Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Agricultural Extension ]]> vol. 47 num. 1 lang. <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Perceptions of extension officers regarding public extension services: a case study of horticultural extension officers in the Hhohho region, Eswatini</b>]]> The role ofpublic extension in the sustainability and development of rural smallholder farmers is central to rural development. Although the benefits of public extension cannot be quantified to justify its funding, it remains pivotal to the success of poor smallholders with low literacy levels. The reports on agricultural extension in Eswatini paints blink picture on public extension. Data was collected on a census of 13 horticultural EOs alongside a snowballed sample of 82 farmers across the Hhohho region. The senior extension staff participated in a group discussion. The EOs were predominantly young males and were not trained in extension service delivery. The farmers were predominantly older females and had low levels of education. The EOs perceived themselves as good in horticultural issues and average in farmer management and agribusiness issues. They faced a number of challenges including work overload, being under-staffed, poorly resourced, inactive farmer groups, inconsistency of farmers' participation, and poor personal welfare. Institutionalising smallholder farmers in the community development plans (CDPs) and organising them into formal groups like cooperatives was identified as the first step towards improving public extension. This should be supported by training of EOs on Extension and business management. This would improve the efficiency of offering extension services and other benefits of collective operations. This would also reduce the EOs required per RDA and will enable the government to improve the welfare and operations of EOs. <![CDATA[<b>Evaluation of South Africa's public agricultural extension in the context of sustainable agriculture</b>]]> South Africa's public agricultural extension services evolved from as early as the beginning of 1900. Agricultural extension is now recognised as a science by the South African Council of Natural Science Profession (SACNASP). This paper presents a philosophical argument that the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices should remain the domain of public extension and advisory services. To provide context, the paper firstly defines agricultural extension and the role extension could play in promoting the five pillars of sustainable agriculture. Secondly, it evaluates the national policy on extension and advisory services to determine the extent to which it addresses the framework of the five pillars for sustainable agriculture. Thirdly, the paper evaluates the Extension Recovery Plan (ERP), norms and standards for agricultural extension and the National Development Plan (NDP) against the framework of sustainable agriculture. The evaluation indicates that only three pillars of sustainability are emphasised. There is a need to subdivide the traditional pillars to align with the full framework for sustainability. The initial findings suggest that, while South Africa's agricultural extension policy often refers to sustainability and even to sustainable agriculture, they do so using the traditional three-pillared framework of economic, environmental and social sustainability, and thus fall short on key elements essential to sustainable agriculture, namely maintaining and increasing biological productivity, decreasing the level of risk to ensure larger security, protecting the quality of natural resources, ensuring agricultural production is economically viable, and ensuring agricultural production is socially acceptable. The paper also explores government initiatives to support extension and advisory services. Finally, this paper concludes by emphasising that the national policy on extension and advisory services should be amended to suit the five pillars of sustainable agriculture. <![CDATA[<b>Poultry farmers' perceptions of extension service delivery through input providers in Ogbomoso zone of Oyo State, Nigeria</b>]]> This study examined commercial poultry farmers' perceptions of extension services rendered through input providers in Ogbomoso Agricultural Zone of Oyo State. A multi-stage sampling procedure was used in selecting 99 commercial poultry farmers. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire and analysed with descriptive and inferential statistical tools. The results showed that the mean age offarmers was 43.0± 7.1 years; most farmers (74.4%) were male, while 28.9% were educated. Input providers rendered various extension services such as farmer mobilisation (78.9%), investment information (78.9%) and facilitating seminars/workshops (75.6%). Commercial poultry farmers' perceptions of input providers' extension services was shown to be favourable (53.3%). There was a significant negative correlation between age and perception of extension services (r = -0.25, p<0.05). For enhanced and sustainable input providers' extension services, there is the need to ensure a blend between both publicly and privately provided extension services. This may involve role delineation for each actor to complement each other towards sustainable extension services in poultry production. <![CDATA[<b>Capacity