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Masters Degrees (Agricultural Extension and Rural Resource Management)

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    ICT use in agricultural extension service delivery: a case study of the edo state agricultural development program (ESADP), Benin-City, Edo state, Nigeria.
    (2022) Uahomo, Courage Efeomo.; Caister, Karen Fern.
    Due to the ever-evolving nature of ICTs, studies have continuously shown that their use plays a very significant role in a country’s economic development, and the agricultural sector is not left out. This survey describes perceptions on using ICTs by field-level and office-based agricultural extension workers at the Edo State Agricultural Development Program (ESADP), Benin-City, Edo state, Nigeria. This research investigates the awareness, roles, benefits and challenges of using ICTs among office-based and field-level agricultural extension personnel employed by the ESADP. An online questionnaire was pre-tested and released to the target group using Survey Monkey. Responses were digitized, and descriptive analysis was used to identify patterns in the data. The target group was a non-random purposive target of 100 extension staff meeting the criteria of access to and utilization ICTs in their line of work. Ninety-five of those responded. The results indicated that most (98%) of field-level and (94%) office-based respondents were aware of using ICTs for agricultural extension service delivery. Ease of use and access to timely and accurate information were the main reasons why extension workers use ICTs. However, the study observed that the challenges encountered were erratic power supply, delayed response from the service providers, and discrepancies between the desire to use and the provision/maintenance of the resources needed for access. Based on the findings from this study, a need to fill the gap between the desire to use ICT devices and accessibility gave rise to the following recommendations: that more agricultural extension workers be recruited and trained to balance the farmer:extension worker ratio and to address the technological gap that currently exist in the system, that best practice is to provide an enabling environment that will encourage and support software licensing, provide suitable hardware, and that infrastructural development should also be given immediate attention in order to alleviate the issue of poor services rendered to the people.
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    The determinants of adoption of climate smart agricultural (csa) practices and its effects on smallholder maize farmer’s welfare.
    (2023) Mthethwa, Khethiwe Naledi.; Ngidi, Mjabuliseni Simon Cloapas.
    The smallholder farmers’ maize production is highly vulnerable to climate change. Higher temperatures eventually reduce yields while encouraging the growth of weeds, pests, and diseases. Climate change is having a negative impact on agriculture, threatening global food security. Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is considered as a strategy for transforming agri-food system into more environmentally friendly and climate-resilient practices. However, evidence on the socio-economic drivers of farmers‘ adoption of CSA practices and its effect on food security and yields remain limited. The study is set out to assess how CSA improves the welfare of smallholder maize farmers in the KwaZulu Natal local municipalities of uMshwathi and uKhahlamba. The study explored three specific objectives. The first objective was to assess the determinants of adoption and intensity of CSA Practices among smallholder maize farmers. The second was to evaluate the effect of CSA adoption on small-holder farmers' household food security and the third was to evaluate the distributional effect of CSA adoption on small-holder maize farmers' productivity in the study areas. The study used a quantitative approach. A multistage random sampling was employed to select 99 respondents, 49 from Swayimane and 50 from Bergville. In assessing the determinants of adoption and intensity of CSA Practices among smallholder maize farmers, the study used the double hurdle count model. The Household Hunger Scale (HHS) was used to determine the food security status of the smallholder maize farmers while Ordered Regression Model (ORM), was used to evaluate the effect of CSA adoption on smallholder maize farmers' food status. The Conditional Instrumental Variable Quantile Treatment (IV-QTE) effect approach was used to assess the distributional effect of CSA adoption on smallholder farmers’ maize yields. The descriptive results indicated that farmers had experienced severe climatic conditions such as drought, pests, diseases, hailstorms, heavy rains (floods), soil infertility, and frost in their farming system. The first hurdle of the Probit model revealed that drought, on-farm income, and household size positively and significantly influenced the adoption of CSA practices. On the other hand, the primary source of income and educational level had a significant negative influence. The second hurdle of the Poisson model revealed that drought significantly impacted the intensity of CSA adoption, whereas marital status significantly negatively impacted CSA practices. The results show that 79% of the farmers experienced little or no hunger, while 13% experienced moderate hunger and only 8% experienced severe hunger. According to the LRM, the drought had a significant negative relationship with household food security, while the main source of income and age had a significant positive relationship. The empirical findings discovered that the impact of adoption was higher and significant at a lower tail quantile (0,5) yield distribution of 91.9%. Total household income and on-farm income were positively significant on yields at the lower quantile (0,5), whereas the main source of income was negatively significant. Total household income and on-farm income were positively significant to yields at the second quantile (0,25), while CSA adoption, smartphones, and the main source of income were negatively significant. Household size and on-farm income were positively significant to yields at the middle quantile (0,50), while CSA adoption and marital status were negatively significant. On-farm income and farmer association were positively significant on yields at quantile 0,75, while marital status was negatively affected. Variables such as total household income, on-farm income, and farmer association membership were positively significant in the upper quantile of 0.85. Word of mouth, by which farmers share information with their family and friends, significantly improved the knowledge about climate change and adaptation. Most smallholder farmers experienced little to no hunger. The main source of income influenced the food security status of the smallholder farmers. The experience of drought contributed to food insecurity of smallholder farmers. While adoption of CSA practices did not considerably improve food security status but the contribution of CSA adoption towards food security cannot be ignored. Farming households with low yields benefit significantly more from CSA adoption. The study suggests that when developing climate change adaptation programs, policymakers and climate change champions consider the socioeconomic factors of smallholder farmers. Local climate change organizations should collaborate to increase climate change awareness and adaptation programs. Public climate and adaptation education or training, localized meteorological observations, early warning systems, and mass media dissemination of climate change and adaptation information in locally understood languages is urgently required. To be more resilient to climate change effect, farmers should be encouraged to include a comprehensive diverse CSA package. Keywords: Climate change impact, Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), CSA adoption, smallholder farmers, Household Hunger Scale, Maize yields, IV-QTEQ
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    From niche to mainstream: creating a policy environment for the proliferation of non-staple whole grains in South Africa.
    (2023) Ndebele, Thalente.; Ngidi, Mjabuliseni Simon Cloapas.; Mabhaudhi, Tafadzwanashe.; Walton, Stephanie.
