Accessing South African food system value-chains: constraints faced by smallholder farmers and conservation agriculture

Von Loeper, Wolfgang Johann (2016-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : The potential of scaling productive practices on sustainable farming systems, such as conservation agriculture (CA) and smallholder farmers (SHFs), for food security in South Africa remains under-investigated. Support for a greener, lower carbon economy that creates jobs and improves human well-being as part of inclusive sustainable development could be driven, in part, by two separate long term sustainable principles, conservation agriculture and smallholder farmers. We chose these two, because CA targets ecological sustainability, while SHF targets socio-economic sustainability. To scale the use of CA and the numbers of socio-economically included SHF, an understanding of the current agricultural value chains, their functioning and constraints, is essential. A number of key questions arise. What are the main shortfalls in agricultural value chains and why is conservation agriculture and smallholder farmers faced with challenges to feed into these existing structures? What blockages do value chain participants themselves identify and how do these exacerbate through feedback loops a further entrenching of such blockages? From understanding the value chains, what focus in policy can we derive for a more inclusive sustainable farming system for a better food security? Backed by a literature review and an ethnographic qualitative participant research, using semi-structured interviews of senior management of selected large value chain participants, we used grounded theory to quantify data to separately research constraints facing CA and SHF. The research shows that a more functional system would include reduced risk (lower exposure, less crop failure) and proper field extension, access to markets, leadership through cooperatives, ‘easier‘ FICA (Financial Intelligence Centre Act), a more lenient financial services board, availability of start-up capital, and government agencies engaging with retailers and commercial farmers in smallholder farmer projects. In addition, the findings show that the interviewed value chain participants are limited by acting within economic prerogatives and struggle to engage with SHF. They seem unlikely to be part of a driving force in favour of CA in future. On the other hand, there was an inherent willingness to engage with SHFs if the risk of engagement was mitigated for financial services and reliability of production quantity and quality was assured for the market side. From the evidence gained we foresee that a transition to CA will not be driven by the majority of value chain participants, whose business models are unlikely to change in their favour. We subsequently recommend that CA practices be driven through farmers’ education, such as agricultural training centres, colleagues, schools and universities as well as field extension.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Die potensiaal van opskalering van volhoubare boerderytegnieke (soos bewaringslandbou en kleinskaalboerdery) om voedselsekuriteit in Suid-Afrika te verseker, word tans nog nie behoorlik nagevors nie. Deur bewaringslandbou en kleinskaalboere te ondersteun, word ’n groener, laer koolstof ekonomie gevestig wat werk skep, mense se voorspoed verseker en volhoubare ontwikkeling bevorder. Ons het hierdie twee (bewaringslandbou en kleinskaalboerdery) vir navorsing uitgesonder, want eersgenoemde teiken ekologiese volhoubaarheid en laasgenoemde het sosio-ekonomiese volhoubaarheid ten doel. Om sodanige stelsels grootskaals in te stel verg grondige kennis van bestaande landbou-waardekettings; hoe hul funksioneer en watter beperkings ter sprake is. Talle sleutelvrae duik op: Wat is die belangrikste tekortkominge eie aan landbou-waardekettings en waarom ervaar bewaringslandbouers en kleinskaalboere soveel uitdagings wat toegang tot bestaande strukture bemoeilik? Watter hindernisse (wat toestande tans vererger) ervaar en identifiseer gebruikers van hierdie waardekettings? Hoe beinvloed terugvoering aan kringnetwerke binne bestaande waardekettings dit dat sodanige hindernisse vererger en selfs verdiep? Hoe kan beter begrip van die waardekettings help om die fokus op ’n meer inklusief volhoubare boerderystelsel te verbeter en sodoende groter voedselsekuriteit verseker? Gerugsteun deur sowel ’n literatuurstudie as kwalitatiewe, deelnemende etnografiese navorsing –waartydens semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude met senior bestuurslede van geselekteerde groot, deelnemende waardekettings gevoer is – is bewese teoretiese beginsels aangewend om kwalitatiewe data te ontleed en afsonderlik navorsing te doen van beperkings op sowel bewaringslandbou as kleinskaalboerdery. Die navorsing dui daarop dat ’n meer funksionele sisteem tot verminderde risiko (minder blootstelling; minder misoeste) asook tot behoorlike uitbreiding van landbouvoorligting sal lei. Ook kan verwag word: Beter toegang tot markte; verbeterde leierskap deur middel van koöperasies; ’n ‘makliker’ FICA-proses; ’n meer toeganklike finansiele diensteraad; geredeliker beskikbaarheid van vestigingskapitaal; en regeringsagentskappe wat met kleinhandelaars en kommersiele boere onderhandel om betrokkenheid by kleinskaalboerdery-projekte te bevorder. Uit onderhoude met lede van die waardekettings gevoer, blyk dit dat hul beperk word deur grense van bestaande ekonomiese keuses en derhalwe sukkel om met kleinskaalboere te skakel. Dit lyk daarom onwaarskynlik dat diesulkes in die toekoms ’n ondersteunende krag ten gunste van bewaringslandbou sal wees. Nogtans is daar inherente gewilligheid om met die kleinskaalboerdery-sektor saam te werk, maar dan moet die risiko beperk word tot finansiele dienste en berus op betroubare produksiegetalle en kwaliteitsvlakke wat lewering aan markte verseker. Uit ontleding van beskikbare inligting, voorsien ons dat ’n oorgang tot bewaringslandbou nie gedryf sal word deur die meerderheid van waardekettingdeelnemers nie – hul besigheidsmodel sal nie geredelik ten gunste van bewaringslandbou aangepas word nie. Gevolglik beveel ons aan dat bewaringslandbou-praktyke deur volgehoue opleiding van boere bevorder sal word: Veral deur landbou-opleidingsentra, -skole, -kolleges en universiteite, sowel as deur voortgesette praktiese indiens-opleiding binne die landbousektor.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100292
This item appears in the following collections: