Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Agricultural Extension ]]> vol. 42 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>An enquiry into the prospects of mobile telephone for agricultural information delivery in Ondo State, Nigeria</b>]]> Extension is essentially a communication process whereby various participants are linked together and exchange information to enhance their potential and standard of living. It makes use of different channels through which this information could be passed across of which mobile phones constitute one of the contemporary channels. This study was carried out to investigate the prospects of mobile telephone in dissemination of agricultural information in Ondo state, Nigeria. A multistage sampling technique was used for the study, both descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse results. The study revealed that the majority (85%) of the respondents in the study area was male. Those with primary education and above were 60.2%. Majority accessed information through friends (79.6%) and radio (75.2%). Mobile phones were used by 81.4% of which Nokia was the most common brand of handsets (57.3%). The various functions on respondents' phones include browsing facilities (31.9%), camera (37.2%), video player and recording (31.9%), blue tooth (30.1%) and radio (45.1%). Their ability to operate these functions was low; about 90% cannot use MP3 on their phone. Majority (71.7%) were ready to purchase phones with multimedia facilities and to receive extension messages through phones (93.8%). There was a significant but negative correlation relationship between age of respondents and their operational proficiency of mobile phones (r= -0.50), but positive relationship exists between education of respondents and operational proficiency of mobile phone (r= 0.60).Government should go into partnership with communication outfits to provide cheaper phones at subsidized rate as well as develop agricultural information packages to be used on mobile phones. <![CDATA[<b>Reflections on agricultural extension and extension policy in Africa</b>]]> This paper highlights the underperformance of African agriculture and examines some of the underlying causes with a view to identify opportunities for improvement with special emphasis on agricultural extension policy. A brief review of literature reveals a disturbing gap between concepts and practice. Many extension concepts have been developed and brought into the field in rapid succession with little or no impact at farmer level. The paper argues against endless debates of no practical value that take the energies away from seeking practical solutions to low agricultural development. The paper recommends that extension practitioners, through their professional organizations like the South African Society for Agricultural Extension and the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services, provide leadership in facilitating extension policy dialogue. <![CDATA[<b>Small and medium-scale producers' use and credibility of information sources: Implications for public extension's financial sustainability</b>]]> Farm management information is vital for farm decision making. Identifying the dominant source of such information used by producers, its credibility and users' acceptance to contribute towards the operational costs of the delivery of services is important, considering the persistent financial problems facing public extension organizations world-wide, including South Africa. Governments have, therefore, embarked on many funding arrangements to ensure financial sustainability of public extension organizations. This paper assesses the extent of farmers' use of the public extension service relative to other sources of farm management information and its perceived credibility on users' acceptance to pay for the delivery of public extension visits. The findings presented here are based on a non-probability survey of medium-scale commercial crop farmers conducted between 1 September and 7 October 2010 in three districts of the Free State Province, South Africa. The findings show that public extension was the dominant information source for most production activities for most farmers. In contrast, most farmers depended more on their own experience/records for information on marketing, financial and environmental decisions. This notwithstanding, most producers were willing to contribute financially towards the delivery of public extension visits; such contributions have implications for its financial sustainability. <![CDATA[<b>User contributions and public extension delivery modes: Implications for financial sustainability of extension in South Africa</b>]]> Extension channels form the bridge that extension agents use to communicate messages to recipients. The high recurrent costs faced by the public extension service constraint the number of visits farmers receive. This study examined a number of extension communication channels through which farmers received farm management services/information from the public extension agent. The idea was, first, to find out the dominant channel(s) through which information/services were received and, second, to assess the willingness of users to contribute financially to support the public extension services in providing more visits through that dominant channel to the clients who opt to pay. The study was conducted in three districts of the Free State Province, South Africa, between 1 September, 2010 and February 2011. Convenience and purposive sampling techniques were used to survey medium-scale commercial crop farmers (97) using semi-structured, self-administered questionnaires. The results show extension visits as the dominant channel through which respondents