A BLOG DOCUMENTING THE PROJECT
Welcome to the first in what hopefully will be a series of weekly updates published for the duration of the project. Each member of the team completes a custom-designed Google form at the end of each working week which enables us to monitor and report on progress. Our aim is to publish blog updates which reveal how we have planned our work, and which highlights key questions, challenges and strategic issues as they arise.
All sorts of things have been on the go in Weeks 18 and 19.
Developing a farmer profiling form
Nationally the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is involved in the ongoing registration of farmers and agricultural producers. This activity is being carried out in partnership with Stats SA. However, access to the data collected during the registration process is restricted. This poses several questions for land reform and agricultural planning at local municipality scale which involves multiple actors:
In the meantime, Phuhlisani NPC has been able to obtain a blank copy of the farmer/producer registration form which is being used as the basis for the national registration process. We have created a version of that form (with some adjustments) to use as part of a farmer profiling activity in Matzikama. A PDF version of the blank form can be downloaded here.
In Week 19 we ran some test interviews with small producers in Matzikama. Farmer profiling forms part of the ‘know the farmer’ methodology which we are conceptualising as a foundational element of the land reform and local agricultural planning process.
In a recent post on the Zimbabweland blog, land and livelihoods researcher Ian Scoones has been cautioning against the promises of ‘silver bullet’ technical/farming system solutions arguing that “a more systems perspective that appreciates the complex performance of farming is urgently needed” – one that recognises diversity and is premised on multiple pathways to sustainability. Some of the core idea behind such an approach are summarised in a recent Steps Centre explainer: What are pathways to sustainability? This suggests that identifying multiple pathways forms a key part of strategy. These pathways need to be identified by listening to different voices, recognising people’s values, understanding their livelihoods, the landscapes they operate in and the uncertainties they face. This requires a shift from expert analytic based approaches to those which draw on different methods which are participatory and deliberative.
Figure 1 Screen grab from STEPSCentre video
The ‘know the farmer’ approach starts by trying to assemble diverse portraits of those currently involved in agricultural production at different scales and with different objectives. It also has to find a way to identify and profile people who are not currently producing and lack any access to land.
This aims to provide a foundation for more interactive processes to identify appropriate options and explore different pathways. However, it is clear that there remains a huge gap between the types of processes and approaches advocated here and the difficult realities on the ground. The approach is premised on a degree of flexibility which state institutions, policies and support mechanisms are often unable to entertain. Part of our challenge is to explore possibilities and innovations with potential to narrow this gap.
Other issues arising from interviews and meetings with both small and larger scale commercial farmers include:
We have made a start with a preliminary mapping of the different sources of information and data on land and agriculture in Matzikama. Our aim is begin to put together a data catalogue and to share information about who has what data and the extent to which this is open and shareable.
Figure 2: Mapping the land related information ecosystem
Getting our blog up on the CBPEP website
We have received a green light from the CBPEP programme to host this blog. We are investigating ways to be able to easily update persons sitting on the project reference group and the different stakeholder forums and to try to extend some of the learnings generated by the process more widely.
More next week.