Speaker: Mvu Ngcoya
Date: Thursday 8 August 2019
Time: 12h30 – 14h00
Venue: CCS Seminar Room A726, Level 7, Shepstone, Howard College, UKZN

Topic

There are numerous reasons why Cuba offers useful counterpoints to South Africa’s endless and pitiful agrarian reforms. Like South Africa, until recently, Cuba had an unworkable land model that denied large portions of society ownership of land and security of tenure. But in the 1990s the Cuban government embarked on an unprecedented land reform programme that revolutionised small-scale farming and redistributed land to smaller farms. Again, much like South Africa today, prior to 1989, the Cuban agricultural sector was characterised by a large-scale agricultural model that prioritised extensive mono-cropping, high levels of external industrial inputs, widespread mechanisation, and large-scale irrigation. Following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, the island went through a terrible food crisis that forced Cuba to undertake a comprehensive overhaul of its agricultural systems in the 1990s. Yet in just a quarter century, there is growing evidence that Cuba has reversed the negative effects of the food crisis of the early 1990s and gained a degree of food sovereignty. The old model has been supplanted by a low-energy, agro-ecological sustainable agriculture system. In this seminar, Mvu discusses the factors that led to this incredible overhaul and draws some lessons for South Africa. The findings are based on research he conducted during a five-month visit to Cuba in 2018-19.

Speaker Bio

Mvu teaches in the Development Studies programme in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (SBEDS) where he has been since 2010. Agrarian issues such as land, land reform, small-scale agriculture, rural development, etc. form the kernel of his research interests.

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