received information from the public extension agent for all the management practices investigated in this study. In addition, most respondents were willing to contribute financially to receive more visits from the public extension agent. It could be concluded that producers' payment for more public extension visits could contribute towards financial sustainability of the public extension service. <![CDATA[<b>Critical factors influencing performance of Extensionists in Limpopo Department of Agriculture in South Africa</b>]]> This article draws its data from a study which was conducted in six districts of Limpopo Department of Agriculture. The study targeted the Extensionists and their immediate supervisors. Out of 800 Extensionists 324 participated in the survey. A questionnaire was developed using the Delphi technique as part of the methodology. Different factors that have bearing in extension performance were identiged and tested to check the extent in which they influence performance. Responses from the Extensionists revealed that they are performing below the expected level. Part of the challenge points towards the quality of training and the lack of adequate resources to support the Extensionists. The article concludes with some recommendations to resolve the challenges. <![CDATA[<b>Mentorship by commercial farmers in the land reform programme in the Free State Province</b>]]> This study evaluates commercial farmers' views of their role as mentors in the land reform programme in two regions of the Free State Province. It reveals that the majority of commercial farmers in the study area are willing to act as mentors. The farmers overwhelmingly agreed that their role as mentors is very important. On average, the farmers were willing to participate in the mentorship programme and most of them expect to receive remuneration for their work as mentors. A little over two thirds of the farmers believe that the extension services play a vital role in the development of emerging farmers, while others indicated that they were not satisfied with the current advisory service. The study recommends that before any agreement is entered into with any mentor a guide should be developed to ensure that priority areas are taken care of in order to avoid conflict at a later stage. <![CDATA[<b>Integrating accountability and transparency into the project cycle towards good governance - the role of the Extension Worker</b>]]> The overall objective of this paper is to explore the role of Extension Workers in promoting food security within a good governance agenda. This paper views good food security governance as one of the benchmarks for government performance beyond 2015 and is used as a base for examining accountability and transparency measures amongst Extension Workers in the implementation of food security strategies. The authors present a theoretical framework for the interrogation of the role of Extension Workers in the maintenance of accountability and transparency in food security initiatives within South Africa, and conclude that accountability and performance ought to be incorporated into all phases of the project process. Further, the paper concludes that by so doing, Extension Workers will be able to contribute to the achievement of good food security governance. <![CDATA[<b>Exploring the role of sugarcane in small-scale farmers' livelihoods in the Noodsberg area, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa</b>]]> Participatory, mixed-methods research was conducted to study the role of sugarcane in small-scale sugarcane farmers' livelihoods in the Noodsberg area, KwaZulu-Natal. Thirty-five farmers were visited at their homes and data was collected through semi-structured interviews, participatory sketch mapping, matrix scoring activities and informal field-based discussions. Results indicated that sugarcane was a key livelihood resource providing employment and income, and it generated more income than any other single agricultural enterprise. It was considered the most important crop in most households, even though it was grown within a diverse agricultural system including maize, beans, taro (amadumbe) and potatoes. Considering the important role of sugarcane as a cash crop in farmers' livelihoods, further development of land to sugarcane in the Noodsberg area will continue to reduce poverty and improve the livelihoods of farmers. <![CDATA[<b>The use of mobile technologies amongst South African commercial farmers</b>]]> Organisations offering extension services provide services to farmers which include the provision of relevant and current information pertaining to agriculture. The increased use of mobile technologies is changing the way farmers access information, specifically by using the Internet. This paper focuses on South African (SA) commercial farmers who currently use the Internet to establish their Internet access profile, the devices they utilise for Internet access and the purpose for which they use mobile technologies. An Internet and Mobile Device Usage Survey was conducted in the SA agricultural community. Farmers were found to have embraced mobile technology and in excess of 70% of the farmers who participated in the study indicated that they use their mobile devices to access the Internet. No brand of mobile phone or tablet computer was found to dominate the agricultural community. Importantly, close to 50% of respondents indicated that they owned and used a tablet. The primary reason for which mobile devices are used by farmers is for business purposes, including access to information about agriculture. Agricultural organisations offering extension services could benefit from embracing the technology and exploring new ways to provide information services to their farmer base.