Vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities contributing to food security for all

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN OUTCOME 7

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In 2030, South Africa’s rural communities are able to fully participate in the economic, social and political life of the country. They enjoy good-quality education, health care, transport and other basic services. Successful land reform, job creation and rising agricultural production have created an inclusive rural economy.

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Rural development – Downloads

Find out more about the National Development Plan.

National Development Plan – full text
National Development Plan – Chapter 6: An integrated and inclusive rural economy
Medium-Term Strategic Framework 2014 to 2019 – Outcome 7: Comprehensive rural development and land reform
Infographic: An integrated and inclusive rural economy

Rural development – The vision

The National Development Plan’s vision is that, in 2030, South Africa’s rural communities have better opportunities to participate fully in the economic, social and political life of the country.

Access to high-quality basic services ensures people well nourished, healthy and skilled. Rural economies are supported by agriculture and, where possible, by mining, tourism, agriprocessing and fisheries.

Successful land reform, infrastructure development, job creation and poverty alleviation have made rural areas better integrated.

Underdevelopment in the former homelands has been overcome by agricultural development, improved land management, infrastructure and targeted support for rural women.

By 2030:

• An additional 643 000 direct jobs and 326 000 indirect jobs have been created in the agriculture, agriprocessing and related sectors.
• A positive trade balance for primary and processed agricultural products has been maintained.

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Rural development – The challenges

South Africa’s hinterland is marked by high levels of poverty and joblessness, with limited employment in agriculture. The apartheid system forced much of the African population into barren rural reserves.

The result was an advanced and diversified commercial farming sector relying on poorly paid farm labour, and impoverished, densely populated communities with limited economic opportunities and minimal government services.

Since 1994, many rural areas and households have remained trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.

Apartheid policies inevitably resulted in fragmented and segregated development planning, severing economic, social and cultural links between prosperous urban areas and the rural hinterland.

Chronic underdevelopment, unemployment and rural-urban income inequality remains. Land is in the hands of a few, denying the majority the means of production and exacerbating inequality.

Land reform has not yet created sufficient numbers of sustainable new black farmers. Land restitution has been slow. Productive and communal land is generally under-utilised, threatening food security – particularly of households.

More than this, broad-based black economic empowerment benefits urban people, not the rural poor.

Growth in agriculture has been hampered by a lack of progress in increasing production efficiency and accessing new markets, as well as globalisation and policy uncertainty. This has led to job losses. Labour practices in the farming remain a concern: the conditions of workers have not improved enough.

Other challenges facing rural areas include:

• Under-utilisation and unsustainable use of natural resources, inadequate or lack of access to socioeconomic infrastructure and services, public amenities and government services, as well as low literacy and skills levels.
• Rural areas struggle to attract sustainable enterprises and industries, and have poor access to local markets and financial services.
• Weak coordination of planning and implementation of rural development.

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Rural development – Action required

The National Development Plan identifies six policy imperatives, which are the focus for medium-term development to 2019:
• Improved land administration and spatial planning for integrated development in rural areas
• Agrarian transformation through sustainable land reform.
• Improved food security.
• Development of and technical, financial and infrastructure support for smallholder farmers.
• Increased access to quality basic infrastructure and services in rural areas, particularly in education, healthcare and public transport.
• Growth of sustainable rural enterprises and industries characterised by strong rural-urban linkages, increased investment in agriprocessing, trade development and access to markets and financial services.

Specific action includes:

• Rural economies will be activated through improved infrastructure and service delivery, a review of land tenure, service to small and micro farmers, a review of mining industry commitments to social investment, and tourism investments.
• Substantially increase investment in irrigation infrastructure in Makhathini Flats and Umzimvubu River Basin.
• Create tenure security for communal farmers, especially women, investigate different forms of financing and vesting of private property rights to land reform beneficiaries that does not hamper beneficiaries with a high debt burden.

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Rural development – Key medium-term goals for 2019

South Africa’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (2014 to 2019) identifies the following sub-outcomes to create vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities contributing to food security for all..

• Improved land administration and spatial planning for integrated development in rural areas
• Sustainable Land Reform contributing to agrarian transformation
• Improved food security
• Smallholder producers’ development and support (technical, financial, infrastructure) for agrarian transformation
• Increased access to quality infrastructure and functional services, particularly in education, healthcare and public transport in rural areas
• Growth of sustainable rural enterprises and industries – resulting in rural job creation

Rural development – Key medium-term targets for 2019

South Africa’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (2014 to 2019) identifies the following targets to create vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities contributing to food security for all.

07 rural targetsGRAPHIC: MARY ALEXANDER

 Researched, edited and compiled by Mary Alexander
Updated December 2015