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Stellenbosch University (2019)

Integration of information and communication technology (ICT) in the development of a recordkeeping database of smallholder sheep farming systems in the Western Cape Province of South Africa

Chiwawa, Trust

Titre : Integration of information and communication technology (ICT) in the development of a recordkeeping database of smallholder sheep farming systems in the Western Cape Province of South Africa

Auteur : Chiwawa, Trust

Université de soutenance : Stellenbosch University

Grade : Master of Science in Sustainable Agriculture 2019

Résumé
The use of smartphone technology generates new opportunities for better farm and livestock management. The constant use of traditional systems by smallholder livestock farmers for recordkeeping in developing countries faces risks of poor farm management, inbreeding, high mortality and low offtake rates. The main objective of the study was to design and develop a recordkeeping database for smallholder sheep farmers in Beaufort West and Ebenheazer communities to improve the sustainable production of sheep. A survey based on SWOT analysis and in-depth interview using a semi-structured questionnaire was conducted. It sought to identify and assess the features to include in the development of the web-application database, the challenges and benefits of the farmers current recording and recordkeeping methods. The collection of data was between April and August 2018 with 24 participants taking part in the study. The SWOT analysis and questionnaire assisted with the identification and characterization of ecological and socio-economic challenges affecting the sustainability of sheep farming in both communities. This study used a sequential exploratory mixed method approach. The approach uses both qualitative and quantitative analysis for data analysis. The farmers assisted in the design and development of the web-application by identifying important features to add on the platform and further indicated their willingness to support the development of the application. The results showed that farmers were willing to support the development of the application and using the database. In addition, the results showed that male farmers were the majority in both communities (88%), whilst about 79% indicated livestock farming as the main source of income. The majority of farmers (above 50%) reported that change in weather patterns especially drought as a challenge to sustainable sheep production. There was no association between the willingness of the farmer to use a recordkeeping database with attributes such as, level of education of the farmer, district and source of income. However, there was association between the willingness of the farmer to use a recordkeeping database and age. The younger the farmer the more a farmer was willing to use the database. The farmers also stated that traditional recording and recordkeeping using a pen and a paper was a challenge, monotonous and tiresome. The main source of acquiring information for both communities is through government extension officers (50%) followed by other farmers (28%). The study determines that smallholder sheep farmers assisted in the identification and characterization of the features necessary for the development of the database. In this study, the active participation of the farmers allowed the development of a management database system. The farmers identified sheep pedigree information such as date of birth, body condition score, weight, lambs born, sheep identification number, sheep breed and the farmers profile which include location, farmer name and farm name as some of the input variable necessary to be included.

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Page publiée le 1er juin 2020