    Over the centuries, non-staple agricultural commodities have been produced in limited quantities and are generally neglected yet bear a significant untapped potential. Preoccupation with staple grains has constrained the production of non-staple whole grains, and it remains fascinating to explore the barriers, and reluctance to shift toward non-staple crops. Admissibly, the contribution of these grains (sorghum, millet, oats, barley, and other wheat varieties) to the gross value of agriculture is hardly ever known. The nutritional and environmental benefits and other uses remain unexplored. To an extent, they are now mainly used for non-food purposes (brewery and industrial uses) contrary to being used as a source of food for human beings. The study assesses the functioning of the value chain of the non-staple wholegrains in South Africa. The study used both primary and secondary data to understand the functioning of the non-staple value chain. A qualitative method was employed to collect data from the provinces of the Western Cape (Overberg, West Coast), Gauteng (Johannesburg, Pretoria), and North West (Taung). For primary data, a snowballing sampling procedure was used to select 25 respondents involved in the non-staple grain value chain. These participants included smallholder farmers, processors/traders (silo-owners), private/public extension and information organisations, policy organisations, landowners, input suppliers and financers (insurers). While Semistructured questionnaires were used to conduct interviews. Desktop analysis was used to retrieve and analyse food policies relating to non-staple grains. A diagnostic research design was employed for analysis. Extension carousel, influence diagram, graph theory, policy map and Venn diagram were employed to analyse data, locate the leverage points, and track stakeholders’ influence on each other which inevitably affects the production scale of nonstaple wholegrains. Three specific objectives were explored in this study. The first specific objective was to assess the extent to which emerging farmers in the wholegrain economies are pressured or incentivised by policies and other actors in the network. The second was to determine points of tension within grains networks where the potential for the proliferation of emerging wholegrains economies is curtailed. The third specific objective3 was to identify the policies that can enable the proliferation of new wholegrain economies and their ability to successfully increase production and access to ensure environmental, nutritional and equity objectives are met. Results from the extension carousel demonstrated that the farmers’ participation in the type of grains they are involved in is influenced by the commodity supply and demand. Since market information is mainly about staple grains, this automatically create bias towards participation in the staple grain than non-staple grains. The results revealed that access to land is a challenge for the smallholder, previously disadvantaged farmers who are given a smallsized land for grain production. The respondents indicated this is because the preference is given to livestock farmers and profit-orientated commodity growers. Some factors contributing to an unconducive environment for non-staple grain farmers include ever-increasing high input costs; lack of comprehensive support systems like incentives and subsidies to protect farmers from price fluctuations, and input unavailability due to domestic transportation difficulties and input shortages. Additionally, while there is a commitment to help farmers purchase or lease machinery and other technological equipment, it is either delivered late or unavailable from international suppliers. Other challenges that cause difficulties for non-staple wholegrain farmers and set them back are finance-related policies, grain pricing, and limited markets. Results illustrated that smallholder farmer’s access to finance is a challenge not only because they lack collateral to secure loans due to eligibility criteria, interest rates, and repayment plans (terms/ conditions). Findings also showed that grains like oats have a limited market (fewer buyers), whereas barley is climatically risky, which also causes farmers to be reluctant to produce non-staple grains. Results also revealed that stakeholders’ relationships maintain the status quo of being biased toward staple grains. This includes market agents sensitizing farmers to determine grain choice, production quantities, and market choice. Shortage of input (fertilisers, machinery) influence farmers to deprioritize conservation measures. Landowners influence grain farmers not to continue growing non-staple wholegrain and shift to staple export orientated commodities. Investors influence the developmental financers’ approach and conditions. The study concludes that landowners, investors, market agents, and financers influence farmers’ decision to grow non-staple wholegrain. The bottlenecks in the non-staple whole grain value chain were lack of support for non-staple grain farmers, limited market access, unfavourable terms and conditions of available funding opportunities, limited access to land, ill-structured coordination, communication, and transformation. Some policies that could strengthen the participation of non-staple whole grain farmers in the value include land policy, farm subsidy policy, tax incentive policy, funding framework, and equity policy. There is a need to realign and synergize the goals of the different actors to favour all grains equally. More attention needs to be given to neglected non-staple grains. Food-related policies need to be reviewed to reflect the importance of non-staple wholegrain.
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    Investigating the contribution of social cash transfers to the food security situation of agricultural-based rural households of Nhlazuka, Richmond Municipality, South Africa.
    (2022) Mncube, Nomonde Leanda.; Ngidi, Mjabuliseni Simon Cloapas.
    It is estimated that over 690 million people around the world went hungry in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems. Food insecurity in South Africa is due to insufficient access to food because of structural poverty and inequality dynamics with a strong racial footprint rather than a shortage of food. Moreover, scarce employment opportunities (especially in rural areas), rising cost of living, limited investment in agricultural development, increase in informal 6settlements and high dependency ratios especially in low-income households are some of the factors contributing to food insecurity in the country. Thus household-level food security is a major challenge to the South African government and policymakers. Globally, social protection interventions remain essential for addressing the multidimensional aspects of poverty and vulnerability to food insecurity. Social protection plays a considerable role in improving the lives of rural communities that are dependent on agriculture as a source of livelihood. The study examined the contribution of social cash transfers (SCTs) to the livelihood of rural communities of Nhlazuka in Richmond Municipality in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa and assessed the factors influencing access to the SCTs. A sample of 108 respondents was randomly selected and several household-level variables were used to determine factors that influenced access to SCTs. Household food security status was determined through Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS). An Endogenous Switching Poisson model was used to analyse the contribution of access to cash transfers to household food security, while also accounting for both endogeneity and sample selection issues. In addition, a logistic regression model was used to examine the influence of various socio-economic factors (independent) on the contribution of SCTs to the livelihoods of rural communities. The results showed that access to cash transfers, gender of household head, access to credit, membership to farm-based organisations (FBO), membership to cooperatives and access to agricultural training was statistically significant (P<0.001 and P<0.002 respectively) in determining household food security. Gender of the household head significantly positively correlated to SCTs by the household, indicating that the gender of the household head contributed significantly to access to SCTs (P<0.045). The age of the household head, household size and marital status were statistically significant in determining the household food security. The marginal model showed that the odds of receiving SCTs decreased by 8.9% when the household head was female compared to male. Access to SCTs was an important factor in achieving improved household food security status. Cash transfer programs for the needy play a significant role in reducing food insecurity and increasing livelihood diversification as households use the cash to purchase agricultural implements which in turn contributes towards their food production. This means SCTs can have a wide range of effects that extend far beyond programme objectives. This finding is critical for the ongoing policy discussions in South Africa, focusing on the long-term relevance and benefits of the SCTs. There is a need for the government to continue improving access to SCTs as they are crucial to the livelihoods of households. Targeted cash transfers towards old age, women and youth are needed particularly because many of these people lack access to food.
