Municipal commonage and implications for land reform: A profile of commonage users in Philippolis, Free State, South Africa
This paper reports on a survey of municipal commonage users, which was undertaken in Philippolis in the southern Free State, in May 2005. The survey showed that a significant number of commonage users are committed to their farming enterprises, as shown by five proxy indicators: Their readiness to plough their income into their farming enterprises; their sale of livestock; their desire for more land, and their willingness to pay rental to secure such land; their desire to farm on their own; and their desire to own their own land. The paper reflects on the significance of commonage in the context of the South African government’s land reform policy, and argues that commonage can transcend survivalist or subsistence production, and can be used as a “stepping stone” for emergent farmers to access their own land parcels. Finally, the paper argues that, if commonage is to become a key part in a “step-up” strategy of land reform, then appropriately sized land parcels should be made available for commonage users, to enable them to “exit” from commonage use and invest in smallholdings or small farms.