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Title: Development of an extension framework for smallholder farming in the Western Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa
Authors: Sebopetsa, Mohale Peter 
Keywords: Extension;Linkages;Innovation;Development;Service;Smallholder farmers
Issue Date: Dec-2018

Despite the role of extension being that of improving farming efficiency, public sector extension services is perceived to be ineffective and inadequate in improving sustainable smallholder farming. Several attempts have been made to improve the agricultural extension sector of the South African economy. However, there is still a growing concern for provision of effective and sustainable agricultural extension services to the majority of resource poor farmers who are involved in the bulk of agricultural production. The importance of the agricultural extension system therefore, remains that of a support service to enhance the ability of farming communities to respond to historic challenges and to exploit new opportunities.

The aim of this study was to formulate an extension framework for smallholder farming in the Western Cape Province. The objectives of the study were to determine the effectiveness of government extension services, to assess the factors that could influence the linkages between smallholder farmers and extension services, to examine factors that could be perceived by public extension officers as challenges in smallholder farming, to evaluate the usefulness of new innovations introduced through the extension service department and to develop a framework for extension service delivery in the Western Cape in order to improve the effectiveness of this service.

The study used an explanatory research design which involves both qualitative and quantitative research approaches. The study consisted of a randomly selected sample size of 213 smallholder farmers and the sampling technique was non-probability sampling such as typical case purposive sampling. The study revealed through descriptive analysis that the gender representation in the sample was more skewed towards the female (68.08%) majority. The age difference within the sample was also skewed towards youth and economically active smallholder farmers with the majority of respondents being illiterate and semi-illiterate in their educational profiles. Hence, 83.57% of these farmers benefited from short learning government agricultural training. Furthermore, the study revealed that in a less complex environment, sufficient agricultural advice, expert linkage and usage of video have significant impact on the effectiveness of government extension services with regards to smallholder farmers.

In a more complex situation the evidence suggests that an increase in expert linkages and usage of videos are the most influential factors to drive the effectiveness of government extension services in these types of farmers. In addition, the findings indicate that at lower levels of educational achievement both male and female smallholder farmers view expert linkages as the most effective factor that could improve government extension service followed by the provision of sufficient agricultural advice and usage of video. The rankings amongst both male and female educated smallholder farmers suggest that the usage of video and expert linkage are the most effective instrument that could improve government extension services.

The results further indicate that contacts, capacity building and demonstration have higher impact on the linkages between smallholder farmers and extension officers when network, communication and coordination were held constant. These imply that in an ideal situation, contacts, capacity building and demonstration have a higher degree of impact in determining the incremental and sustainable linkages for these stakeholders. However, poorly educated male smallholder farmers suggest that demonstration was more important in linking them with extension service whilst the female counterparts think that frequency of contacts was the most likely factor that could have linked them to this service. Higher educated smallholder farmers suggested that capacity building and demonstration were the most likely factors that could link them to extension services regardless of their gender differences.

The results for the factors that could determine challenges and perceptions of extension services revealed that lack of financial access could significantly reduce the likelihood of extension services to be perceived positively whilst technology access was viewed to be significant in increasing the likelihood of extension services to be perceived as positive. Furthermore, access to technology is viewed by both male and female smallholder farmers as the key challenge to the image of the public extension officers with the lack of finance being regarded as the most challenge for male who have TVET and degree qualifications. The findings regarding the effectiveness of government extension point out that the extension service in Western Cape Province still require significant and sufficient linkages, advice and usage of videos to be effective. The study revealed that it was almost impossible to develop a one-size fit all approach, but suggested some key elements for such a framework to be able to respond to the needs of smallholder farmers.

Regarding the linkages between farmers and extension services, the study has uncovered that there are varying linkages which point out that high impact linkages could be established through frequency of contacts, capacity building and demonstration. Furthermore, it is also evident that the challenges and the perception in the extension services still exist despite various initiatives and to avert such challenges and perception, financial and technical technology access is suggested to be essential.
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Management Sciences, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2018.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Management Sciences)

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