Towards a common understanding of ‘emerging farmer’ in a South African context using data from a survey of three district municipalities in the Eastern Cape Province
The objective of this study was to improve our understanding of the diversity among emerging smallholders using various commonly used indicators. These were reviewed and applied to a sample of 379 emerging smallholders situated in three major smallholding districts within the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. It was found that the typical emerging farmer has the following profile: He is black, situated in a former homeland and is 58 years old. The typical farmer cultivates field crops as a secondary source of food and income, but keeps livestock as primary and secondary sources of income. The average emerging smallholder mostly grows maize for own consumption given a crop commercialisation index (CCI) of 0.66 and sells a greater portion of his cabbage and potatoes given CCIs of 0.73 and 0.83 respectively. The average emerging farmer earns a net income of R26 600 per year, but there is an income inequality, since the most successful farmer earns 26.7 times the average income. This translates to a Ghini coefficient of 0.48, which is high by international standards, but low compared to the South African average of 63.1. When speaking to fellow farmers, it was found that 78% of them feel constrained by farming in a homeland, but only 72% would be willing to move from their homeland, with most (45%) saying that they would only do so if they were provided with sufficient government support.
Keywords: Eastern Cape Province, Emerging farmer, Survey