Smallholder agriculture scans complete

Teams in the Western and Northern Cape have been involved in an intensive process to profile smallholder producers and assess the nature of support provided to the smallholder sector.
Currently the contribution which smallholder producers make to the formal agricultural economy of the Overberg is miniscule in financial terms. The production context is characterised by the increasing dominance of a small number of large producers and agri-businesses operating at ever larger scales. However in a setting shadowed by high levels of unemployment and poverty in the rural areas, on farms and in small rural towns in the District there are strong arguments that agriculture can make an important contribution to the livelihoods of poor households as a source of food and a generator of additional cash. 
These arguments acknowledge that agricultural activities are associated with high levels of risk with drought, unseasonal weather, fire, pests, predators and theft. They recognise that high transaction costs and difficulties in accessing formal markets confine many small producers to a particular kind of adaptive and often informal agricultural production in the margins. Despite these constraints there are some areas where access to land, water, infrastructure, support and markets have enabled the emergence of a small number of producers who are increasingly reliant on income from agriculture as a major source of their livelihood.  
The reviews highlight that the data on smallholders and smallholder production remains inadequate. This is partly a reflection of the lack of agreed definitions concerning different categories of smallholder coupled with a lack of in depth research to assess the contribution made by agriculture to the livelihood strategies of small producers. 

Smallholder priorities

Smallholders in the Overberg identified six key priorities 

  1. Improved and more secure access to land, water, and funding
  2. A dramatic improvement in communication and dialogue between stakeholders and the alignment of programmes through the adoption of holistic approach
  3. Greater clarity about who is eligible for support from government and how this support is allocated to different categories of producers and how the support systems and processes are supposed to work
  4. Continued investment in capacity development and training with an emphasis in on farm support services
  5. A much more rigorous focus on market access and value chain analysis and the economics of small scale production
  6. Improved and more participatory monitoring, evaluation and sharing of data to provide information for adaptive management and proactive problem solving.
A wide range of recommendations emerged:
  • Reinvigorate structured dialogue between government and non government stakeholders in the Overberg to better align and co-ordinate programmes in support and land reform, rural development and smallholder development.
  • Agreement on a data collection, curation, sharing and management plan to enable the most accurate and up to date information on smallholder producers in different categories to be available to key role-players. Data management specialists need to design and operate such a system and align it with StatsSA protocols to make data available to all support agencies and stakeholders and ensure that it is regularly updated.
  • Each local municipality in the Overberg District needs to be supported to undertake a baseline survey/census of smallholder producers involved in informal and formal agricultural production as a basis for planning future support strategies and identification of priority support areas.
  • Create opportunities for municipalities to become involved in the CPAC and RECAP systems. 
  • Support the development of municipal smallholder support policies and systems for commonage management and urban agricultural support as part of municipal LED strategies.
  • Commission research to better understand informal agricultural production and markets as part of the livelihood strategies. 
  • Conduct an inventory of land zoned for agriculture or acquired for land reform owned or held in trust by municipalities, DAFF, DRDLR, Forestry, Public Works and other government departments needs to be consolidated and managed by WCDOA.
  • Support and encourage the development of District wide organisation of smallholder producers 
  • Support networking and farmer to farmer extension between smallholder producers. 
  • Standardise lease agreements consistent with the PFMA, MFMA and other relevant legislation to enable smallholders secure access to land.
  • Develop a more rigorous assessment of the economics of small scale production and enable small producers to track costs and returns to identify the factors impacting on enterprise profitability
  • Undertake value chain analysis for small scale producers and processors and provide specialist marketing and branding support together with preferential procurement to enable small producers and processors more secure access to markets.
  • Make better use of digital information technology to keep in touch with and provide information to small holder producers through bulk SMS, messaging software and low cost communication platforms.
  • Develop capacity to support the institutional development of group or co-operative schemes including conflict and dispute resolution capabilities.
  • Shift to more participative systems of monitoring and evaluation which allow for multiple perspectives on the effectiveness of smallholder support measures which simultaneously enable shared learning.   
  • Consider the selection of a District or local municipality as a learning laboratory to pilot new approaches to smallholder support.
We trust that the research process will contribute to a new unified initiative to better align state and non government support for smallholder producers. You can access an animated Prezi which provides more information on the research process and key findings at 

Vegetable growers at Genadendal
Vegetable growers at Genadendal

Posted: 5/3/2013 (7:28:16 AM)

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