A geographical study of agricultural change since the 1930s in Shixini Location, Gatyana district, Transkei

Andrew, Maura (1992) A geographical study of agricultural change since the 1930s in Shixini Location, Gatyana district, Transkei. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

This study examines the dynamics of agricultural change amongst traditional African smallholder farmers in Shixini location, Gatyana District, Transkei. This entailed an examination of the historical, regional and local causes of agricultural change and the response of the local community. What became evident was that there had been a gradual decline in agricultural output after the 1930s due to a combination of socio-economic and environmental constraints. Pressure on limited resources and land degradation, a consequence of socio-economic pressures on the African peasantry and agricultural expansion, reduced carrying capacities and soil fertility within the African reserves. Racially discriminatory policies also reduced African access to agricultural markets and forced peasants into migrant labour. The initial response to this agricultural decline was to maintain cultivation and pastoral practices, despite declining output, and rely more heavily on migrant labour. However, massive population ~owth from the mid 1950s onwards stimulated a rapid change in cultivation practices. Rural households found it increasingly difficult to gain access to arable land in river valleys and growing poverty undermined their ability to cultivate fields. In response to these conditions the rural population abandoned their fields and expanded garden cultivation. Garden cultivation was a more intensive method of cultivation which made more efficient use of household resources, maintained long-term yields and had a less detrimental impact on the soil. This study attempts to make a contribution to southern African historiography and historical geography. Since the rise of radical human geography in the 1970s there has been a growing number of political economy studies focusing on capitalist expansion, racially discriminatory state policies and associated class conflicts in South Africa. However, most of these studies have focused on urban communities. The political economy of African rural areas has been sorely neglected by human geographers despite the enormous growth of such studies amongst historians and other social scientists. This study of agricultural change in Shixini location, Transke~ adds to the small collection of geographical research on the political economy of African rural areas. It also adds to the large body of historical research by focusing on the recent past, a much less well documented period. The most important component of the study was an examination of the response of the rural community to socio-economic and environmental changes. This brought the often neglected role of human agency within the world political economy into the study. Environmental factors, often neglected by'historians and human geographers, were also brought into the analysis. The examination of such a broad range of factors was facilitated through the use of a wide variety of source material including historical, anthropological and socio-economic literature, official statistics, archival records, aerial photographs and a sample survey.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Agriculture, Transkei, South Africa, Land tenure, Rural
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Geography
ID Code:2353
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:13 Jan 2012 12:27
Last Modified:13 Jan 2012 12:27
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