth has an impact on poverty and an understanding of the conditions under which these channels operate effectively. The main channels through which agricultural growth potentially can contribute to poverty reduction are: (i) a general equilibrium effect through the increase of unskilled labour wage rate and employment; (ii) an increase in smallholders’ income; (iii) higher agricultural output leading to lower food prices; and (iv) forward/backward linkage effects which spur non-farm income growth and investment in agro-industries and other downstream activities. The objective of this study is to analyse the contribution of agriculture in South Africa towards poverty alleviation and food security through each of these potential channels/mechanisms. The analysis relies largely on secondary studies and some reassessment of data collected in earlier years. This study also highlights the food security contribution of agriculture and illustrates how agricultural activity in rural households influences household food security. 8.2 THE EXTENT, DISTRIBUTION AND NATURE OF POVERTY IN POST-APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA In 1993 almost half of South Africa’s population were categorised as poor using a national poverty line, and one-fifth earned less that $1 per day 188 South Africa 189 (Klasen, 1997). Over 60 percent of Africans were poor compared to just 1 percent of the white population. Woolard and Leibbrandt (2001) use a...

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