Editor's Note

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Land and water are fundamental to agriculture. It’s easy to agree that farming without them is almost unimaginable. At the same time, land and water have become extremely problematic. In both cases, it’s a question of supply.

Is land really in short supply? Whether or not there’s enough land to go around, it’s clear that access to land remains a stumbling block to the aspirations of many. For some, the willing-buyer, willing-seller scenario has had its day. But is expropriation without compensation the answer? The case to the contrary has been strongly argued by the likes of TAU and Agri SA, who claim that the Constitution affords every means to redress the situation without running the risk of destabilising the entire agricultural value chain. Read their contributions to this issue and form your own conclusions.

Water, or the lack of it, has had a severe impact on agricultural output in the Western Cape. Expect the price of South African wine to go up sharply! Beyond that, however, the crisis has brought into question the relationship between people and water. Water for agriculture often comes from the same sources as the municipal supply, which means that residents and farmers are effectively competing. It seems unfair to ask farmers to sacrifice their livelihoods for the sake of the water-guzzling city, but without the city, the entire regional economy would collapse.

Fortunately, it is possible to farm successfully with much less water. By acting as stewards of the land, instead of treating land as an input in an industrial process, farmers can beat the drought, as the case of Boschendal illustrates.

Wishing you a good read and good fortune in 2018.

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