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    The impact of recapitalization and development program on the performance of land reform farmers in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
    (2021) Shabangu, Thembalakhe Decent.; Ngidi, Mjabuliseni Simon Cloapas.; Ojo, Temitope Oluwaseun.
    Land reform is and has been one of the South African development initiatives. The desire to see agriculture as the core of the transformation for the previously disadvantaged citizens and as a vehicle for improving the socio-economic status and rural economy cannot be ignored. Research on land settlement operation across countries that have experienced land reform indicates that land reform without post-settlement support regardless of the historical background of the proposed beneficiaries or even political appraisal leads to the neglect of the awarded land. The presence of effective farmer support services promotes the development of the land reform farms whilst the opposite may contribute negatively to on-farm development and affect the livelihoods and food security of the people that rely on the farm. There is no doubt that the current land ownership patterns are unsustainable and are a threat to national democracy. Therefore, the need to provide appropriate post-settlement support to farmers’ farms cannot be ignored to help the few farmers retain the farms. It is for this reason that the recapitalization program was initiated. This study aims to determine the impact of recapitalization and development on the performance of land reform farmers. The study made use of a quantitative approach and adopted the multistage sampling techniques: stratified random sampling and random sampling procedure to select the land reform farmers that participated in the study (n =264). Descriptive statistics were used to assess the socio-economic status of the land reform beneficiaries. Econometric analysis was also used through Probit regression analysis to assess the factors influencing the participation of farmers in the Recapitalization and Development Program (RADP), and the Endogenous switching regression model to assess the impact of RADP on the performance of land reform farmers. The primary findings indicated that respondents are on average 49 years old and that around 80% of the sampled farmers are married. While approximately 64% of farmers engaged in nonfarm economic activity, the average household has approximately five people. Similarly, the number of years spent cultivating crops (a proxy for experience) is projected to have a favourable effect on participation in the RADP and on net farm revenue. Around 70% of respondents reported having a signed contract. These findings indicated that while 58% had access to extension services from both the private and public sector contributing to the progress of agricultural development with 54% of strategic partnership support, and mentorship was indicated to be 44%. Tax compliance (p=0.022), secondary organization (p=0.0257, legal entity (p=0.008), farm potential income upon acquisition (p=0.084), farmers getting third-party support (p=0.071), and strategic partnership (p=0.081) all had a statistically significant effect on farmers' RADP participation. The findings indicated that age (p=0.029), farm potential income upon acquisition (p=0.088), strategic partnership (p=0.049), and tax compliance (p=0.002) were all positively significant with the impact of RADP on land reform performance. The impact of RADP on the performance of non-RADP recipients was statistically significant for strategic partnerships (p=0.059), legal entities (p=0.019), and farmers receiving third party support (p=0.095). Strategic partnership (p=0.021) and tax compliance (p=0.010) had a statistically significant effect on RADP beneficiaries' performance. The results showed that land reform has made a progress in ensuing a positive livelihood of beneficiaries even though some challenges are still experienced. Findings showed that the majority of farmers were engaged in off-farm economic activities, access to formal education and have signed a project contract. Mentorship remained a particularly difficult aspect of postsettlement life. However, farmers got a chance to enhance their farms and raise their income through RADP's strategic cooperation. Generally, land reform farmers are full-time farmers and get their income from farm profits. Access to extension services was satisfactory for land reform farmers. The strategic partnership of RADP is likely to improve the farm and the farm income. RADP generally has a positive impact on the performance of the land reform program. There is a need to significantly improve the mentorship program to increase land reform farmers' engagement in the given farmer support programs. It is recommended that more extension services are availed to the land reform farmers.
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    Exploring expansive learning in sustainable agriculture: a case study of commercial sugarcane farmers and extensionists in KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and South Coast.
    (2014) Koopman, Vaughan.; Worth, Steven Hugh.
    Sugarcane production in South Africa is at a crossroads. Internationally, the South African sugarcane industry is a small player. But within South Africa it remains a significant commodity supporting a substantial number of livelihoods. Sugarcane agriculture has a significant impact on South Africa’s environment. The industry thus bears a large measure of responsibility to contain that impact. It is under pressure to conform to national legislation and international standards of sustainable production, whilst big players like Coca-Cola have indicated the sector needs to ‘green up’ or potentially face loss of sales. One response to this has been the industry’s development and adoption of the Sustainable Sugarcane Farm Management System (SUSFARMS) as a sustainability decision support tool for sugarcane growers. The implementation of SUSFARMS however demands an unprecedented level of integrated action on the part of competing actors in the value chain. Key among these are the cane farmers, the South African Sugar Association (SASA), millers, and the South African Sugar Research Institute (SASRI) – the latter two being the dominant players in sugarcane extension. SASA’s and SASRI’s traditional top-down technology transfer approach was considered in this study as unlikely to achieve the learning and collaboration required to successfully achieve broad scale use of the SUSFARMS tool and implementation of both social and environmental sustainability practice. To begin the learning and collaborative process, this study examined the professional learning needed to foster multiagency partnerships supporting sustainability practices among SASRI extension specialists and large-scale commercial sugarcane growers in the Midlands and South Coast regions of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. This research explored whether sugarcane farmers and extensionists can be supported through interventionist research to identify and address inhibiting factors relating to sustainability, learning and understandings of SUSFARMS. Inhibiting factors are most likely to be related to tensions and contradictions of cultural and historical origin within activity systems. For this reason, the epistemological framework for the research was provided by cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) and the theory of expansive learning. CHAT supported the research process to surface and identify tensions and contradictions related to SUSFARMS. Once surfaced these tensions and contradictions were examined and probed for their root causes and possible solutions proposed. Expansive social learning theory and CHAT was used in the study to explore the processes by which growers and extension staff foster learning in settings where knowledge and practice are not necessarily stable, well-defined or understood. A key element was the capacity of professionals working in multiagency settings to recognise and engage with disputed knowledge and distributed expertise in complex workplace settings. Workshops modelled on Engeström’s (1996) ‘Change Laboratory’ examined data from 17 semi-structured interviews with growers, extension specialists