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

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.