Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Agricultural Extension ]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=0301-603X20110001&lang=pt vol. 39 num. 1 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Moving change to the top of the agenda</b>: <b>learning from the on-ground decision-makers</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0301-603X2011000100001&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt This paper draws on innovation decision-making theory and a number of extension research and evaluation projects in which the authors have participated to explore the pathway to practice change and how it can be influenced. It suggests that a major factor influencing the rate of adoption, is the ability of decision-makers to 'play' with the new approach and so make a decision based on confidence that it will work for them. The authors build on a number of papers on decision-making which describe the stages through which people move in the adoption process. Reference is made to authors who overlay these stages with the capacity and motivation for change - and the impact of contextual factors such as structural changes in agriculture, available finances, farm size and climate. The findings are pulled together in a tabulated checklist to guide project teams in ways that best foster play - and hence more rapid applicable adoption of innovations. It is concluded that providing the best information on its own is rarely enough - providing space to play with that information is critical if adoption is to be accelerated. <![CDATA[<b>An assessment of the adoption of compost manure by smallholder farmers in Balaka District, Malawi</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0301-603X2011000100002&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt The decline in soil fertility is widespread in Malawi and is threatening food security in the country. While the use of inorganic fertilizers to improve soil fertility has immediate results, the escalating prices make it impossible for the majority of smallholder farmers to use them. There is, therefore, need for alternative low-cost soil fertility enhancing technologies. Compost manure seems to be a viable option to be promoted. This study was designed to assess the adoption of compost manure making and utilization by smallholder farmers. The study was conducted through a combination of individual interviews and observation of 150 smallholder farmers as well as through focus group discussions. Key recommendations for compost manure technology were identified through consultations with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. Based on the key recommendations, a knowledge test was constructed to assess knowledge of the technology and a checklist was designed to assess farmer practice. The study revealed that the most critical factor that affected the adoption of compost manure technology was knowledge. Given that knowledge is a pre-requisite to any technology adoption, farmers knowledge on composting will therefore need to be raised substantially before appreciable levels of adoption can be expected. The amounts of compost that farmers made fell far short of their annual needs because of the late timing of the actual compost manure making. However, farmers have a positive perception of the compost manure technology as they believe it improves soil productivity. <![CDATA[<b>Action research</b>: <b>a practical step-by-step guide for Agricultural extension professionals</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0301-603X2011000100003&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt Agricultural extension professionals lag behind their counterparts in research and training institutions with regard to conducting research and generating new knowledge. This is mainly because conventional research methods are not appropriate for field practitioners whose main preoccupation is improving livelihoods of farming communities. However the success of field extensionists depends on their ability to identify and exploit opportunities for improvement. Therefore, they need research methods and approaches that enable them to generate reliable data and information which they can use to solve farmers' problems. Given that the role of extension is basically to ensure that farmers have appropriate knowledge and skills, there is need to continuously find out whether farmers indeed have appropriate knowledge and skills. There is need to find out whether farmers apply appropriate knowledge and skills and reasons why they may not be applying appropriate knowledge and skills. Based on the findings, the extensionists will be able to identify the action required to improve upon the existing situation. This calls for knowledge and skills in action oriented research. This paper provides simple, easy to follow, step-by-step guidelines which should be suitable for many situations in extension research - whether one is researching adoption of an enterprise, an extension approach or the functioning of a farmer organization. The guidelines are based on experience acquired from in-service, custom-made, degree programmes for mid-career extension professionals. <![CDATA[<b>Farmer support and extension to land reform farms in the Central Karoo - part 1</b>: <b>a baseline survey of farm potential, farmer profiles and farm management knowledge and practices</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0301-603X2011000100004&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt Land reform farms in the Central Karoo district of the Western Cape province of South Africa were surveyed in 2008 to gather baseline data on the infrastructure, production practices and economic viability in order to align extension and farmer development programmes of the Department of Agriculture in the Central Karoo to farmer needs. On-farm personal interviews with the managing members/decision makers of 15 farms were conducted. This paper reports on the farm structure, farm potential, farmer profiles and farm management knowledge and practices of land