Original Articles

How economic are the farming units of Leliefontein, Namaqualand?

DOI: 10.1080/02566702.1989.9648190
Author(s): FionaM. ArcherDepartment of Botany, Republic of South Africa, M.T. HoffmanDepartment of Botany, Republic of South Africa, J.E. DanckwertsDepartment of Agriculture (Eastern Cape Region), Republic of South Africa


Nomadic pastoralism has been practised in Leliefontein for centuries. In 1984, the area was formally divided into 47 so‐called ‘economic units’ on the assumption that this agricultural approach would (a) promote development in the region and (b) introduce conservation management to these areas. The communal land tenure system was effectively abolished. We relate potential income from livestock farming in the region to costs of production and show that most of the 47 farming units of Leliefontein are, in fact, not economic farming units. Furthermore, there is little evidence to indicate that it has been the communal system per se that has been responsible for land degradation in the area. We point out that the change in land tenure, was based on technical considerations only, that the hidden costs were not adequately investigated and that the social ramifications were ignored.

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