Mapping the contours of organic agriculture : an exploratory study of an under-served population in South Africa

Du Plessis, Hendrik Pienaar (2019-04)

Thesis (MScConsEcol)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to determine the challenges that organic producers face in South Africa and to determine how universities and other knowledge institutions might better support these producers. As a result, the objectives of this study is to answer four questions: how producers are divided in terms of biographical, geographical and production aspects, what the main sources of support and information are for producers, how universities and other knowledge institutions can best support organic agriculture in South Africa, and what the most significant challenges are that producers face. Reliable data on the certified organic sector in South Africa remains lacking. In order to better understand the needs of this population, both quantitative and qualitative data was gathered. Because no other record keeping for organic producers in the country could be found in 2017, the contact details of 193 clients were obtained from third party certifiers. In-depth interviews were conducted with 27 participants from this population. Biographical data on participants as well as details about the farming operation were gathered using quantitative, structured questions. Qualitative data on the kind and quality of information and support services that participants have access to, the challenges that they face on-farm and in general, and the way that they overcame and adapted to these challenges were gathered using semi-structured questions. Quantitative data, such as age, ethnicity, gender, level of education and production data were used to describe the characteristics of participants. Likert-scale questions on possible sources of information were statistically analysed. Qualitative data were coded using Atlas.ti and analysed using aspects of contents analysis and grounded theory. Participants were found to be mostly male, white, well-educated and the majority were between 30 and 49 years of age. Participants were mostly producing fruit (and mainly citrus for this category), as well as grapes (mainly wine-grapes), essential oils and pecans. In terms of potential avenues of support, government and extension services were rated lowest by participants in terms of frequency of access and usefulness of such services. Internet articles and journals, certifying companies, and other organic farmers were rated highest in terms of support offered. A lack of locally adapted research, applicable to South African organic farming systems was identified as a major constraint in participants’ ability to make properly informed management decisions. Pest and disease management, a lack of informational resources and securing inputs were mentioned as main challenges during conversion. A small local market, along with a consumer base that is uninformed about the nature and benefits of organic products, were highlighted as off-farm constraints to success. Understanding of the different paradigm that informs organic farming systems was listed as the most important factor to ensure success as an organic farmer. This paradigm involves focusing on building agro-ecosystem health to support the crop, understanding and adapting management to the unique character of the local agro-ecosystem, knowing when not to intervene in the agro-ecosystem, and ensuring profitability by minimising input costs. The development of informational resources on organic management for the South African context and the support of knowledge exchange were determined to be the most important recommended interventions to support the organic agriculture sector. These involve further research on the fundamentals of organic management strategies for the local context, the creation of a knowledge hub that collects and synthesizes available research and the facilitation and expansion of current knowledge exchange networks.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die hoof doelwit van hierdie studie was om te bepaal watter uitdagings organiese produsente in Suid-Afrika ervaar, en hoe universiteite en ander navorsingsinstansies sulke produsente beter kan ondersteun. Gevolglik beoog hierdie studie om die volgende vrae te beantwoord: hoe produsente verdeel is in terme van biografiese, geografiese en produksie aspekte, wat die hoof bronne van inligting en ondersteuning is vir produsente , hoe universiteite en ander navorsingsinstansies organiese landbou in Suid-Afrika kan ondersteun, asook wat die grootste uitdagings is wat produsente ervaar. Betroubare data oor die gesertifiseerde organiese sektor in Suid-Afrika skiet vêr te kort. Om die behoeftes van hierdie groepering beter te verstaan, was beide kwalitatiewe en kwantitatiewe data ingesamel. Omdat geen rekord van gesertifiseerde organiese produsente in 2017 gevind kon word nie, was die besonderhede van 193 kliënte verkry van derde-party sertifiseerders. In diepte onderhoude was met 27 respondente gevoer wat vanuit hierdie proefsteek geneem was. Biografiese data, sowel as data oor produksie was ingesamel via kwantitatiewe, gestruktureerde vrae. Kwalitatiewe data oor die tipe en kwaliteit van inligting- en ondersteuningsdienste wat respondente van gebruik gemaak het, die uitdagings wat respondente ervaar, sowel as hoe hulle hierdie uitdagings aangespreek het, was ingesamel via semi-gestruktureerede vrae. Kwantitatiewe data, soos ouderdom, etnisiteit, geslag, vlak van opvoeding en produksie data was gebruik om respondente te beskryf. Likert-skaal vrae oor moontlike bronne van inligting was statisties geanaliseer. Kwalitatiewe data was gekodeer met behulp van die sagtewarepakket Atlas.ti en was geanaliseer deur aspekte van inhoud analise (“content analysis”) en gefundeerde teorie (“grounded theory”). Respondente was oor die algemeen manlik, wit, het ‘n hoë vlak van opvoeding en die meerderheid was tussen 30 en 49 jaar oud. Die meerderheid van respondente het vrugte geproduseer (sitrus vrugte het die meerderheid van hierdie kategorie behels), sowel as druiwe (meestal wyndruiwe), vlugtige olies en pekanneute. In terme van bronne van inligting en ondersteuning, het die regering en landbou voorlegging die laagste rankorde behaal, beide in terme van hoe gereeld dit gebruik was en hoe bruikbaar die inligting was. Internet bronne en aanlyn wetenskaplike joernale, die sertifiserende maatskappy, sowel as ander organiese boere het die hoogste rangorde behaal. ‘n Tekort aan plaaslik-toepaslike navorsing, spesifiek binne die konteks van Suid-Afrikaanse organiese sisteme, was geïdentifiseer as ‘n noemenswaardige struikelblok vir respondente om ingeligte boerdery besluite te maak. Pes- en siektebeheer, genoegsame inligtingsbronne, en die opsporing van nuwe, organiese insette was genoem as die hoof uitdagings tydens die oorgangstydperk van konvensionele na organiese boerdery. ‘n Plaaslike mark wat nog klein is, sowel as oningeligte verbruikers wat nie genoegsaam bewus is van die aard en voordele van organiese produksie, was genoem as die hoof eksterne uitdagings vir die organiese sektor. Om die nuwe paradigma van organiese boerdery te verstaan was genoem as die hoof aspek om sukses as ‘n organiese boer te verseker. Hierdie paradigma verskuif die fokus na die ekosisteem, wat opgebou word om die gewas te ondersteun. Die verstaan van en aanpassing by die unieke karakter van die plaaslike ekosisteem is dus belangrik. Hierdie paradigma behels ook die vermindering van inset kostes, om sodoende winsgewend te bly. Die ontwikkeling van inligtingsbronne oor die bestuur van organiese produksie wat spesifiek aangepas is vir die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks, sowel as beter ondersteuning van reeds-bestaande geleenthede vir kennis deel, was bepaal as die belangrikste twee faktore vir die sukses van die organiese sektor. Dit behels, onder andere, basiese navorsing oor bestuurspraktyke wat aangepas is vir die plaaslike konteks, die skepping van ‘n databasis wat bestaande navorsing oor organiese praktyke versamel, en die uitbreiding en ondersteuning van bestaande kennis netwerke.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106046
This item appears in the following collections: