Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Agricultural Extension ]]> vol. 47 num. 3 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Revisiting the benefits of animal traction to subsistence smallholder farmers: a case study of Ndabakazi Villages in Butterworth, Eastern Cape Province of South Africa</b>]]> Animal traction has long been a pillar of agricultural production up until the invention of mechanical power which diverted attention to modern mechanical power and led to many perceiving it as backwards, irrelevant and less important. The objective of this article is to relate the known, but forgotten, benefits of animal traction to smallholder farming by presenting evidence of how these benefits still relate to subsistence smallholders using a case study of Ndabakazi villages in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Primary data were drawn from a sample of 80 subsistence farming households. These were randomly selected and a semi-structured questionnaire was administered using a local language. Focus group discussions were used to supplement the questionnaire. The overall finding is that animal traction is indeed still relevant to subsistence farming households. It cuts arable production costs relating mainly to ploughing, planting and weeding, which are the major costly activities. Finally, the adoption of donkeys, horses and mules is recommended, since cattle are not widely kept. Moreover, cattle are labour intensive compared to the recommended animals. <![CDATA[<b>Perception and understanding of agricultural extension: perspective of farmers and public agricultural extension in Taba Nchu</b>]]> Agriculture is a backbone for the overall development of Africa. It is widely acknowledged that the small-scale farmers need empowerment through extension services to achieve the National Development Plan of South Africa. The aim of this paper is to improve the understanding of different role players on the concept of agricultural extension service in South Africa. This study concentrated on the rarely assessed different role players' concept of extension service, especially farmers and agricultural extension officers with respect to the objective of extension, agricultural extension principles, extension teaching, and methods teaching aids and tools. The results found that a general mismatch exists between farmers and agricultural extension officers on the conceptualisation of indicators such as extension objectives and teaching methods. A match exits on indicators of extension principles as well as teaching aids and tools. The article suggests that to promote sustainable agricultural development, agricultural extension should be critically considered with the development policy of ending hunger and poverty in South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analyses for multiple extension services in the high value crop programme: insight for pluralistic extension policy</b>]]> Following an extensive consultative process that looked into the challenges underpinning the public extension services in South Africa in 2016, the government introduced a new policy that advocates for a pluralistic approach when rendering extension services. Using the High Value Crop (HVC) Programme in OR Tambo as a case study, the objective of this paper is to carry out the Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunity and Threats (SWOT) analyses in order to generate insights into the important policy directives to be considered when implementing the new policy. Results show that participation of multiple extension agencies in the HVC served as a strength for the project. In terms of weaknesses, the issue offailure to implement partnership agreements at a project level and lack of coordination of services rendered were viewed as challenges. Furthermore, pluralistic extension services carry opportunities for smallholder farmers. For public extension officers to play a role of coordination in a pluralistic extension service, more resources (personnel numbers and funding) need to be mobilised. In order to ensure project sustainability, different extension agencies need to develop a common exit strategy. <![CDATA[<b>Gender gap in Sub-Saharan Africa, reminiscence of rural extension and advisory services: delineation, challenges and strategies</b>]]> The paper examines the delineation and variation in the gender gap and agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa, highlighting precise challenges in the provision of gender-sensitive rural advisory services and offered strategies for gender mainstreaming for rural agricultural advisory services. Literature on the gender gap and advisory services were extensively reviewed. The result of the study revealed that improving gender equity through agricultural production may translate into a contribution towards poverty reduction and improving sub-Saharan African economies. In addition, proper designing of extension and rural advisory services programmes could be a promising strategy for terminating the existing gap between men and women in agriculture. The customary laws, socio-cultural and religious norms, and gender-blind policies that often inhibit women from enjoying their rights and access to and control of productive resources, economic opportunities and decision making must be repelled. The paper concludes that equitable organisational culture underpinned by organisational policies must be developed. An inclusive enabling atmosphere is also critical in the provision of gender-sensitive rural advisory services. It is recommended that the enactment of policies that will erase the gender gap in African agriculture could be beneficial, not only for women, but also for their families and communities in sub-Saharan Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Awareness of porcine helminthiasis and the prevalent farm management operations among smallholder pig farmers in the Free State</b>]]> Porcine helminthiasis and its zoonotic tendencies can lead to considerable loss of productivity and food security, especially in subsistence farming systems. Using open- and closed-ended questionnaires, this study was designed to ascertain the level of awareness of smallholder pig farmers in the selected districts of the Free State Province of South Africa to porcine helminthiasis and to gather information on the various pre- and post-slaughter practices prevalent in these areas. Results show that intestinal helminths emerged as the most common herd health problem (65.2%). There was a high rate of ignorance towards anthelmintic resistance and zoonoses among farmers. Similarly, 53.3% of respondents described the cost of anthelmintics as "expensive". A high positive correlation (P<0.01) between some farming practices exist. Furthermore, 73.9% of respondents do not slaughter their pigs in an abattoir due to the high cost of slaughter and transportation, long distances to the abattoir, and small scale of production. Moreover, 50.0% of the farmers reported that their pig production enterprise was not profitable or viable. The information from this study may be used as baseline knowledge to help formulate the development of extension programmes for sustainable pig rearing and pork production, especially among smallholder farmers. <![CDATA[<b>The impact of the farmer field school approach on small-scale vegetable producers' knowledge and production in Alice, Eastern Cape, South Africa</b>]]> This paper investigates the impact of the farmer field school approach on the knowledge and production of small-scale vegetable producers, namely home gardeners. Farmer field schools were developed in the 1980s by the Food and Agriculture Organisation as a form of adult education in agriculture. It