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Cape Peninsula University of Technology (2020)

Roles and impacts of extension services on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers during drought periods in the Western Cape, South Africa

Carelsen, Coleridge Paul Ricardo

Titre : Roles and impacts of extension services on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers during drought periods in the Western Cape, South Africa

Auteur : Carelsen, Coleridge Paul Ricardo

Université de soutenance : Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Grade : Master of Agriculture 2020

Résumé
The Western Cape Province of South Africa has experienced extreme droughts for the past century. The livelihoods of the rural communities have been affected the worst, especially smallholder farmers. Supporting smallholder farmers is an essential element in sustaining their livelihoods and poverty alleviation in rural South Africa. Understanding the different types of smallholder farmers would allow service providers to act according to the needs of the farmers. The study was conducted in the districts of the Overberg and the West Coast of the Western Cape Province. The objectives of the study were to characterise and classify smallholder farmers, to investigate the roles of public and private sector institutions in supporting smallholder farmers during drought periods and to investigate the effectiveness of public and private extension services in supporting smallholder farmers in these two districts. Questionnaires were used to collect quantitative data, while focus group discussions were used to collect qualitative information. Findings revealed that the farmers were a highly heterogeneous group as reflected by the diversity in terms of education levels and the contribution of farming income to their livelihoods. Organisations struggled with bureaucratic procedures of the government and were largely reactive in terms of their responses to managing drought. The bureaucratic processes of the government also undermined non-governmental organisations that were linked with farmer organisations and could organise farmers locally and respond more robustly to disasters such as droughts. The extension staff from the public sector participated in the implementation of the Extension Recovery Plan and successfully improved their education levels and resources to address the quality of extension services delivered to the smallholder farmers in the study area. Private extension services were profit-driven and rendered cost-recovery extension services. It is recommended that extension services consider the diversity of smallholder farmers when drafting farmer support programmes and policies. A range of support programmes and opportunities should be made available when supporting smallholder farmers to render such support services relevant because the needs of these farmers vary. The government needs to invest and provide more support for the implementation of disaster management strategies and policies, especially at a local level and to empower non-government organisations to assist with disaster response programmes that include droughts.

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