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University of Fort Hare (2013)

Impact of human dimensions on smallholder farming in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa

Kibirige, Douglas

Titre : Impact of human dimensions on smallholder farming in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa

Auteur : Kibirige, Douglas

Université de soutenance : University of Fort Hare

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2013

Considering the backward and forward linkages, the agro-industrial sector contributes about 12 percent of South Africa‘s GDP, and employs approximately 8.5 million people. In the Eastern Cape Province, the sector contributes about 1.9 percent of the Provincial GDP, and over 3 million people derive their livelihoods from subsistence smallholder farming. Despite its importance, agricultural productivity has stagnated for several years across the Eastern Cape rural communities. There have been several attempts by the government to improve the agricultural productivity on smallholder farms since the end of apartheid, especially through the establishment of small-scale irrigation schemes, subsidization of farm inputs, and provision of credit facilities and enacting a number of land reform policies. In spite of the government support, most rural communities like Qamata and Tyefu are still faced with high levels of poverty affecting 76 percent and 91 percent of the population, respectively. This research evaluated the current smallholders‘ production efficiency, and the link between smallholder farmers‘ human dimensions (entrepreneurial spirit and positive psychological capital, goals and social capital, and other efficiency related variables) with production efficiency and household commercialisation index/level. The study used participatory approaches for site selection, sample selection and data collection. The analysis was based on both information from informal interviews and formal primary data collection. The Data Envelopment Analysis and Stochastic Production Frontier techniques were used to determine the relative efficiencies of individual farmers and to identify the major factors that influence the efficiency of production. Overall, 158 farmers were interviewed both at Qamata and Tyefu irrigation schemes. Descriptive statistics of this study indicated that most of the farmers were men with an average age of 61 years, and mean household size of 4 persons with the household head having at least obtained some primary school education. Farming is the major source of livelihood for smallholders with an average income of R4527.49 per crop season. Smallholders use improved seeds, fertilizers and tractor for ploughing with less use of pesticides and herbicides. Although smallholder irrigators generate more gross margins from maize and cabbage enterprises, generally both categories of farmers exhibited a low average household commercialization index for maize and cabbage at 0.41 and 0.22, respectively. Both Data Envelopment Analysis and Stochastic Production Frontier results indicate that farmers are about 98 percent technically efficient in maize and cabbage enterprises, respectively. However, farmers were allocatively inefficient as they were under-utilizing seed and pesticides while over-utilizing inorganic fertilizers. Factors that are positively associated with technical efficiency in maize production included household size, farming experience, off-farm income, use of agro-chemical ; gross margins and commercialisation level of maize output. Determinants of technical efficiency in cabbage enterprise included farming experience, amount of land owned, use of agro-chemicals, group membership and gross margins accrued to cabbage sales. Farmers‘ human dimensions that could be more positively and significantly associated with production, efficiency and household commercialisation level included risk taking (hope), innovativeness (confidence) and optimism for entrepreneurial/positive psychological capital. Farmers‘ goals included self-esteem and independence, and only external social capital which were identified to be more positively and significantly associated with farmers‘ production efficiency and commercialization level. The transition from homestead subsistence to commercial oriented small-scale irrigation farming is inevitable since smallholder irrigators earn more incomes from maize and cabbage and are relatively food secure. However, the key policy options that must be considered to address inefficiencies and improved commercialization level to aid the transition include : agricultural policies geared toward attracting youth in farming, improved quality of extension services, speeding up the land reform process, and formation of cooperatives and participatory policy formulation that takes full cognizance of the farmers‘ human dimensions. Since farmers‘ human dimensions as defined in the literature and this study are not things that are amenable to direct policy intervention, they can only be modified indirectly through policy actions that affect their determinants. This means that a number of the demographic and socio-economic characteristics such as age, sex and education level of household head, farming experience, size of land owned, crop incomes, source of water for irrigation and location of the irrigation scheme that govern the way people perceive reality and respond to them must be the focus of concerted policy actions over the medium to long term.

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Page publiée le 25 juin 2017