development for scaling up Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) innovations: agricultural extension's role in mitigating climate change effects in Gqumashe community, Eastern Cape, South Africa</b>]]> This study aimed at ascertaining what role agricultural extension plays in mitigating the effects of climate change and variability using farmers' perceptions in Gqumashe village, Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality, Eastern Cape, South Africa. The survey research design was adopted for the study, and data for the study were collected from 50 respondents using a convenience sampling method in the study area. Data was analysed using SPSS and descriptive statistics (means, percentages and graphs) were produced. Farmers in the study area were aware of and perceived climate change and variability as detrimental to agricultural production as they reported various problems associated with changes and variability in climate to their extension workers and other available agricultural officials. The paper concludes by making three recommendations: a) Extension agents as the disseminators of information to farmers need to conduct targeted training for farmers in order to raise more awareness about climate change and variability as a subject; b)Extension agents need to visit farmers regularly and also provide information on current issues related to farming, new technology development for agriculture andfarming, climate change and variability issues, as well as training about new agricultural techniques to counteract climate change and variability effects; and c) Extension agents need to proactively meet the expressed need for market information and storage facilities. <![CDATA[<b>The impact of extension intensities on income of sheep producers in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa</b>]]> Agricultural extension remains a key strategy for dissemination of improved agricultural technologies, yet its effectiveness is related to the level of engagement with farmers. The aim of this study was to analyse the impact of extension intensities on income of sheep producers in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The study employed a cross-sectional research design and purposive sampling technique to select 105 sheep producing households who had differing degrees of exposure to the extension service in terms of the frequency of visits they hosted. The results showed that the extension intensity did not seem to have played an important role in the level of income of the households that raised and sold sheep. While this is a reflection of the fact that the existing extension services are delivered to groups rather than individual farmers, whereas farming occurs at the individual level, it is probable that measurement of the extension engagement could be an issue. Whatever the case is, the study recommends the use of other extension methods, such as face-to-face interactions, demonstrations, and more frequent visits by the extension officers, which would improve the extension effects, thus allowing the modification of the methodology to quantify the level of extension intensity employed. <![CDATA[<b>An overview of perceptions and attitudes towards extension service delivery in Fezile Dabi District, Free State Province</b>]]> Agricultural extension plays a pivotal role in developing countries and is responsible for promoting and supporting farmers to ensure sustainable agricultural growth and access to key means of production. However, research shows that agricultural extension services have not been performing well, and in most cases is invisible and limited. This research reflects the effectiveness of agricultural extension service delivery as perceived by extension advisors and farmers in the Fezile Dabi District of the Free State Province of South Africa. The findings reflect the perceptions and opinions of 200 smallholder farmers and 15 extension advisors from the Fezile Dabi District in the Free State Province. The majority off armers perceive extension advisors as a very important source of information and support. Although there are many agricultural development programmes rolled out in the province, only 20% of the respondents are participating in these programmes because of limited funding and biased behaviour shown towards some elites. Extension advisors in general are of the opinion that they have the necessary competencies and skills to be good agriculturalists. Some of the key recommendations to policy makers are that the funding system for agricultural projects and programmes should be revised and that partnerships between public and private enterprises should be embraced where possible to enhance support to small scale farmers in the district. <![CDATA[<b>Aquaponics model specific to South African conditions</b>]]> Aquaponics is the integration of aquaculture (fish) and hydroponic culture (plants) as one system. Aquaponics requires a sound simultaneous understanding of two agricultural ecosystems (fish and plants) in order to have a viable system. Modelling and model development is sacrosanct in systems where productivity is uncertain or complex. The study was conducted in 2016 to collect aquaponics information in the Republic of South Africa (RSA) using an online survey questionnaire to determine local aquaponics uses, management