and industry managers selected by purposive sampling. The interviews and workshops were used to surface tensions and contradictions regarding sustainability practices - particularly those relating to SUSFARMS - which were used to support expansive social learning, allowing participants to deepen their understanding and learning of workplace practice, and to formulate proposed solutions. The first part of the study found: no formal learning plan for growers and extension staff exists; participation from growers in formal learning opportunities is weak; lack of quantifiable cost-benefit evidence hinders grower and extension support of SUSFARMS; strategic leadership from industry is not evident to people on the ground; and scope, structure and budget hampers extension’s impact. The second part of the study found four different ways sugarcane farmers and extensionists learn: learning from a more knowledgeable other; learning from peers; learning through observation and learning through practice and experimentation. These framings of learning suggest multiple ways in which farmers and extensionists interact and experience the world around them. They also suggest avenues of focus for strengthening industry extension approach. Ultimately six Model Solutions were developed: Clarify with stakeholders SASA’s position and methodology regarding SUSFARMS and on-farm sustainability; ensure communication and dialogue occur with stakeholders; identify and respond to grower and extension staff knowledge needs; strengthen informal grower and extension learning using expansive social learning processes; strengthen organisational learning through formal learning plans; and prioritise action research that strengthens grower, extension and researcher networking and understanding and develops quantifiable evidence relevant to on-farm SUSFARMS use and the implementation of on-farm sustainability practices. The study concludes with providing recommendations for agencies such as SASA and SASRI on their extension approach when introducing new technologies such as SUSFARMS in complex and often competing multiagency settings. The study suggests that SASRI, at institutional and farmer-interface level, should play close attention to understanding how their client farmers learn and ensure their systems and field officers have the relevant capacity and skills to engage farmers in the required collaborative learning.
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    Rural water resources: an exploration of access, usage, characteristics and implications for rural households at Ivuna Nongoma Kwazulu-Natal.
    (2018) Kunene, Tholakele Rose-Mary.; Worth, Steven Hugh.
    Water plays a very important role in our lives as said by the poet, Mazisi Kunene. Water is vital for human survival and livelihoods. In addition, enough supply of clean drinking water for household use and economic development is perceived as an important tool for addressing inequalities of water distribution of the past in South Africa. Improvement in water supply can redress vulnerability experienced by rural communities through water scarcity. An increased understanding of the impact of water on livelihoods of rural dwellers is important for sustainable development. Although studies on water sources have been conducted in the past, this is the first study in the Nongoma area.. This thesis examines the accessibility and manageability of different water sources to local people with the aim of providing a set of recommendations based on the research findings. It is imperative to note that government has committed itself to the provision of free basic water for those who cannot afford to pay for the service. In reviewing existing studies on present water coverage by the government, particularly in rural communities, it is clear that this goal will not be achieved in the near future. Itshodo area at Ivuna, where the research for this thesis was conducted, is even worse of in terms of water scarcity. Thus, this study attempts to fill the gap in current research by investigating water sources and their impact at Ivuna area in Nongoma. The Zululand municipality as a whole is stricken by a severe water shortage, as evidenced in current studies. Through a literature review, focus group sessions with the local people and interviews with key informants, the researcher discovered that the Ivuna community is vulnerable to water scarcity. Urban-biased development, a high unemployment rate, and exclusion of water beneficiaries in the decision making processes are contributory factors to both scarcity and management of water resources. Study findings confirm that the ability to access clean water locally promotes local production of agricultural produce and other income generating projects.. It has a direct proportional inverse to food security, improvement of living standards and poverty eradication in rural areas worldwide. Improvement in water supply and management will have a positive bearing on rural communities if decision makers involve water beneficiaries who will use this resource productively.
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    The contribution of adopting organic farming practices to household food security (a case study of Dovehouse Organics)
    (2017) Ndlovu, Angel Silindile.; Caister, Karen Fern.
    Adoption of organic farming improves production over time, suggesting that it could be possible to feed the growing world population through food produced using organic farming methods. Globally, the consumer demand for naturally grown and healthier food has been growing, creating an incentive for farmers who are engaged in organic farming. This inquiry set out to investigate the extent to which adoption of organic farming methods or practices contributes to household food security. Analysis compared the food security status of nontrained farmers with farmers who had been trained by Dovehouse Organics (DVO) with a permaculture philosophy and organic farming practices. Data were collected from 100 sampled farming households (53 trained and 47 non-trained households) through the use of a questionnaire. The study used the Household Hunger Scale (HHS) to determine the food security status of the farming households. A linear regression model was used to assess the relationship between adoption of organic farming practices and household food security. Sixty-seven percent of the sampled households were food secure. About 87% of the farming households that adopted organic farming technology are food secure. Of the households that did not adopt organic farming technology, 55% are food insecure. About 89% of the trained farmers believed they were producing more than enough food for their needs, compared to 38% of the non-trained farmers. The results show that a large number of farmers adopted the organic farming practices that were offered at DVO in their daily crop production activities. There were various reasons for adopting the organic farming technologies, including improved production and yield, better pest management, and improved potential for having excess to sell. A positive relationship between adoption of organic farming practices and food security was observed, suggesting that as farmers adopt the organic practices into their farming systems, chances of being food secure increased. Adopting organic farming practices may have improved the food security status of organic farming households in Richmond. Similar studies with a larger sample size need to be conducted to ascertain the contribution of organic farming to household food security. In terms of improving the contribution of organic farming to food security, it is recommended that more training opportunities, production support and guidance be made accessible, particularly for emerging organic farmers who require information and advisors for guidance. Given the high market demand of organically produced products, further research into opportunities that organic farmers have for selling their produce would assist to diversify household income.
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    Experiences with mechanisation - government tractor service provision and small holder farming in Nkandla and Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal.
    (2016) Gwala, S'celo S'duduzo.; Caister, Karen Fern.
