Resilience of households to agricultural drought in the Northern Cape, South Africa
Matlou, Ringetani Clementine
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The recurring drought is a major challenge to livestock smallholder farmers in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. The objective of the study was to determine household resilience to recurrent agricultural drought among smallholder livestock farmers by identifying strategies that affect these households resilience to agricultural drought, identifying factors that can be adopted by the farming households and other strategies which will assist farmers to absorb adverse welfare effects due to agricultural drought. This study used a mixed approach to collect data (primary and secondary data) with 207 smallholder farmers interviewed. The results show that most farming households in the Frances Baard District Municipality in Northern Cape were not resilient to agricultural drought. Drought resilience can be defined as the capacity of farmers to survive during a drought season or dry season or periods of low rainfall. Out of 207 smallholder farmers interviewed, only a few farming households were resilient to agricultural drought. Moreover, small-holder farmers refers to farmers that own small sizes of land, where they grow subsistence livestock and have limited resource endowment as compared to commercial farmers. A total of 189 farming households were non-resilient and vulnerable to agricultural drought, and only 18 were resilient. The study revealed that gender, educational level, financial support from relatives, being part of a co-operative, institutional support and government assistance are the significant factors that determine the resilience of a farming household to agricultural drought in the Frances Baard District Municipality. The study further shows that factors such as feed cost, other farming operational expenses and labour have a significant impact on the welfare of a farming household, whereas land tenure and agricultural drought resilience index were insignificant. Furthermore, one of the strategies that farming households adopt during dry periods is to sell their livestock to be able to feed the remaining livestock. During the 2015/2016 drought, farmers received coupons from the government to purchase feed. However, this initiative did not help much as most of the farmers had already started selling and losing (by death) their livestock. Based on the findings of this study, resilience of farming households to agricultural drought is a broad issue that needs comprehensive intervention.