South African Journal of Agricultural Extension
On-line version ISSN 2413-3221
JORDAAN, J. W. and GROBLER, H. J. F.. Farmer support and extension to land reform farms in the Central Karoo - part 1: a baseline survey of farm potential, farmer profiles and farm management knowledge and practices. S Afr. Jnl. Agric. Ext. [online]. 2011, vol.39, n.1, pp. 35-44. ISSN 2413-3221.
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.
Keywords : baseline survey; land reform; farm management; extension.