    This research explores the experiences that smallholder farmers have had when implementing the government’s tractor services provision (mechanisation) programme. The objective was to understand the programme’s contribution towards improving farming activities. A convenient respondent group of beneficiary farmers was drawn from the selected villages of Nkandla and Ixopo, in KwaZulu-Natal. Members of the government involved in the implementation of the programme were also purposefully engaged in the study. Semi-structured individual and focus group interviews, and observation in the field, were used as data collection tools. The findings suggest that the programme contributed towards an increase in ploughed land which enabled farmers to plant more cash and food crops. The challenges that were found, ranged from high input costs which meant partially planted fields, to ill-timed services coupled with frequent mechanical breakdowns and tyre punctures. This led to problems such as temporary interruptions of ploughing action, squabbling between people and conflict over servicing of farmers’ sequence characterised by poor planning and management of the programme. The results of the study therefore recommend a gradual scaling-up of production potential through the classification and the evaluation of each farmers’ unique capabilities. The introduction of an appropriate set of equipment a farmer can independently afford to obtain, to maintain and to sustain, is also recommended.
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    Production constraints and choice of farming practices across selected smallholder farming systems in KwaZulu-Natal.
    (2017) Mdlozini, Mfundo.; Mudhara, Maxwell.
    The agricultural sector continues to stimulate economic growth for developing economies. This phenomenon relates to South Africa, where agriculture plays a crucial role in livelihood creation and economic growth in the country’s rural areas. Smallholder farmers are drivers of many economies in Africa, even though their potential is often overlooked. South Africa’s rural development framework in the National Development Plan (NDP) shows that smallholder agriculture has a prospective role in developing the country’s rural economy. However, rural households continue to derive a small proportion of their livelihoods directly from agriculture because of a number of constraints. This study, on smallholders in KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, investigated the constraints they face and their effects on farm production, as well as the factors influencing their choice of farming practices. The main question is whether or not smallholder agriculture can significantly contribute to economic development in poor rural households. Data were drawn from a sample of 400 farmers in Ndwedwe and Umzimkhulu Local Municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal province, using a structured questionnaire. Farmers were selected using multistage randomised sampling technique. Descriptive statistics were used to explain farm level characteristics. The Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used to transform a set of inter-related variables into core uncorrelated factors. The Tobit regression model was used in assessing the determinants of production constraints faced by smallholder farmers and their effect on agricultural production, while the multinomial logistic (MNL) regression model was used to examine and identify the factors influencing farmers’ choice of farming practices. The study findings revealed that smallholder farmers faced limited access to agricultural land and farm services in and/or out for the farm, e.g. produce markets, infrastructure, credit facilities and extension. The estimated results of the Tobit model showed that farm level characteristics statistically and significantly influenced the production constraints in KwaZulu-Natal and the measures needed to improve smallholder agricultural production include easing access to agricultural land, credit facilities, extension and markets, in order to encourage farm innovation through the adoption of improved farming practices. The common farming practices of choice were subsistence crop farming, improved crop farming and mixed farming. The estimated results of the MNL model showed that the common choice of farming practices was statistically and significantly influenced by various factors, which included total land size, type of land, market access, household size, education level and age of the household head. The study concluded that smallholders seek to increase agricultural production in order to improve their livelihoods. It recommends that, given the constraints they are facing, strategic measures to increase access to agricultural land and farm services in and/or out of the farm should be implemented jointly, so that farmers would be more inclined to improve their farming practices. These farmers should form co-operatives for easy access to improved farming inputs from financial institutions, local government and NGOs. Development agents should facilitate, safeguard and promote awareness of productive farming practices in order to improve their adoption in rural areas. Farm opportunities should be explored to encourage smallholders to diversify farming practices. Research should identify adapted, efficient and high-yielding farming practices to improve agricultural production and livelihoods of smallholders. Policies and investment priorities should recognise available opportunities and constraints facing farmers and empower them to create an enabling environment to improve farm production.
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    An evaluation of the role of extension in adoption of new technology by small-scale resource-constrained farmers : a case of Lower Gweru Communal area, Zimbabwe.
    (2015) Masere, Tirivashe Phillip.; Worth, Steven Hugh.
    The importance of agricultural extension in small-scale farming systems of developing countries cannot be overemphasised. Extension organisations and their agents play crucial roles in transferring technologies to small-scale farmers for adoption and in fostering development of innovations from among diverse actors including farmers, research institutions, input suppliers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and donors. In many developing countries, particularly of Africa, most new agricultural technologies are disseminated by the primary public extension agencies. In Zimbabwe, the Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (AGRITEX) through its agents are tasked with this responsibility. Despite the efforts by AGRITEX and its agents in disseminating new technologies aimed at improving farm production and hence the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, the adoption of most such recommended technology has been poor. This study was thus driven by the following primary question: What are the main factors influencing small-scale farmer innovation and adoption of recommended technology? The objectives of this study were to: a) Determine the main factors influencing small-scale farmer innovation and adoption of recommended technology; b) Evaluate the role and influence that extension has on small-scale farmer innovation and adoption of recommended technology; and c) Determine key attributes of an appropriate extension system and modes for small-scale farmers that may provide a lasting solution to the technology adoption issue. The study was conducted in Lower Gweru Communal area, Zimbabwe with a study sample of 256 small-scale farmers. These farmers were selected by means of multi-stage stratified random sampling to eliminate bias and ensure equal representation of male and female farmers from all the eight Wards of Lower Gweru Communal area (Sikombingo, Nyama, Mdubiwa, Chisadza, Madikani, Bafana, Nkawana and Communal ward 16). Data was solicited from both small-scale farmers and extension agents operating in the study area. Three instruments namely focus group discussions (FGDs), semi-structured interviews (SSIs) and participant observations were used to collect data from farmers. Two focus group discussions (FGDs) were held in each of the eight wards to gather general information about technologies disseminated to farmers over the last several years, sources of technology, and their perceptions of extension services. Similar, but more specific information was collected using SSIs with 200 farmers (100 men and 100 women) from among the study sample of 256 farmers. Participant observation technique was used to corroborate information gathered in FGDs and SSIs. Furthermore, a census in the form of SSIs was conducted with extension personnel servicing Lower Gweru Communal area to solicit the extension workers’ perspective on factors affecting technology adoption by small-scale