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University of Pretoria (2018)

Climate change and avocado production : A case study of the Limpopo province of South Africa

Randela, Mulalo Queen

Titre : Climate change and avocado production : A case study of the Limpopo province of South Africa

Auteur : Randela, Mulalo Queen

Université de soutenance : University of Pretoria

Grade : MAgric (Agricultural Economics) 2018

Climate change is a major concern worldwide, given its projected impact on agricultural production, especially in semi-arid environments. The production of subtropical fruits, including avocado, in South Africa is also expected to be highly vulnerable to climate variability and change. The country is experiencing unseasonal intense summer rain and drought, with drought having the worst record for the past 30 years in the 2015/16 production seasons. The avocado industry in South Africa contributes immensely to the economy as an enabler food security through job creation for the majority of individuals who are living in rural areas. The industry contributes about 10% of employment opportunities in the country’s formal sector. It employs a permanent farm labour force of around 6000 and another 2000 casual labourers during peak times. Amongst the challenges that the avocado industry is facing is the decrease in production in recent times. In response, this study is designed to assess the impacts of climate variability and change on the production of avocados in the Limpopo province. It also assesses the adaptation strategies for farmers that might boost their economic returns. The study used both primary and secondary data. Primary data was collected in the avocado producing districts of Limpopo province. A sample comprised 46 respondents who were interviewed, using structured survey questionnaires that contained both open- and closed-ended questions. These questionnaires aimed at gaining more details on the farmer’s perspective on how climate change is influencing the sustainability of avocado production. The data was then analysed using descriptive statistics. The secondary data, which is the climatic data, was obtained from the ARCISCW ; from their 94 weather stations around Limpopo province, four stations around the subtropical areas were randomly chosen. Avocado production data over the years was obtained from the South African Subtropical Growers Association. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of the respondents acknowledged that the pattern of weather has been changing over the past years and that these changes are having a negative impact on avocado production. The analysis of climate variables during the agricultural season showed a slight positive trend for temperature, with a decrease in precipitation. The results also showed that temperature variability over the years has had a negative and significant impact on avocado yields. There was no correlation between rainfall and avocado yields, mainly because 90% of the respondents were commercial farmers who are producing under irrigation. In conclusion, avocado production is generally more sensitive to changes in temperature than rainfall in the Limpopo province. This study thus recommends that adaptation measures that are aimed at reducing the impacts of climate change on avocado production are essential for coping with climate variability. Some of the adaptation measures are : the need for the installation of water harvesting and storage structures for the small-scale farmers who are producing on dry land ; the application of careful management techniques when faced with high summer temperatures ; the use of mulch and growth regulators to improve fruit size ; the use of windbreaks to reduce tree and fruit damage ; and the implementation of a canopy management system to improve productivity. To avoid loss, farmers may also insure their fruits


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