HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Rome, Italy or Virtually from your home or work.
AGRI 2023

Sihle Pokwana

Sihle Pokwana, Speaker at Agriculture Conferences
Rhodes University, South Africa
Title : Evaluating social effects of arable field abandonment in communal areas in South Africa


Cultivation in rural areas contributes to agricultural stability and food security at household, community, and national levels, and also in maintaining diversity of rural landscapes (Scherr et al. 2007; Diaz et al. 2011). Moreover, cultivating fields gives rural communities a sense of belonging and identity; it brings communities together and gives a sense socio-economic stability through agricultural productivity (Shackleton and Luckert, 2015). However, field cultivation is declining in many rural areas due to a number of factors. This poses significant changes for the future and uncertainty of food and livelihood security of rural areas. It poses threats to the natural environment and to local livelihoods. This calls for research to understand the processes and implications. Increasing field cultivation of rural areas in South Africa could be a strategy against the high levels of poverty and food insecurity (Rogan, 2017). 

Reversing or limiting field abandonment is essential also in meeting sustainable development goals on poverty reduction and protecting life on land. The sustainable development goals on poverty eradication aim to end poverty in all its forms for all people everywhere. Moreover, on protecting life on land, they state that biodiversity must be protected, and ecosystems stabilized. These will assist in increasing agricultural productivity and assist in eradicating extreme poverty for rural communities. Therefore, it is essential to conduct research that will seek to inform the reasons behind diminishing field cropping in communal areas of South Africa, despite pro-agricultural policies nationally (Shackleton et al. 2019). This research must be undertaken at appropriate spatial and temporal scales which will include knowledge from the ground with long term analyses (Shackleton et al. 2019). Moreover, it is important to evaluate which actors are most affected by agricultural field abandonment, is it the small-scale farmers who have discontinued farming, their households, agricultural supply companies or local institutions, this understanding will provide information for more targeted responses from policy makers, local and higher institutions (Shackleton et al. 2019).

Audience Take Away Notes

  • Identify any trends in field cultivation in the rural areas of South Africa.
  • Compare livelihood strategies of farming households with those households who have given up agriculture and determine how livelihoods and household's dynamics have changed within the households who have ceased cultivation.
  • Determine the importance of agriculture by evaluating whether livelihoods have improved of otherwise with the decrease in cultivation.

This will help the audience decide whether there is a need to invest in agriculture for the future, whether the youth should be encouraged to take up agriculture or they should be motivated to take up skills in other sectors. This research will be useful as it will help decide whether agriculture is a subject that needs more attention or less in current years. It will look at the drivers and pressures of ceasation or uptake of agriculture and how its play an important role in shaping livelihoods.


Ms Sihle Pokwana studied Bachelor of Science in Agriculture majored in Crop Science and Horticultural Science at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa and graduated in 2016, during the same year of graduation she took up Honours in Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Horticultural Science and graduated the Honours 2017. In 2017 while doing an internship at Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development under a unit of risk and disaster management she was at the same time pursuing Masters in Forest Management and the Environment at University of Pretoria in South Africa supervised by professor Paxie Chirwa and Philip Tshidzumba which she obtained in 2019. After graduating for Masters she went on to register PhD in Environmental science with Rhodes University which she is currently finalising under the supervision of professor Charlie Shackleton. Currently she works as an assistant director monitoring and evaluations at National Disaster Management Centre in South Africa.

Signup for updates

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive emails and notifications from Magnus Group. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the Safe Unsubscribe link, found at the bottom of every email