is a group-based approach in which a facilitator meets with producers on a regular basis and sets in motion a process by which producers 'learn how to learn'. It remains an open question whether the farmer field school approach could be a solution to South Africa's abiding problem of weak agricultural extension. In early 2015, the University of Fort Hare and the Nkonkobe Farmers' Association initiated a number of study groups in the Alice area of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, based largely on farmer field school principles. The research findings reported in this article are part of an effort to determine to what extent these study groups had the desired effect. After administering surveys to 118 study group members, before and after comparisons were drawn with regards to members' self-assessed knowledge and skills, and production levels of a number of garden vegetables. The findings revealed an impressive increase in self-assessed knowledge and skills, as well as in production, consumption and selling of vegetables. Based on these findings and given the current state of agricultural extension in South Africa, it can be recommended that expansion of the farmer field school approach takes place in other areas, while attempting to better understand the mechanisms underlying the improvements already observed. <![CDATA[<b>Factors influencing off-take rates of smallholder sheep farming systems in the Western Cape Provinve of South Africa</b>]]> The purpose of this study was to determine off-take rates in smallholder sheep farming systems in the Western Cape province of South Africa. A purposeful sampling technique was used where smallholder farmers were selected based on certain criteria. The criterion set out was that farmers must own between five and 100 sheep. Interviews were conducted with 72 smallholder farmers in three districts, namely the West Coast, Karoo and Eden. General information on the socio-economic status of the farmers was obtained through semi-structured questionnaires. The main sources of income for the Karoo farmers was livestock (46%) and crops for Eden (32%). Farmers in the West Coast area mostly relied on salaries (43%), thus off-farm income. The Karoo district sold a higher average number of lambs per year (41 ± 8.8), with West Coast and Eden selling the same average number of lambs per year at 7 ± 2.2 and 7 ± 2.6 respectively. Overall, the income derived from livestock is low and not economically sustainable. Therefore, different strategies (such as access to market, financial assistance, improved animal nutrition and health management, as well as sound breeding plans) should be employed to assist smallholder livestock farmers to increase off-take rates. <![CDATA[<b>Readiness of the Swaziland sugar industry towards the use of information and communication technology: perceptions of smallholder sugarcane farmers and extension officers</b>]]> The study investigated smallholder sugarcane farmers and extension officers' perceptions of readiness towards the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), especially cell phones, as a source of technology for accessing information within the Swaziland sugar industry. The study was a census involving all active smallholder sugarcane farmers in Swaziland (N=172) and their extension officers (N=17). Quantitative data were collected through face-to-face interviews using a valid and reliable structured questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and one way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were applied to analyse the data. The results revealed that sugarcane farmers and extension officers perceive the Swaziland sugar industry to be ready for the introduction and subsequent use of ICTs to access sugarcane production information. The sugar industry infrastructure and other facilities that are necessary for the use of cell phones were perceived to be ready. All respondents possessed cell phones which they personally owned. The entire sugar industry had access to cellular network and electricity. It was also shown that some demographic variables of respondents did have an influence on their perceptions regarding the industry's readiness towards the use of cell phones to access information. The results of this study can provide guidance to the government and the sugar industry of Swaziland when considering implementing improved information dissemination based programmes. <![CDATA[<b>Climate change: perception and adaptation responses of poultry smallholder farmers in Amathole District Municipality, Eastern Cape Province of South Africa</b>]]> Characterised by high industrialisation, consumption, and trade, poultry production has become a predominant component of the agricultural industry. Climate change, however, is posing a critical challenge to its sustainability and rural sustenance. It has therefore become exigent to assess these impacts and available adaptation efforts put in place to assuage these risks. A multistage sampling procedure was used to select 101 smallholder poultry farmers in 18 villages across the Amathole District Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. An assessment of climate change and perceived impact on production, adaptation responses, and effectiveness of the responses were carried out using simple descriptive and inferential statistical tools. The results show that reduction in quantity of egg production, egg quality and sizes, loss of weight affecting meat production, increase in cost offeeding, disease spread, and mortality rate of birds are the most perceived impacts of climate change. The adaptation responses of the poultry farmers in the area are extremely limited, with only three adaptation measures available. These measures include rearing different varieties of birds, destocking, and dependence on social welfare, which was found to be taken up by more than half of the poultry farmers. However, none of these adaption measures were perceived as effective, suggesting poor adaptation to climate change in the study area. <![CDATA[<b>A review of the role of agricultural extension and training in achieving sustainable food security: a case of South Africa</b>]]> The aim of this paper was to investigate the role of agricultural extension and training for sustainable food security. Improvement of a country's human capacity for productivity is a prerequisite for social and economic development. This study is a review of the envisaged role of agricultural extension and training for sustainable food security amongst smallholder farmers in South Africa. Findings revealed that agricultural extension can contribute to sustainable food security through knowledge dissemination to farmers, for informed decision making. However, for the extension personnel to be better equipped for knowledge dissemination and to realise the goal of sustainable food security, sustained agricultural extension human resource development through investment in education is a prerequisite. Moreover, institutions of higher education need to play a developmental role through establishing linkages with research, extension and farming communities in order to promote sustainable food security, and to increase the relevance of information and technology passed down to farmers. As such, there is a needfor extension educators to ensure that training is responsive to the current needs offarmers. There is a need for models of extension education which are flexible enough to adapt to the environmental, social, economic and physical changes. Therefore, the findings of this study provide guidelines for reforms in extension education systems. This is of importance for informed policy crafting towards improved public extension services.