FHISER Seminar: Debating Deagrarianisation in the Eastern Cape

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On 4 November, Professor Paul Hebinck, Associate Professor at Wegeningen University in the Netherlands and Adjunct Professor at the University of Fort Hare, presented a seminar entitled: Debating Deagrarianisation in the Eastern Cape.

The seminar was hosted by the Fort Hare Institute of Social and Economic Research (FHISER) and took place at the Phyllis Ntantala Collaborative Library in East London.

Prof Hebinck is a rural development sociologist with vast knowledge in land and land-related issues, agrarian reform, agriculture, rural development and rural livelihood as well as re-agrarianisation and re-peasantisation. His fieldwork experience spans over 30 years in countries such as West Kenya, Eastern Cape, Zimbabwe and most recently, Namibia.

His presentation was very insightful. Using aerial photographs and data from interviews he conducted during his fieldwork, the presentation dwelled on longitudinal research on the use of landscape and the nature of rural livelihoods in two Eastern Cape villages, Koloni and Guquka.

The audience consisted of students and academics who were captivated as Prof Hebinck narrated stories of villagers and how the landscape contributes immensely to their livelihood.  He gave the audience a sneak preview into how villagers use landscapes for cropping and cultivation practices, as well as gathering of wild plants.

He ended the presentation with a heartfelt plea for more emphasis and debate about deagrarianisation and reactivation of land.

“We need to take re-agrarianisation seriously as much as we need to take deagrarianisation seriously. There is need for more emphasis on government policies and academic debate about the reactivation of land,” said Prof Hebinck.

According to him there is need to revisit the idea that homelands are backward and stagnating regions, and to open our eyes and see homelands as spaces of opportunity.

The highly informative presentation was followed by a rich and vigorous engagement among members of the audience.