reform farms. Farms are held in the form of community land trusts with fairly large numbers of beneficiaries who do not reside on the farm. Large group numbers and a lack of co-operation or complete non-involvement in trust matters made it difficult to manage conflicts and power relations within the trust and to reach consensus on farming matters. Farms in general seem to be too small to provide a sustainable livelihood, given the number of trust beneficiaries and the resource potential of the land. Smaller farms tend to have lower carrying capacities which limit the income potential of smaller farms further. Agricultural managers were found to be mostly middle-aged to elderly men, with education levels ranging across the full spectrum, but 40% at intermediate level and lower. Most of the agricultural managers live off-farm and hold other jobs, making management of agricultural operations more challenging. Prior experience of farming is mostly limited to labourer and commonage farmer level. Coupled to this, limited management and scientific knowledge and skills affect the extent to which production-, marketing- and financial management practices are aligned with commercial business practices. Baseline evidence highlighted a number of important areas to be considered in farmer development and extension to land reform farmers. Establishing a set of baseline data can assist in future monitoring and evaluation of land reform project successes/failures and contribute to the development of a co-ordinated extension and development programme. <![CDATA[<b>Farmer support and extension to land reform farms in the Central Karoo - part 2</b>: <b>a baseline assessment of farm-level economic viability</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0301-603X2011000100005&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt A study was undertaken on land reform farms acquired over the past ten years in the Central Karoo district of the Western Cape in South Africa. On-farm personal interviews with the managing members/decision makers of 15 farms were conducted in 2008 in order to establish a baseline measurement of the infrastructural, production and economic viability at farm level. This paper focuses on the economic viability of farms and some implications for extension support. Data from individual enterprises were analysed at the gross margin level and the full farm at net farm income level in order to assess farm efficiency and return on investment. Baseline evidence suggests lower than expected returns. Amongst the main findings reported in the paper is the fact that farms in general are too small to provide a sustainable income, given the resource potential and number of owners/beneficiaries per farm. Stock losses due to problem-animals, together with low reproduction performance and drought related mortalities negatively influenced the capacity to generate sufficient returns. In addition, farm management knowledge, skills and experience are at low levels. Baseline evidence suggests that agricultural extension services and institutions involved in land reform policies need to upscale on farm economics and viability assessments of farm operations. Management information systems need to be established and maintained to record physical and financial information in order to assist emerging farmers with agricultural economics extension. <![CDATA[<b>Mentorship a key success factor in sustainable land reform projects in South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0301-603X2011000100006&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt The Land Reform Program is a priority program in South Africa to redress the matter of land ownership. However the number of failures of projects implemented is alarmingly high and the majority of projects are not sustainable. Some popular articles and reports however indicated successes and the positive role that the mentor has fulfilled in the success of the project. This has led to the research study to determine why it seems as if a mentorship program is a key factor in sustainable land reform. Fifteen mentors and 20 protégé's (new farmers) were personally visited and interviewed. The findings show that there are essential qualities and characteristics that a mentor and Protégé should satisfy to ensure a successful mentorship program. The qualities and characteristics linked to a mentor are: a knowledgeable, respectful and trustworthy person, while those of the protégé are: a committed, respectful and hard working person. The establishment of a mentorship relationship is essential for success. Obstacles that could hinder the program are a lack of willingness, no commitment and a negative attitude, while the availability of a viable and sustainable business plan for the farm is non-negotiable. <![CDATA[<b>Socio-economic indicators influencing the adoption of hybrid Sorghum</b>: <b>The Sekhukhune District perspective</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0301-603X2011000100007&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt The study observed the poor use of hybrid sorghum cultivars by subsistence farmers. The project sought to establish which, if any, socio-economic factors influence the adoption of hybrid sorghum cultivars by this sector of the farming community. The focus was on Makhuduthamaga Municipality in Sekhukhune District of Limpopo Province in South Africa, and was confined to the sorghum belt situated around Lepellane catchments in Schoonoord area. The population of the study consisted of farmers that planted sorghum using either hybrid or non-hybrid sorghum cultivars. Non-probability quota sampling method was used with field interviews through structured questionnaire, to collect quantitative sets of data. The study found that there were socio-economic differences between the hybrid user and non-hybrid users. These factors included farmers' gender, level of literacy, access to extension service, membership to agricultural co-operatives, access to credit and inputs, sorghum output, farm income, access to farm land, and cultural influences.