farmers including their perceived challenges in offering quality service delivery to their clients. The census was necessitated by the relatively low number of extension workers (21) operating in the study area. Key findings from FGDs and SSIs included that small-scale farmers are largely constrained in adopting recommended technologies by a number of factors. These factors include small land sizes, high cost of technology, lack of capital to buy technologies, lack of access to both credit facilities and input-output markets and lack of adequate information support (and practical demonstrations of how to utilise technologies to potentially improve production). Furthermore, farmers cited that they are usually excluded by extension and technology developers in problem definition and development of possible solutions (technologies). As a result, extension agents and technology developers often fail to comprehend farmers’ problems and priorities leading to poor adoption of technology they recommend. Most of these technologies are disseminated in a “one-size fit-all” approach to different farmer groups with different needs and problems. Key findings from extension agents included that they were not able to deliver quality services to their clients (farmers) mainly because AGRITEX is poorly funded and this led to poor adoption of recommended technology. This funding challenge cascades into multiple problems including: poorly remunerated and de-motivated workers, high turnover of experienced, competent and skilled staff; high influx of inexperienced and incompetent staff rushed to replace the experienced and competent staff; high agent to farmer ratios; lack of in-service training for the inexperienced workers; and lack of transport for workers to reach many farmers. The study found a mismatch between technologies that are needed or demanded by farmers and those being recommended or “imposed” on them by extension agents. Unless this discrepancy is addressed the poor adoption of recommended technology issue will persist. As a lasting solution to poor technology adoption, this study proposes and recommends the development of an appropriate extension system and complementary extension modes that promotes building the capacity of extension agents and researchers, and embraces farmers and their indigenous knowledge. In this proposed extension system, farmers’ views, experiences and perspectives are taken into consideration in developing and testing technologies which could improve technology adoption. This extension system should possess six key characteristics: farmer-focused; whose purpose is farmers’ empowerment and capacity development; where the role of extension is mainly that of facilitation and brokering as determined by prevailing farmer needs; where farmers have a key role in determining what to learn and how they want learn; it should emphasise social capital and sustainability; and whose nature of learning is experiential, field-based discovery learning aimed at sharpening farmers’ analytical, problem solving skills and to demand services. However, for the proposed appropriate extension system for small-scale farmers to work effectively, it must be backed by the availability of committed, highly competent and flexible extension agents to function effectively in offering quality service delivery to meet diverse needs of farmers. Equally important for the effective operation of proposed extension system, is the need for strengthening of linkages between key actors in the innovation and technology development network.
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    Agricultural extension and post-settlement support of land reform beneficiaries in South Africa : the case of Ixopo in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
    (2015) Sibisi, Nhlanganiso Bhekisenzo.; Caister, Karen Fern.; Mngomezulu-Dube, Simphiwe.
    Land reform is a political project which started after World War II in many countries around the world (Japan, Latin America and Africa). In South Africa it started with the advent of democracy in 1994. Experiences around the globe have been perceived by some as unsuccessful. South Africa is no exception in this, with some farms acquired through the land reform programme never used from the day of transfer. Reasons for lack of production range from insecure land tenure rights to the many challenges which hinder the utilization and production on farms. Furthermore, there is poor co-ordination of institutions responsible for post-settlement support. This study contributes insider perspectives from within the current discussion around how agricultural extension in South Africa can improve sustainable land utilization and production in land reform farms in the context of post-settlement support. The investigation explored the experiences of three beneficiary land owner groups in the Ixopo area of KwaZulu-Natal. Purposive sampling was used to select these farms and the research participants. A total of 29 respondents participated in the study. A qualitative methodology utilising interviews, focus group discussion, Venn diagram and priority ranking as data collection tools contributed to the findings around post-settlement support. The analysis showed that these three land reform farms have a high potential to succeed if agricultural extension could play a pro-active role in the process of land utilization and production. The stakeholders’ analysis has shown that there is poor co-ordination of stakeholders involved in the post-transfer support in the three land reform farms which participated in this study. The participants’ responses showed that when farmers had access to good quality technical services, they can manage the farm/s. Those who accessed mentorship from Department of Rural Development and Land Reform mentors, reported that they tended to manage their farms rather than facilitate skills transfer to beneficiaries. It was also identified that current land utilization and production is driven by the support available to beneficiary farmers, resorting in unplanned land uses when support is unavailable or inaccessible. The findings suggest that agricultural extension should play a pro-active role in co-ordination that ensures communication between various role players relevant to sustainable land utilization and production, and should also enable the farmers to take an active leading role in sustainable land utilization and production.
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    Agronomic studies on edamame (vegetable soybean) in KwaZulu-Natal.
    (2015) Arathoon, Arthur James.; Laing, Mark Delmege.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    Livelihoods and natural resource management dynamics in fast track land resettlements, Kwekwe District, Zimbabwe.
    (2014) Mumanyi, Farai.; Caister, Karen Fern.
    The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate an Agricultural community and its system of Natural Resource Management (NRM) in the post–Fast Track Land Reform Program (FTLRP) era in Zimbabwe. The study contributes to understanding issues facing Agricultural Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) set ups in two resettlement models. The aim was to establish the influence that the FTLRP had on emergent practice and use of the natural resource base. The main task was to explore the patterns of natural resource use within the dynamics of culture, vulnerability and governance issues. The researcher deliberately enriched the case study with interviews, questionnaires, focus group discussions and participatory observations to promote triangulation (confirmation) of results. The field work for the study was carried out in Kwekwe District in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe. The main part of the district falls in Agro ecological zone III and the smaller part in zone IV. Agro ecological zone III is a semi-intensive farming area prone to sporadic seasonal droughts, long-lasting, mid-season dry spells and the unpredictable onset of the rainy season. Agro ecological zone IV is subject to drought and dry spells in summer, rendering the area unsuitable for arable farming but favourable for semi-extensive beef production. The study specifically targeted FTLRP beneficiaries. The results showed that in terms of impacts on NRM, the exploitation of natural resources for survival has become normal practice. This is a shift from the previous farming practice and NRM of the agrarian space before FTLRP as well as a shift from the indigenous knowledge system of NRM found in traditional communal settlements prior to FTLRP. The background of farmers had notable effects on the current farming practices. Governance of NRM was in conflict with farmers’ needs, the harsh economic climate, dwindling NRM institutions and erosion of the authority of traditional community leaders.
