An evaluation of the performance of the Department of Agriculture in Limpopo Province in improving the livelihood of smallholder farmers during the period 1994-2004, with special reference to the Vhembe District

Sitholimela, Silas Ndwakhulu (2007-03)

Thesis (MPA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research work focuses on the role that the Department of Agriculture has played in the improvement of the livelihood of smallholder farmers in the Vhembe District, Limpopo Province, for the period 1994 to 2004. The research endeavours to determine what was done to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers, and the extent to which smallholder farmers were developed. It determines the stage of development smallholder farmers are in after a decade of democracy. The study considers various variables that could be responsible for the good or bad performance of the Department of Agriculture in the Vhembe District. The Vhembe District was chosen because it consists of varied ecological and climatic regions, making it possible for various farming enterprises to flourish in one area. The research links the role played by the Department of Agriculture with the level of development of smallholder farmers in the District. It investigates the support that the Department of Agriculture provided through various strategic programmes, such as the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme, the Revitalisation of Smallholder Irrigation Schemes, training and development, and poverty-alleviation programmes, aimed at kick-starting micro-enterprises. The research identifies areas where the Department did not meet the expectations of the smallholder farmers regarding support. It outlines possible reasons for good and poor performance of the Department of Agriculture and its extension officers in the four local municipalities of the Vhembe District, namely Makhado, Musina, Mutale and Thulamela. This is based on data gathered through focus group discussions with various groups of farmers and extension officers. The research reveals that the budget allocation for agricultural development has never been enough to address the pressing and varied needs of smallholder farmers in the Vhembe District. The conclusion is reached that the support provided by the Department of Agriculture to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers was inadequate. Another conclusion is that smallholder farmers are heavily reliant on the Department for almost all their farming needs. This dependency has led to many smallholder farmers not being able to creatively initiate any action that would ultimately empower them to become selfreliant. However, the research shows that a small percentage of farmers have realised the need to become independent in order to avoid lifelong dependency on the Department of Agriculture. The researcher concludes that, after a decade of democracy, there is still a great need for the Department’s support in order to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers. There is also a need to conduct a skills audit, which will help the Department to place officials according to their areas of expertise, and to capacitate officials who may be lacking some skills through various capacity-building programmes. The research revealed that there may be officials who are morally corrupt in their behaviour and conduct. This has resulted in inefficiency and poor service delivery to farmers. On the other hand there are officials who perform exceptionally well and whose behaviour is beyond reproach. The researcher concludes that these exceptional performers should be recognised and rewarded for their good performance, while those with unsatisfactory performance should be dealt with according to the disciplinary code and procedures of the public service. The need is identified to channel resources to smallholder farmers who will utilise them effectively. This would promote self-sufficiency in the long term. In channelling these resources, the Department should also consider the promises made, with the view to fulfil them as far as possible. The researcher concludes that in order for smallholder farmers to realise their potential they have to change their lives through agriculture. They need to become more organised in order to speak with one voice. They also need to participate in secondary agriculture, where they are able to access more markets, not only as producers but as agro-processors as well. With appropriate and consistent support by the Department of Agriculture in the Vhembe District, smallholder farmers’ livelihood could be improved, which will lead to economic development of the local municipality, the district, the province and ultimately South Africa as a whole.