Small-scale farming and extension in South Africa's Northern Province

  • B. Hedden-Dunkhorst
  • N.M. Mollel


Small-scale agriculture in South Africa's Northern Province varies significantly. Farmers have different objectives, they face different environments, and are involved in various farm enterprises. This situation issues challenges to institutions which offer support services to smallholders, particularly the extension service. The paper provides an entry point to discuss extension for small scale farmers in the Northern Province by (1) offering a descriptive analysis of small scale farming system and (2) by trying to quantify the impact of support services on farmer's performance using statistical analyses. The results show that credit and grants seem to contribute to agricultural performance in some areas, while no significant coefficients could be estimated for extension. The latter finding corresponds with a more qualitative assessment of government extension by other authors. However, in the Northern Province new approaches to smallholder extension are currently developed, tested and implemented. With their focus on improving the relevance of extension advice through farmer's participation and staff training, these approaches could contribute to a significant improvement of the impact of extension. Yet, the introduction of an appropriate monitoring and evaluation component to assure impact assessment and the necessary adaptation of the new system is strongly recommended.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2413-3221
print ISSN: 0301-603X