Most of South Africa’s black rural population resides in the former homelands or bantustans, commonly referred to as communal areas by the post-apartheid government (Clark and Luwaya 2017).
Among a variety of subsistence activities in which black rural households engage, livestock production provides multiple-use value, although its contribution to local livelihoods is sometimes underestimated (CM Shackleton et al. 2005) .
Some of the goals that livestock production in black rural areas seeks to achieve include “the payment of dowry, ritual and ceremonial slaughter, meat, milk, occasional cash sales and savings, and the provision of draft power and manure as inputs for agricultural production” (Cousins 2018:373). Indeed, CM Shackleton et al. (2005) and Twine (2013) found that livestock production is a critical asset that enables black rural households to spread livelihood risks and build resilience.
Given its wide range of benefits, it is not surprising to note that approximately 1.11 million black households were involved in livestock production as part of subsistence or market-oriented agriculture between 2009 and 2015 (Cousins 2018). The enormous contributions that livestock production makes to rural livelihoods in communal areas perhaps explains why it is seen as a way to reduce high levels of poverty and inequality through the injection of effective policies (Hall and Cousins 2013).