Qualitative evaluation of smallholder farmer decisions, support systems, knowledge and disease management tools

  • Thato Molefe
  • Joyce Thamaga-Chitja
  • Kwasi S Yobo
Keywords: Organic farming, small-scale farming, Decision Support Tool (DST), disease management.


Rural South African smallholder farmers are deprived of knowledge, relying on eroded indigenous  knowledge to support crop production. Modern technology can play a role in supporting production  decisions and packaging knowledge so it is easily accessible to all levels of users. Information  Communication Technologies, such as Decision Support Tools (DST) play an important role in systematic dissemination of information in agriculture, thus improving the quality of farmer  decisions, especially in  rural areas. These tools are constantly developed, improved and evaluated to assess their applicability  and efficacy. The article is based on the study that aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of a recently developed DST, with a disease management component, to enhance production decisions and  crop-disease management, among organic and small-scale farmers. Due to resource-limitations of most smallholder farmers in South Africa, production  practices, including disease control could be much improved, using indigenous-based, local knowledge about cultural methods of controlling crop diseases. A group of 15 extension officers and 12 researchers were purposively selected for the study because they play a major role in organising and disseminating information to the farmers. Participatory workshop sessions were conducted with groups, where tools were presented, explored and critiqued. The DST was found to have the potential to benefit both organic and smallholder farmers, the study recommends that government should support the development of agricultural DSTs, building on and improving eroded indigenous knowledge, to help farmers improve production and address problems with extension officers and within their resource means.

Keywords: Organic farming, small-scale farming, Decision Support Tool (DST), disease management.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1683-0296