The sustainability of new generation future commercial farmers in South Africa, a case study done in the North-West Province of South Africa

Thumbnail Image
Venter, Phillip
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of the Free State
Emerging farmers in South Africa face numerous challenges that hinder their ability to engage in environmentally-, economically-, and socially sustainable agricultural practices. While certain practices have been proven to lead to greater sustainability in farming, there is a shortage of literature on the extent to which emerging farmers in South Africa implement these practices. The study aimed to explore further the problems emerging farmers face in South Africa hampering their sustainability and to determine the extent to which they engage in mitigating practices. Furthermore, the study aimed to give actionable recommendations to emerging farmers on how they can increase their sustainability by obtaining inputs from industry experts and commercial farmers on how emerging farmers can become sustainable commercial farmers. In this study, the emerging farmers that progressed to become sustainable commercial farmers are referred to as New Generation Future Commercial Farmers (NGFCFs). The study used a mixed-methods research approach, that included qualitative and quantitative research techniques. The quantitative component included, closed-ended questionnaires to determine factors that influence the sustainability of emerging farmers. These questionnaires were distributed to a group of New Generation Future Commercial Farmers and commercial farmers growing dry beans for the Zamukele and Schoeman Boerdery projects in the North-West Province of South Africa. The questionnaires comprised four sections measuring demographic and background information, economic-, environmental-, and social sustainability. Participants were asked to reply to the statements on a Likert scale of 1 to 5, where 1 meant strongly disagreed and 5 meant strongly agreed. An adapted Logical Framework Analysis (LFA) tool was used for the qualitative component to collect qualitative data from industry experts to determine what they believe is needed to improve emerging farmers’ economic-, environmental-, and social sustainability. The study concluded that NGFCFs would be profitable, environmentally sound, and socially sustainable by applying sustainable agricultural principles. However, there are important sustainability issues NGFCFs need to address to improve their sustainability. The iii recommendations to improve their sustainability includes making use of contract farming options like off-take agreements, taking part in private and public partnerships, addressing the lack of not owning essential machinery and contractors not harvesting at the ideal time, taking out crop insurance, being proactive in their crop protection approach, addressing operational cost financing, making use of qualified people to advise on sustainable agricultural practices, discarding of empty crop protection containers correctly, following the instructions on crop protection containers, making use of conservation agriculture and precision agricultural techniques, having a succession plan in place, supporting other local businesses in their local community, improving their knowledge base on financial and business management, improving their knowledge of conservation tillage practices and soil fertility management, and attending farmers days and experimental plots on sustainable agricultural practices and technology. A Model (NGFCFs Model) was developed to guide all role players on how to help emerging farmers progress to become sustainable commercial farmers, including the role agribusiness partners and government plays in this process. The NGFCFs Model will focus on emerging farmers (producers) growing row crops (produce) under an off-take agreement (agribusiness partner) and will also consider the government (policy maker and service provider). The NGFCFs Model is driven by the off-taker, providing an off-take agreement to a group of already successful emerging farmers growing row crops under the off-take agreement. The NGFCFs Model will help create sustainable NGFCFs, which is essential to achieve sustainable food production, according to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in August 2015 (United Nations, 2015). Sustainable food production by NGFCFs will be critical in supporting the needs of the present and future generations. Sustainable NGFCFs will also help the government achieve its National Development Plan for agriculture by playing an important role in rural economic development and natural resource management and contributing significantly to household food security and improved nutrition (National Planning Commission of South Africa (NDP), 2012).
Emerging farmers, New Generation Future Commercial Farmers (NGFCFs), Economic sustainability, Environmental sustainability, Social sustainability, Rural development, Extension officers, Sustainable development, Thesis (Ph.D. (Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development))--University of the Free State, 2022