One of the great puzzles of development work is the way money can easily be spent without much result. In South Africa, government development work in rural villages is oriented to food security and sustainable agriculture. Despite the good intentions of the post-apartheid period, problems with ineffective rural strategies persist. In this paper I want to trace the dominance of “entrepreneurialism” as a strategy for agricultural development in the villages, to suggest the problems which that sets in train and an alternative strategy that could be more effective. When I write of the entrepreneurialist discourse I mean that the aim of almost all projects is nothing less than to turn every poor villager into an entrepreneur, running a (very) small agricultural business competing on the market to sell their agricultural products. Typically, this is aim is to be realized by a small agricultural cooperative, whose members are recruited from the ‘poorest of the poor’ within the village. Within the departments of agriculture, this goal is constantly at the forefront. Every project becomes an attempt to set up a successful business and as this endeavour fails we are left with nothing. More practicable projects designed to make subsistence agriculture work end up being left out.
Annual Conference of the Australian Sociological Association, 2009 (TASA 2009). The Future of Sociology: the Annual Conference of the Australian Sociological Association 2009 (Canberra 1-4 December, 2009)