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Assessment of the contribution of smallholder agriculture to rural household food security in Sekhukhune District, Limpopo Province.

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While South Africa appears to meet its national food requirements, access to food at household level remains a challenge for 14.3 million South Africans. Paradoxically, the majority of households with inadequate or severely inadequate access to food are smallholder farmers in rural areas. The study assessed the contribution of smallholder agriculture to rural household food security in Sekhukhune district of Limpopo province. The study employed only quantitative research data collection. Data collection was through a random sample of 175 respondents in five localities in Sekhukhune district. A structured questionnaire was administered through face-to-face interviews. The study utilized the sustainable livelihoods framework to explore the smallholder agriculture and food security nexus. A logit regression model estimated the socio-economic factors affecting household involvement in agriculture. The results suggest that market access, land ownership, gender, education, age, and household size had statistically significant effects on household involvement in agriculture. The food security status of households in Sekhukhune District was determined using the Household Dietary Diversity Score. According to the score classification, about 54.9% households were food secure while 45.1% were food insecure. A higher percentage of households practising agriculture were food secure (62%) compared to non-farming households (50%). The study then employed a Tobit model to estimate the demographic variables that determine the food security status of households. The results suggest that age, non-farm income, social grants, access to market, agriculture involvement and livestock ownership had a statistically significant impact on household food security. The study concludes that smallholder agricultural production alone is insufficient to propel households out of poverty and food insecurity. Other livelihood strategies are required to complement smallholder agriculture. Resource-poor agricultural producers only realize limited success in generating income from farming activities. The study recommends improvement of agricultural producer support services to incentivize farmers and to address identified constraints such as the costs of agricultural inputs and access to land and markets.


Master of Science in Food Security. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2017.