Past research

ARDRI has a long, rich research record, however this research has not been well archived, still less have older materials been made digitally accessible. Reassembling ARDRI’s research record will be pursued as resources allow. Until then, what appears on this page are only research projects concluded in 2014.

 ‘Research assistance in support of DAFF's Strategic Plan for Smallholder Support’ – 2013-14

In 2013-14, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) was in the process of developing the Strategic Plan for Smallholder Producers, aimed at strengthening and expanding the smallholder sector. By definition, smallholder producers are those who produce food for home consumption as well as a surplus that is sold in order to derive an income. According to Outcome 7: output 1 and 5, there was a target of 50 000 newly established smallholder producers by 2013/14 and 30% of producers organised into associations or commodity groups for improved market access respectively. Furthermore, the New Growth Path set a target for 300 000 additional smallholders by 2020.

This project was designed in order to assist DAFF develop and test some of the elements of its Strategic Plan for Smallholder Producers. Similar studies were being conducted by other partners in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and North West. The study comprised four distinct exercises as described below.

  1. District-based stakeholder engagement and consultation in target districts – This sub-project called for ARDRI to assist with stakeholder engagements and consultations in Amathole District Municipality. The purpose of the consultations was to help understand the nature of the agricultural economy in the district and how it is changing over time.
  2. Strategies to facilitate input supply via rural intermediaries – Subsistence and smallholder farmers often struggle to access affordable inputs. One reason may be that inputs are in fact expensive everywhere, but another reason appears to be that inputs are not packaged in quantities suitable for small-scale farmers, and/or small-scale farmers must travel long distances to access them. There were two research questions. The first was to establish the extent to which this was true. The second was whether there is some means of incentivising rural intermediaries (eg spaza shops) to stock affordable and appropriate inputs for use by subsistence producers and smallholders.
  3. Developing local food economies around towns in former homelands – Among the most auspicious market opportunities for smallholders would appear to be the larger towns within the former homelands. These towns are emerging as bustling markets centres, often having two or more supermarkets. However, most of the food sold in these towns is ‘imported’ from outside, despite the fact that there is often plentiful arable land in the vicinity. The purpose of this study was to gain a better quantitative and qualitative understanding of the status quo of the market opportunities represented by these towns, and to develop a strategy for building local food economies around them.
  4. Mechanisation status quo – Over the years DAFF has worked to refine its ‘Mechanisation Model’. The purpose of this component was to provide information regarding the manner in which most smallholders currently access mechanisation services, together with an assessment of how well these services function, and an analysis as to whether and how government should seek to strengthen them. The research was expected to consist of the selection of three representative communities in former homeland areas, in which ARDRI would conduct interviews with smallholder farmers, with those who provide mechanisation services to these farmers, and with key informants.