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    Successful skills training in relation to women's home management practices and household attributes.
    (1996) Hendriks, Sheryl Lee.; Green, Jannette Maryann.
    Women engaged in skills training courses were surveyed to determine if selected home management and household attribute variables influenced women's attendance and successful completion of training. The common (and wide) use of literacy as the entry requirement for women's income orientated skills and entrepreneurship training courses was challenged. The predominance of Black women in South Africa's informal sector, and the prevalence of illiteracy among female informal sector participants in particular; demand more appropriate, precise and impartial entry criteria for such courses than literacy levels alone. A sample of 161 women engaged in skills training courses offered by NGO's in KwaZulu-Natal were surveyed through use of a questionnaire. The dependent variables were: course attendance, rate of successful completion of training and education levels. The independent variables were grouped into three sections: variables related to training course characteristics (such as course duration and skill type taught), variables thought to indicate women's home management practices (such as participation in household production and child care), and household demographic attributes (for example household size). Logistic regression analyses were used. It was concluded that the significant home management and household attribute variables may be more impartial and appropriate predictors of attendance and successful completion of skills training. The absence of significant relationships between attendance, successful training and education level may challenge the use of literacy as the sole training prerequisite. However, the course related variables did influence attendance and success rates, which inferred that the attendance and success variables may have been reliable predictors. Further refinement of these variables and greater control of the course related variables is recommended.
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    Small-scale farming, marketing and organisational support received since 2002 on the Mooi River irrigation scheme in Muden, Central KwaZulu-Natal.
    (2007) Nyiraneza, Immaculee.; Green, Jannette Maryann.
    Small-scale farming plays a significant role in rural people's lives. Small-scale farming contributes to food production, household income and to the employment of people in rural South Africa. They also face many constraints in their farming activities such as lack of capital, of quality seed, of fertilizer, of equipment, of water for irrigation, of technology, of storage facilities, of transport, of market, of training and finance. These in fact, limit farmers in their farming activities and affect their farming outputs. In this regard, small-scale farmers rely on government, private companies and NGOs for agricultural support. These are often insufficient as farmers still face many challenges in their farming and their needs tend not to change for the better. This study investigated whether there had been changes or improvements in small-scale farming on the Mooi River irrigation scheme in Muden over the past three years since the previous baseline survey was conducted in 2002. The study also investigated the activities of farmers' associations, Provincial Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (DAEA) and NGOs in Muden and determined the activities that were needed for small-scale farmers to overcome their constraints. The research took place amongst small-scale farmers from block 6, 12 and 15 that were randomly selected from 15 blocks on Mooi River irrigation scheme in 2002. Convenience sampling of individuals was done resulting in an estimated 25 percent sample of the farmer population. A household survey was conducted with each participant to provide data on demographic detail. Aspects of the sustainable livelihood analysis data tool were used to guide this data collection and to encourage the farmers to identify their assets in terms of people in households, age, education level, skills, contribution to farming and off-farm income. Focus group discussions were also conducted with each selected block, guided by sustainable livelihoods analysis in order for the farmers to identify their assets, institutions as well as constraints; and strategies to improve their small-scale farming. The findings of this study showed that since 2002 the farmers' household size decreased which resulted in decreased family labour. In addition, the findings reflected that few young people were involved in farming. The level of illiteracy was still high among small-scale farmers and the few off-farm income-earning activities for farmers did not change for the better. Furthermore, off-farm income and farmers' markets to sell fresh produce decreased. The farmers had more skills and acquired more tools for farming. But accessing modern tools such as a tractor, bakkie, and water pump were still a challenge for the farmers. The findings showed that the farmers on the Mooi River irrigation scheme obtained support from farmers' associations, NGOs, and Provincial Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs which assisted them in their farming activities. Though the farmers obtained some support from the above-mentioned institutions, their farming constraints still persisted. As a result, the farmers made plans of action to minimize their constraints and improve their farming. The farmers planned to obtain fencing, undergo leadership training, use farmers' association constitutions, obtain a tractor, find markets, attend agricultural meetings, and obtain more dams, sprinklers and water pumps. This study recommends that young people be encouraged to be involved in farming through the introduction of cash crops. The study also recommends that farming be made more attractive to young people as they are stronger and more educated than their parents. In addition, it was recommended that adult education and farmers' training be introduced because there is high level of illiteracy. There was a need for job creation for farmers to be able to earn incomes to support their farming. Market opportunities, promoting credit facilities, and promoting modern technology were recommended to improve small-scale farming on the Mooi River irrigation scheme.
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    Provincial Department of Agriculture extension services and the needs of women's clubs in relation to departmental policies and practices in Hlanganani district, KwaZulu-Natal.
    (2002) Ndlela, Rejoice Nomusa.; Green, Jannette Maryann.; Hendriks, Sheryl Lee.
    The purpose of this study was to compare the needs of women's clubs to the services offered by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (KZNDAEA) at Hlanganani district. This study forms part of extension programme planning for the districts and it should feed into the management and policy making systems of the KZNDAEA to enable appropriate extension service provision that will help improve the operation of women's clubs. The surveys were conducted between May 1999 and August 2000. Four hundred and eighty five (485) women from thirty seven (37) women's clubs in the Hlanganani district, South East region, KwaZulu-Natal were included in the study. Questionnaires, small group discussions and observations were used to collect data from the women's clubs. To assess the services offered by the KZNDAEA, documents and reports of service provision from six districts in two agricultural regions, ie. South East and South West, were studied. Departmental policies of the National Department of Agriculture (NDA) and KZNDAEA were also reviewed to give insight into the services that the KZNDAEA should provide. The services provided were compared to the needs identified by the women's clubs of Hlanganani district. There were differences in the interpretation of policies by different KZNDAEA regions. The main activity in the districts served by KZNDAEA was generally community gardens. KZNDAEA tries to reach too many women's clubs with very limited resources, resulting in few KZNDAEA visits per club. The study revealed that while the main problem facing the women's clubs was lack of empowerment, the clubs themselves perceived lack of equipment to be the main problem. Women identified their training needs as being sewing, cookery and baking courses, motivated by the desire to increase incomes. KZNDAEA service provision did not meet women's clubs expressed needs for training, organisation and empowerment. It is recommended that districts should concentrate on effectively serving fewer women's clubs. KZNDAEA needs to review its current service delivery, perhaps pilot changed service delivery on a smaller number of clubs to focus on efficient and appropriate services to meet the needs of women. This research was on the needs of women as groups in women's clubs. Further research should focus on the needs of rural women as individuals rather than groups which are the main clients of the KZNDAEA if this Department is to deliver appropriate services. Forums or workshops involving different agricultural regions should be held where departmental policies are reviewed, communicated and interpreted in order to ensure uniformity in their interpretation and implementation. It is also recommended that KZNDAEA should look at ways of providing women's clubs with equipment and materials at least on a once off basis instead of providing physical structures only.