and distribution. A total of 44 aquaponics operators were captured within three months (September-November) in 2016. In this study, it was shown and concluded that most aquaponics practitioners in RSA do not have adequate knowledge and skills in aquaponics production and management, and that development of the localised aquaponics model is important for South Africa. As a result, the aim of this study was to develop a model that is more specific to South African conditions in order to help South Africans to have a better opportunity to establish and operate aquaponic systems. This study was designed as a mixed approach combining different methods and sources of data to develop the model. Unified Modelling Language (UML), Microsoft excel, an online survey, observations, structured and unstructured interviews and content data were used. The developed model was able to predict the main aquaponics inputs variables, namely fish stocking density, daily fish feed, and required planting area. The fit for each of these variables was good to average with R=0.7477, 0.6957, and 0.4313 respectively. There were no significant differences (P<0.05) between the observed and simulated data for all variables (fish stocking density, daily fish and planting area variables). Therefore, it was concluded that this model can be adopted by aquaponics practitioners in RSA and extension officers or facilitators as an aquaponics start-up platform. <![CDATA[<b>Improving management practices of emerging cattle farmers in selected areas of the Eastern Cape Province: the role of agricultural extension</b>]]> The study was conducted to determine cattle production and management practices of developing cattle farmers in two selected districts (Amathole and Chris Hani) in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The study mainly focused on beef cattle farmers that are farming on leased or private land. From both districts, 60 respondents (30 per district) were interviewed using structured questionnaires. Results showed that 33% of the study sample had low levels of education while only 15% (n=10) had tertiary education qualifications. Cattle management activities were performed by almost all the respondents except deworming which was done by only 33%. The respondents were mostly vaccinating for diseases such as Black quarter (42%), Redwater (40%), and Anthrax (30%). The assessed farmers were controlling parasites with many different methods, however, pour on was found to be the most frequently used method (52%), followed by plunge dipping (33%) and hand spray (32%). There were farmers that planted cultivated pastures (35%) and some that were also using supplements (licks) for their herds (77%). As bush encroachments were not a problem in some farms, most farmers were not taking any actions, but 24% were using fires when reducing moribund. Breeding monitoring activities (birth observation, pregnant test and bull futility testing) were conducted by the respondents (78%, 15% and 12% respectively). It is recommended that agricultural extension play an imperative role in linking possible role players and farmers. <![CDATA[<b>Participatory variety selection of maize genotypes in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa</b>]]> Participatory variety selection (PVS) is important in understanding farmers' selection criteria, raising awareness, and facilitating adoption of improved varieties. This study aimed to understand farmers' maize selection criteria, identify superior varieties based on farmers' selections, combined with use of agronomic yield data. The study was conducted in Jixini and Mkhwezo in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Focus group discussions (FGD) and semi-structured questionnaires were used to identify maize selection criteria. Seven maize open pollinated varieties (OPVs) from CIMMYT-Zimbabwe (ZM 305, ZM 423 ZM 501, ZM 525, Obatanpa, ZM 621, ZM 627), two from IITA-Nigeria (BR 993, and Comp 4), three locally grown maize OPVs (Okavango, Afric 1 and Nelson's Choice) and a hybrid check (Pan 6479) were evaluated together with farmers in each of the villages. Farmer-selection criteria common to both villages were ear traits such as taste, long cobs, and big kernels. Other traits, such as prolificacy, early maturity, retainability of seed and dark leaves were village specific. Three varieties (Okavango, ZM 305 and ZM 501) were selected by farmers. In addition, there were no significant differences between the highest yielding varieties within each site. Farmers' choices were, therefore, consistent with selections made based on yield performance. However, some of the important traits for farmers, such as taste, were not normally prioritised, but should be considered when developing or recommending varieties. This will increase the likelihood of their adoption in marginal areas of South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Small-scale livestock farmers' participation in markets: evidence from the land reform beneficiaries in the Central Karoo, Western Cape, South Africa</b>]]> Since the launch of the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) programme by the government, several small-scale farmers have slowly integrated into the mainstream markets. The main objective of the study was to evaluate and analyse the factors affecting participation in mainstream