News & events


Consensual but Radical Land Reform?

12 April 2018
12:30 - 14:30

Date: 12 April 2018    

Time: 12:30 – 14:30     

Venues: Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town

Presentation available for download below:

In South Africa, farmland redistribution is crucial for social justice as well as poverty reduction and employment. But will it harm food security or production? There’s evidence that in high-unemployment areas small, not-too-unequal smallholdings, in the wake of carefully considered land reform, are conducive to productive, dynamic agricultures.

Such evidence apart, we need to recall big facts:
Africa and Asia’s trend to smaller farms;
Successful smallholder-based green revolutions after land reform (China – and India).

However, complementarities between small and large farms may be key to productive impact from smallholder-based land reform. If so, can S Africa have consensual but radical land reform, especially if underused big farms are near areas of land hunger?

Problem areas for farmland redistribution include: the role of communal lands; environmental impact; conflicting land laws; integration of land reform with water; implementation and services issues; and above all the need for farmland reform to be demand-led. In these areas too, there are lessons from international experience.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the main sponsor of this seminar and a related project focusing on options for equitable farmland redistribution in South Africa.

Professor Michael Lipton is a global expert on the dynamics of land reform and smallholder agricultural development, nutrition and poverty, economic demography and development theory. With research leadership spanning roughly half a century in Africa and Asia, Prof Lipton received the prestigious Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2012. His 1996 co-edited volume ‘Land, Labour and Livelihoods in Rural South Africa’ remains a key reference in contemporary land reform debates. Lipton’s 2010 book, ‘Land Reform in Developing Countries: property rights and property wrongs’ is a critical reflection on the past and fresh thinking for farmland redistribution in the 21st Century and beyond.

Pretoria: HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Contact : Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail:

Cape Town: HSRC, Merchant House 116-118 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town. Contact : Carmen Erasmus, Tel: (021) 466 7827, e-mail:

Durban: The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001. Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel: (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786, e-mail:

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