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    The potential use of rural schools in the Maphephetheni Lowlands as community resource centres.
    (2002) Struck, Renate Erika.; Green, Jannette Maryann.; Hendriks, Sheryl Lee.
    The purpose of the study was to investigate the potential for public rural schools to act as community resource centres. Focus group discussions, observation and interviews were conducted with educators, School Governing Body chairpersons and Development Committee members from nine rural schools in the Maphephetheni lowlands. Perceptions of these groups were explored, regarding awareness and use of available resources for community activities; functioning of school management and governance structures; and of the concept of schools as community resource centres. Findings were applied to Myeka High School, where a solar powered computer resource centre had been established. Data were analysed using Miles & Huberman's (1994, p.21) three major phases of qualitative data analysis. The study found that these schools do not act as community resource centres, although the potential exists. Resources alone and school management and governance structures were not the influencing factors in the establishment ofcommunity resource centres at schools. Opinions of educators, SGB chairpersons and Development Committee members was a factor which inhibited the schools from acting as effective community resource centres. The study found that obstacles, such as lack of available transport for educators, educators lack of participation in community programmes and educators mistrust of the community, existed which inhibited the establishment of effective community resource centres at the schools in the Maphephetheni lowlands. Myeka High School was not used by the community, but has the potential to establish a community resource centre at the school. Recommendations explain how these obstacles could be overcome. Policy recommendations for the establishment of community resource centres at schools are made.
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    Evaluation of solar-powered computer use by educators at Myeka High School, rural KwaZulu-Natal.
    (2002) Dube, Nurse Bongi.; Green, Jannette Maryann.; Hendriks, Sheryl Lee.
    The potential of solar systems to generate electricity to power computers in rural schools has been realised in areas where grid electricity is inaccessible. While donors may willingly donate computers to rural schools, the extent of their use is questionable. The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which Myeka High School educators used solar-powered computers and to determine factors affecting computer use. Myeka High School is located in the rural KwaZulu-Natal midlands, in the Ndwedwe district. It is characterised by a lack of grid electricity and basic infrastructure. Through private funding this school was provided with 20 solar-powered computers. A combination of survey questionnaires, observations, informal interviews and focus group discussions was used to collect data from 25 school staff, after computer training and Internet Explorer program access at the school. Data collected included educators' computer skills level, type of software used, time spent using computers and factors affecting computer use at the school. Survey results showed that the majority of educators were computer literate and used word processing more frequently than other software programs, but spent a relatively short duration of time using computers. The computers' capacity to enhance educators' tasks was the main motivation for them to use computers. However, low human capacity, high computer maintenance costs and poor physical infrastructure constrained educators' computer use. Recommendations are that interventions aimed at promoting computer use by rural educators should first develop human capacity and improve the infrastructure for using and maintaining computers. Implications for further research are to get learners' perspectives on computer use and to conduct a comparative study between Solar-powered computer and grid electricity-powered computers in schools, to further understand factors limiting computer use.
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    An examination of the perspectives and experiences of crop production by the beneficiaries of the Arable Lands Development Programme (ALDEP)
    (2011) Jones, Lindsey.; Van der Merwe, Marietjie.
    Botswana is considered an economic success story since the discovery of diamonds in the late 1960’s. While this mineral wealth allowed the government to invest in infrastructure which reduced poverty nationally, it still remained high in the rural areas. Subsistence agriculture is the main source of livelihood in these rural areas. However agriculture had declined from 42.7% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at independence in 1966 to a mere 1.8% of GDP in 2006. As a result, in the late 1970’s the Government of Botswana conceptualised an agricultural development programme to address the high poverty levels in rural areas, targeting “resource-poor farmers”. This programme was aptly named the Arable Lands Development Programme (ALDEP). The objective of ALDEP was essentially to address the problem of food insecurity and assist in overcoming poverty. In turn, the government aimed to reduce its growing grain deficit, urban migration and high unemployment. However, after almost three decades of implementation ALDEP had little impact on the beneficiaries’ income or crop production levels. This was despite the fact that there were significant economic resources available to implement ALDEP. The main aim of this study was therefore to examine the perspectives and experiences of crop production of the beneficiaries of ALDEP. In order to achieve this, a basic qualitative research approach was applied aiming to examine how the participants interpreted and gave meaning to their involvement in ALDEP. In order to collect the qualitative data, semistructured interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with nineteen beneficiaries of ALDEP, three District Agricultural Staff members and one supplier. The findings revealed that as a result of a lack of participation due to a top-down decision making process throughout ALDEP, beneficiaries felt their real needs had not been met. Although many of the beneficiaries had developed coping mechanisms to overcome the risks of farming through alternative sources of income, they remained dependent on government due to variety of factors beyond their control. These factors included the interrelated nature of the characteristics of the beneficiaries, the environment in which they lived, the resources available and their perceived psycho-social status. Minimal crops were planted because of the beneficiaries’ age, limited family labour due to urbanisation and working farm land that had little rain and poor soil The result was less or no income from crop production, thus defeating the objectives of ALDEP. Another finding was that due to the hardships the beneficiaries experienced as a result of these interrelated factors, the youth were not interested in arable farming. This could be a potential problem for the future of the arable agriculture economy in Botswana if it is not addressed. Thus, if the government of Botswana are to meet similar objectives to ALDEP in future arable agricultural programmes targeting the resource-poor, they would need to address their decision making approach, encourage greater participation, and develop farming techniques suitable for an aging farming population or develop means of attracting the youth to the arable farming sector.