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Agri 2024

Felicity Aphiwe Mkhongi

Felicity Aphiwe Mkhongi, Speaker at Agriculture Conferences
University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Title : More land, less cultivation: A current challenge or future trend for smallholder farmers in South Africa?


Deagrarianization among smallholder farmers introduces changes that increase constraints of achieving household food security and sustainable livelihoods in rural areas. This study investigated cultivation trends of smallholder farmers in two villages, one located in Ambros, Eastern Cape province and another in Maramanzhi, Limpopo province, South Africa. Drawing on both qualitative and quantitative methods, data was collected through semi-structured questionnaires, transect walks and key informant interviews. Quantitative data analysis was completed through use of IBM SPSS Statistics 28.0, while qualitative data applied NVivo software. A major finding is that cultivation among smallholder farmers has not been abandoned. Instead, a smaller proportion of household income is derived from agriculture and reductions in the extent and number of cultivated fields were prominent, mainly in Ambros compared to Maramanzhi. These changes are often interpreted as evidence that smallholder farmers have become disinclined towards farming in favour of non-farming activities. However, the reality is that many of these changes rest upon a complex combination of socio-economic and ecological drivers, which manifest heterogeneously to affect smallholder farming, leading to changes in engagements with farming. Most smallholder farmers were adamant that cultivation can still prosper in both villages, but the enthusiasm to be committed to crop farming mainly depends on assistance with agricultural inputs in Ambros, and government support which extends beyond funding in Maramanzhi.  As part of the solution for addressing the dynamic implications of deagrarianization, smallholder farmers need to be actively involved in agricultural policy development and programs, as this has the potential to enhance interventions aimed at increasing agricultural production.


Felicity Aphiwe Mkhongi,

University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

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