Analyzing organic farming training in the curriculum of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.
Polepole, John Sanzimwami.
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The study was conducted in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, in the town of Pietermaritzburg, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The aim of the research was to analyse to what extent organic farming is part of the curriculum at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in the Faculty of Science and Agriculture. The objectives of the study consisted of determining what is currently offered in terms of organic farming or sustainable agriculture; identify what the perceptions of students and lecturers are about organic farming; and identify the challenges faced by academics and stakeholders in organic farming. The research method used to achieve the objectives was qualitative; it was done through interviews, site visits and observations. The data analysis used Microsoft Excel and SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) for interpretation and coding. This process was based on the data analysis spiral, as described by Creswell (1998) cited in Leedy and Ormrod (2005). The research found that in the UKZN current curriculum there is a presence of modules dealing with organic farming to a small extent. The perceptions of academic staff concerning organic farming were related to sustainability, environmental protection, use of alternative methods for food production, human health protection and knowledge for future generations. Organic farming was regarded as a crucial approach on different levels, including food security, environment, economy and market. The challenges in organic farming field are more related to costs involved in production, lack of interest or awareness, yield production (very poor and not competitive); limited career opportunities; lack of expertise in the organic domain, lack of government support and intense competition with chemical companies. The research recommends an enhancement of organic farming training in the curriculum at UKZN/PMB; involvement of students in developing the curriculum; government support for organic agriculture; more research exploring the merits and disadvantages of organic farming; assessment of farmers’ knowledge and skills in marketing; initiation of partnerships between organic farmers, processors, retailers; and government, to study a range of issues related to organic farming.
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