In this chapter the history of the agricultural sector from the early part of the twentieth century up to the period leading to the 1994 election is described. Three trends are discussed. First, a period of territorial and racial segregation at the beginning of the century; the second, a period of modernization of white agriculture and the last trend was the reversal of the distortionary policies of the 1960's and 1970's. Particular attention is paid to the changes in agricultural policy during the 1980's. History has shown that neither racial discrimination nor price distortions in the South African agriculture could be sustained, but despite the changes in policy and legislature not much has changed in terms of improved equality and living conditions for the rural poor.