markets by the small-scale livestock farmers in the Central Karoo, Western Cape Province of South Africa. A sample of 36 small-scale farmer projects was purposively selected from the study area, and the data was collected using a semi-structured questionnaire. Thereafter a multinomial regression model was applied to the primary data. The results show that age, farming experience, number of beneficiaries, employment status and farmer training have a strong positive effect on the likelihood of small-scale livestock farmers marketing their sheep to the mainstream markets such as abattoirs and auctions. Furthermore, distance to the nearest market, access to market infrastructure and access to credit have a negative impact on the likelihood of those participating in the formal markets. The study suggests that the government should address the challenges faced by the small-scale farmers through interventions and improving access to markets. <![CDATA[<b>A mobile phone application for agricultural extension in marginalised rural areas of Pongola region, Zululand district, South Africa</b>]]> Subsistence farming plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic development and food security of rural populations. Strategic application of information and communication technology (ICT) to agriculture industry offers great opportunities for economic growth and poverty alleviation. The aim of this work is to implement a mobile solution that provides a platform to enable both extension officers to communicate information on agricultural extension and collaborate on farming and irrigation techniques. In addition, the mobile phone application would assist in sharing market related information for buying, selling of their produce, weather, andfinance related services, as well as training and employment opportunities. Being better informed, the local farming community would be able to make decisions that would ultimately lead to an improvement in their socio-economic conditions. Thus, a survey was conducted with 93 farmers selected by random sampling in the Pongola region of Zululand district to establish the penetration of mobile phones. It was found that 94.6% of the farmers owned mobile phones varying in capabilities from simple to smart phones. Based on the findings of the survey, mobile phone application using Java platform was developed and deployed to the cloud. The users expressed satisfaction with the features and the functionalities of the developed system. <![CDATA[<b>National and provincial officials' knowledge on phytosanitary matters for food security in South Africa</b>]]> The goal of this study was to investigate and identify the existing knowledge gaps on plant health systems of the national and provincial officials responsible for biosecurity issues and plant health matters at the Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in South Africa. In this study, stratified random sampling was used and a semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect data from 60 participants (30 each from national and provincial) from DAFF (scientists and inspectors), Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) (biodiversity officers) and Provincial Departments of Agriculture (PDAs) (extension officers or agricultural advisors). The data was analysed statistically using the one-way frequency and Spearman's Rank correlation coefficients. The study revealed that 76.7% of the respondents at the national level have knowledge and understanding on plant health systems and only 36.7% of the PDAs respondents have such a level of knowledge. In terms of the relevant training on plant health matters, the majority of the respondents at the PDAs (80%) revealed that they were not receiving basic training on quarantine pests (pest identification and control), while only 20% of the respondents at the national authority indicated a lack of regular trainings. Thus, intensifying awareness and basic training on plant health matters, specifically for the extension officers and/or agricultural advisors, was found to be an effective tool to enhance knowledge capacity. <![CDATA[<b>Sorghum value chain analysis in semi-arid Zimbabwe</b>]]> The role of extension in strengthening relationships among stakeholders along agricultural commodity value chains remains an important discussion point especially with orphan crops in semi-arid areas. The study used a participatory framework to analyse the sorghum value chain in the Mid Zambezi Valley of Zimbabwe. A sample comprising of 380 small scale farmers, proportionately selected from five major sorghum producing wards, was used. Six agro-dealers, 15 traders, 10 retailers, three wholesalers, and two processors were also sampled. In addition, focus group discussions, informant interviews, questionnaires and reviews of financial records were conducted. Input supply systems for sorghum are weakly developed and production is stalled by inappropriate innovations including seed and fertilizer application. Marketing and processing channels are limited due to erratic supply and low producer prices. Demand for sorghum inputs can be created by engaging extension agents in helping farmers with realising the benefits of using improved sorghum seed varieties and fertilizer in sorghum production. This will smoothen the flow of sorghum products along strategic value chain nodes.