Land reform for employment creation in South Africa

Investigating how changes to the ownership and use of land in South Africa could create jobs


Which type of land use and farming systems, operating at what scales, can create the most employment? Looking at the number of jobs and the costs per job in four municipalities, this project shows how the employment-intensity of agriculture can be increased, managed and sustained.

The study looked at small-holder and small-scale black-owned commercial farms in South Africa to see where employment could be maximised. Commodities reviewed included wool, livestock, fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts and sugar cane. Areas of focus included broader issues such as climate change and international best practices.

A number of recommendations for policy and programming are made and some of the difficult choices and trade-offs facing policy-makers are discussed. The researchers suggest that government launch a small number of pilot programmes to explore the land redistribution policies the study mentions.  

More about the project

This project developed a series of policy proposals and reports around increasing the incomes and livelihoods of up to 2 million subsistence-oriented smallholders and 200 000 market-oriented smallholders.

The accompanying policy briefs assess the potential for employment-intensive land reform in South Africa and provide policy recommendations. These briefs were based on a comprehensive research report, several thematic and commodity studies along with local municipality case studies. The research findings were launched in a discussion-based webinar in June 2020, and the policy briefs and full research reports are available for download on this site.

This project explores logistics of programmes to implement these policies, including the building of appropriate institutional capacities within Government, its partners and beneficiaries. The next phase is to pilot test the implementation of the findings.

Dialogue session highlights

How timely a contribution we think this is to public debate, particularly in the context of the current COVID-19 crisis and its impact on livelihoods and food security.

Glen Fisher, CBPEP




There are a range of outputs from this project. These include policy briefs, thematic studies, commodity studies and case studies.


Policy dialogue:

A webinar was hosted by CBPEP to present the ground-breaking research on the potential of small-scale farming to promote employment generation.

This CBPEP website was created and is maintained with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of CBPEP and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.
Capacity Building Programme for Employment Promotion (CBPEP). © 2020. All Rights Reserved.