Sustainable agricultural practices in smallholder farming systems : a case study of smallholder farmers in the Ugu District, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Agriculture is viewed by both World Bank reports of 2005 and 2008 as a viable activity for rural development for the developing economies. Smallholder farming is the dominant type of agricultural practice especially in the Sub-Saharan Africa. Although in South Africa smallholder farming is not a dominant form of agriculture, it has been highlighted as important for rural development and sustained rural livelihoods. Smallholder farming is faced with a number of challenges including climate change, unproductivity, farming in fragile areas and lack of financial support from authorities. The study investigated whether smallholder farmers in Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal engage in sustainable farming practices in the face of the challenges they are confronted with. The challenges faced by smallholder farmers in South Africa include being productive in the face of environmental degradation and climate change as they farm in marginal lands. Sustainability of smallholder farmers in South Africa is based on three principles: economic, social and environmental viability. In investigating sustainable farming practices among smallholder farmers in Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to collect primary data. Questionnaires were used to collect quantitative data and the focus group discussion was used to collect qualitative information. Furthermore, the constraints faced by smallholder farmers that hinder them from practicing sustainable farming were identified. The findings in the research indicate that smallholder farmers in Port Shepstone practice both traditional and conventional methods of farming where chemical fertilizer is used. Smallholders in the study area indicated that they practiced crop rotation, use of green and animal manure, use crop cover and intercropping methods. The main challenges identified included limited or no access to loans, drought and floods, soil infertility, lack of fertilizer, shortage of farm labour, wild pigs and moles that consume their crops, shortage of farm land and lack of access to tractors.
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