Making Sense of Green Economy Imperatives at a Practical Level: Case Studies of Small-Scale Vegetable Production in South Africa

  • Constansia Musvoto
  • Karen Nortje
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Agriculture book series (BRIEFSAGRO)


The pivotal role of small-scale farming in a green economy is well articulated at the theoretical level. However, the practical aspects of green economy implementation in the general agricultural context are unclear. Green economy projects cannot be implemented based on green economy principles alone using a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach; but should be tailored to specific contexts. This chapter covers the practical realities of green economy implementation through analysis of the practices and experiences of small-scale vegetable farmers in South Africa. Case studies were used to understand the broad socio-economic and biophysical operating environment and the specific conditions on individual farms. Factors such as employment and livelihood provision, marketing and capacity building, production practices and the crops grown were analysed for each farm. These aspects were assessed for alignment with green economy principles and South Africa’s green economy aspirations. Production methods are a critical factor as farms which use organic production methods are better aligned with environmental green economy principles than farms which use conventional production methods. All the farms produce food, market produce and provide employment; and are aligned with several socio-economic green economy principles. Green economy implementation should be informed by practical realities on the ground and build onto compatible practices where these occur; and identify and introduce alternatives to practices which are not compatible with green economy ideals.


Organic Practices Conventional Local Context Economic development Resource efficiency Biodiversity Ecosystems Governance Poverty 



We thank the Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for facilitating the case studies and the farmers in Tzaneen for their participation. The contributions of Elliot Moyo and Benita de Wet to the field work are acknowledged.


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© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Resources and the Environment UnitCouncil for Scientific and Industrial ResearchPretoriaSouth Africa

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