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie navorsingstudie fokus op die rol wat die Departement Landbou gespeel het in die verbetering van die lewensbestaan van kleinboere in die Vhembe-distrik, Limpopo, vir die tydperk 1994 tot 2004. Die navorsing poog om te bepaal wat gedoen is om die lewensbestaan van kleinboere te verbeter, en in watter mate daar tot die ontwikkeling van kleinboere bygedra is. Daar word ook bepaal in watter ontwikkelingsfase kleinboere hulle ná ’n dekade van demokrasie bevind. Die studie ondersoek verskeie veranderlikes wat vir die goeie of swak prestasie van die Departement Landbou in die Vhembe-distrik verantwoordelik kan wees. Die Vhembe-distrik is gekies omdat dit uit verskillende ekologiese en klimaatstreke bestaan, wat verskeie boerdery-ondernemings in staat stel om in een gebied te gedy. Die navorsing veronderstel ’n verband tussen die rol van die Departement Landbou en die ontwikkelingsvlak van kleinboere in die distrik. Dit ondersoek die steun wat die Departement Landbou deur middel van verskeie strategiese programme gebied het, soos die Program vir Omvattende Landbou-ondersteuning, die Opknapping van Kleinboerbesproeiingskemas, opleiding en ontwikkeling, en programme vir die verligting van armoede, wat daarop gemik is om stukrag aan mikro-ondernemings te verleen. Die navorsing identifiseer gebiede waarop die Departement Landbou nie aan kleinboere se verwagtinge ten opsigte van steun voldoen het nie. Dit verskaf moontlike redes vir die goeie of swak prestasie van die Departement en sy voorligtingsbeamptes in die Vhembedistrik se vier plaaslike munisipaliteite, naamlik Makhado, Musina, Mutale en Thulamela. Dit is gegrond op data wat deur middel van fokusgroep-besprekings met verskeie groepe boere en voorligtingsbeamptes verkry is. Die navorsing toon dat die begrotingstoewysing vir landbou-ontwikkeling nog nooit genoeg was om aan die dringende en verskillende behoeftes van kleinboere in die Vhembe-distrik te voldoen nie. Die navorser maak die gevolgtrekking dat die steun van die Departement Landbou nie voldoende was om die lewensbestaan van kleinboere te verbeter nie. ’n Verdere gevolgtrekking is dat kleinboere vir byna al hulle boerderybehoeftes van die departement afhanklik is. Hierdie afhanklikheid lei daartoe dat menige kleinboere nie in staat is om enige kreatiewe optrede te inisieer wat hulle eindelik sal bemagtig om selfstandig te word nie. Die navorsing toon egter dat ’n klein persentasie boere besef het dat hulle onafhanklik moet word om lewenslange afhanklikheid van die Departement Landbou te vermy. Die navorser kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat, ná ’n dekade van demokrasie, daar steeds ’n groot behoefte aan steun van die departement ten opsigte van die verbetering van kleinboere se lewensbestaan is. Daar is ook ’n behoefte aan ’n vaardighede-oudit wat die departement sal help om amptenare na gelang van hulle kundigheidsgebied te plaas, en om deur verskeie kapasiteitsbou-programme daardie amptenare wat sekere vaardighede kortkom, op te bou. Die navorsing het onthul dat daar moontlik amptenare is wat moreel korrup in gedrag en optrede is. Dit het ondoeltreffendheid en swak dienslewering aan boere tot gevolg. Tog is daar amptenare wat besonder goed presteer en wie se gedrag bo verdenking is. Die navorser is van mening dat hierdie goeie presteerders erkenning moet ontvang en vir hulle goeie prestasie beloon moet word, en dat diegene wat ontoereikend presteer ingevolge die staatsdiens se dissiplinêre kode en prosedures hanteer moet word. Daar is ’n behoefte om hulpbronne te kanaliseer na kleinboere wat doeltreffend daarvan gebruik sal maak. Dit sal op die lang termyn selfvoorsiening bevorder. In hierdie opsig moet die departement poog om die beloftes wat hulle gemaak het, so ver moontlik na te kom. Die navorser kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat, vir kleinboere om hulle potensiaal te verwesenlik, hulle hul lewens deur landbou moet verander. Hulle moet beter georganiseer wees sodat hulle uit een mond kan praat. Hulle moet ook by sekondêre landbou betrokke raak waar hulle toegang tot Met die gepaste en konsekwente steun van die Departement Landbou in die Vhembedistrik kan die lewensbestaan van kleinboere verbeter word, wat ekonomiese ontwikkeling van die plaaslike munisipaliteit, die distrik, die provinsie en eindelik Suid- Afrika as geheel tot gevolg sal hê.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/21791
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