Implications of the environmental impact assessment regulations on the agricultural sector in the Overberg District in the Western Cape for emerging farmers
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a tool that can assist with decision making to produce food sustainably and still look at protecting or preserving natural resources. The Overberg District, the chosen study area, is located in the southern parts of the Western Cape Province in South Africa and the area is rich in agricultural activities. The EIA regulations can affect future agricultural activities for both commercial and emerging farmers. For this study, emerging farmers were chosen as many of these farmers are developing or expanding their farming enterprises and the high costs of EIAs can result in financial implications for these farmers. The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of EIA regulations on the emerging farmers in the Overberg region. Furthermore, the study aims to assess the interpretation of extension staff and farmers regarding EIA regulations and its importance for agriculture. In addition, the study seeks to propose methods to improve the knowledge and awareness of EIA regulations amongst farmers and extension staff by creating a better understanding regarding the EIA process. To successfully meet the objectives of this study, structured questionnaires were administered to 30 farmers and 29 extension officers. The study found that EIA regulations do impact farming operations and that many farmers also lack knowledge regarding EIA regulations.
Keywords: Emerging farmer, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations, Extension officer