Repository logo

Factors influencing the level of vegetable value chain participation and implications on smallholder farming and food security in Swayimane, KwaZulu-Natal.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



In less developed countries, smallholder farming is important for development that could alleviate poverty, improve livelihoods, and contribute to household food security. However, Smallholder farming in South Africa is synonymous with a myriad of challenges. Key among them being access to markets. Most of the smallholder farmers in South Africa lack access to established commercial markets because of a lack of or limited access to information, assets, and institutions that can support smallholder farmers to produce for formal markets. This study aimed to introduce and test the Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion (SHEP) model for vegetable value chain development in Swayimane, KwaZulu-Natal. The SHEP model was used to psychologically empower smallholder vegetable farmers to practice market-orientated agriculture while also acknowledging “Farming as a business”. The study aimed at identifying the existing food value chains in the study area along with the different linkages between value chain actors. The study further identified and explored the factors that influence the participation level in the vegetable value chain and implications on smallholder farming in Swayimane. Furthermore, the study explored the impact of participating in agricultural value chains on household food insecurity. Business linkages between farmers and market actors were identified through the practical implementation of the SHEP. The research approach was both community-based participatory and translational research because it involved training of smallholder farmers. The research adopted a mixed-methods methodology where both qualitative and quantitative approaches to collect data were used. The data was collected from a purposive sample of smallholder farmers using a survey questionnaire, baseline surveys, and a semi-structured focus group discussion questionnaire. The data were analyzed using descriptive analysis, value chain mapping, the nehurdle model, and an instrumental variable Poisson model. The value chain map showed that the coordination among value chain actors is strongly influenced by opportunities and constraints such as a lack of access to credit, lack of access to agricultural inputs, water in-security, infertile soils, lack of storage facilities, packaging, poor infrastructure, lack of market information, and price fluctuations Results from the nehurdle model showed that the age of the respondent, marital status, farm income, household size, cooperative, market information, radio, extension officer, and formal education significantly influenced the participation decisions of smallholder farmers in agricultural value chains. The results further showed that off-farm income, marital status, cooperatives, access to credit, access to irrigation scheme, radio, extension officer, contact with non-government organizations, and formal education significantly influenced the level of value chain participation of the smallholder farmers. The results from the instrumental variable Poisson model showed that Value chain participation, marital status, age of the household head, formal education, farm income, lease rent on land, access to NGOs, access to credit, access to agricultural agency, access to extension services and access to irrigation schemes were significant in influencing household food insecurity status of smallholder farmers. It can be concluded that the level of endowment in the physical, financial, and human resources influence participation in agricultural value chains. The farmer’s level of success and improved outcomes are influenced by access to markets. It is recommended that a market-led approach to farmer development be adopted to improve the commercial prospects of farmers while also enhancing food security. Policy should consider empowerment for market access through effective market- based farmer training and the creation of market and business linkages. This study also concluded that value chain participation had a positive impact on enhancing food security among smallholder farmers. The factors that influence the level of value chain participation among men and women farmers respectively in the study area were identified. Therefore, policymakers must take into consideration and understand the influence that these factors have before drawing policies for value chain development. Furthermore, the SHEP influenced the behavior of the farmers to focus on planting crops that were demanded by the market and to keep records while practice farming as a business.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.