«JM Thamaga-Chitja March 2008 Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for degree: Doctor of Philosophy (Food Security), African Centre for Food ...»
The second qualitative tool used in this research was the Force Field Analysis (FFA).
The FFA is a management and analysis tool that uses a creative process for forcing agreement about facets of any desired change (Lewin, 2005). Issues identified during focus group sessions were brainstormed into two categories as the driving and restraining forces pertaining to organic farming. The process of how the study developed emanating from the FFA exercise is illustrated in figure 4.2.
Figure 4.2 The process followed in the development of the decision support tool Driving forces included elements such as actions, skills, equipment, procedures and culture that facilitate movement towards the goal, whereas restraining forces inhibit achievement of the desired goals.
In this case, the aim was to identify forces for and against certified organic farming. An example of a FFA is presented in Figure 4.3.
Once the farmers had listed the positive and negative forces for organic farming, these were ranked from strongest to weakest in terms of supporting organic farming. The strongest negative force was placed first in the negative force box. The strongest positive force was placed first in the positive box.
Figure 4.3: Outline of a force field analysis Both methodologies (focus groups and FFA) were participatory, enabling farmers to engage actively in clarifying problems and finding solutions to problems relating to organic crop production.
These methodologies assisted to prioritise key problems and develop and prioritise possible solutions within their means.
The FFA identified critical constraints in organic production, after which farmers requested that action be taken to resolve the constraints so that they could be more productive. They expressed strongly that they often are faced with decisions relating to organic production but did not have a way of solving them, so the idea of a tool to guide production decisions was initiated.
4. 3 Results and discussion
The results of the prioritisation of constraints in figure 4.3 was used to inform the model development stage with regard to which outputs of the model were important to consider in the decision-making tool. As expected, a varied mix of constraints was listed by farmers. However, due to scope limitations of the study, only constraints related to production and regarded as key among the negative forces were selected from all three groups with the view of creating model outputs.
The results of the Force Field Analysis (FFA) are presented in Appendix B. A comparative analysis of the prioritised constraints identified in Appendix B is
Production Lack of irrigation Lack of organic compost-making skills Shortage of animal manure Poor knowledge of natural pest and disease control
4.3.1 Production constraints All three groups are faced with production constraints, including lack of irrigation, lack of compost-making skills, shortages of manure and poor knowledge of natural pest and disease control. The Mbumbulu and Centocow farmers have no irrigation infrastructure or water storage facilities (e.g. a dam). Consequently, their production is predominantly rain dependent. On the other hand, the Muden farmers have access to irrigation infrastructure but experience several problems that affect water availability. This is related to the fact that the Muden farmers occupy the furthest 48 farming blocks along the canal. Consequently, the farmers report that the water is used up before it reaches blocks 14 and 15. This may be attributed to the low water levels and the small capacity of the dam. The low water levels may also be attributed to a faulty sluice gate that allows water to escape, and high temperatures causing high evaporation rates (Goba, 2004). Furthermore, Muden has low rainfall (Table 3.1).
The lack of technical skills and accountability for funds to pay for repairs of the pump are contributing factors in this ongoing problem. Matungul (2002) also found that the lack of finance, limited farm expansions and investment contrained smallholder farming. Increased finances from improved production or finance from governments and NGO’s may assist the Muden farmers pay for maintenance of the irrigation system.
Although the Mbumbulu (EFO) farmers experience higher rainfall, the lack of water harvesting techniques and storage results in water shortages in drier periods. The lack of irrigation impacts negatively on attempts to improve yields through the introduction of new crops in Mbumbulu and Centocow. Ortmann & Machete (2003) have pointed out that historically smallholder farmers have not had the opportunity to produce high value crops due to limited resources.
All three groups stated that there was a shortage of manure due to the low numbers of livestock that they own or that are available in the community to supplement their manure production. The livestock available to them is insufficient to supply their manure requirements (the number of wheelbarrow loads indicated by the model).
Furthermore, increased manure usage may increase the labour demands of smallholder farmers. Kalinda et al (2000) showed in their study in southern Zambia that labour and livestock were important for expansion in smallholder production.
All groups stressed that the lack of compost-making skills was a major concern in organic farming. Currently, only farmers in Centocow have received theoretical training in compost-making but they have not actually developed skills in this respect.
Scialabba (2007) emphasised that organic farming is a knowledge-intensive farming system. Clearly, a lack of an important element for organic production, such as compost, will have a negative impact on productivity. Stefano (2004) explains that farmers use information because it is accessible, credible and understandable. It is 49 therefore important that appropriate and practical information, such as ‘on-the-job’ training, is provided for smallholder farmers and not only theoretical information that the farmers will not recall when required. The Centocow farmers said that they urgently need practical compost-making demonstrations so that they can begin to improve their soils.
All three groups expressed concern about their poor knowledge of natural pest and disease control, which is critical in certified organic farming. They agreed that farmers in their communities once had knowledge of natural pest and disease control but that this knowledge has been lost. Juma (2007) suggests that knowledge loss occurred as a result of the Green revolution, which promoted the use of agrochemicals to the detriment of local knowledge. Aliber et al (2006) further explains that the historical removal of African people from rural agricultural areas as a means of providing cheap labour to urban South Africa contributed to the neglect of agricultural development in these areas.
The farmers in Mbumbulu have been organically certified for approximately five years but listed lack of adequate knowledge of natural pest and disease control as a serious constraint. They also said they were confident about producing traditional crops such as amadumbe, sweetpotatoes and potatoes because they were familiar with natural pest and disease control regimes pertaining to these but did not have the confidence to try new crops. They viewed the introduction of new crops as risky due to their lack of knowledge of natural pest and disease control for these crops. The farmers in Muden and Centocow stated that their lack of natural pest and disease control knowledge may be a deterrent for considering venturing into certified organic farming. It is therefore paramount that farmers have access to appropriate information and technical skills relating to natural pest and disease control. However, the farmers will have to make an effort to seek information on new crops. Stefano (2004) indicated that sometimes farmers do not have the required information because of a lack of effort on their part to seek this out. However, Stefano (2004) also admits that lower literacy levels and lack of competence in the use of literature by farmers may impact on existing information not being used.
504.3.2 Resource constraints
The Mbumbulu, Muden and Centocow farmers listed finances and fencing material as the most important resources for improved success in farming but these are currently very scarce. Lack of finances was identified as the top resource constraint by all three groups (Table 4.1). In his study on the contribution of soil and water conservation to rural livelihoods in Muden, Goba (2004) found that farmers in blocks 5 and 6 also stressed the importance of fencing in preventing crop loss. Good fencing keeps livestock out and restricts crop damage and loss. All groups stated that fencing was expensive and that they would need external financial assistance to purchase external inputs to improve production. All the farmers said that, unlike commercial farmers, they have to finance farming operations from household income. Historically, smallholder farmers did not receive financial assistance from the government (Ortmann & Machete, 2003). Although there are programmes to address this imbalance, many smallholder farmers have not received assistance. Furthermore, most smallholder farmers in South Africa farm on communal land and as such they lack collateral for loans. This situation leads to inadequate resources to buy farming implements, inputs (eg. fertiliser, seeds and manure), labour and irrigation infrastructure. The farmers stated that farming suffers from low productivity and yields. Furthermore, accessing resources was a problem because they reside in poor rural areas and are unable to access assistance for rural farmers, such as via financial institutions, even when it exists. The farmers in Centocow expressed the view that they have been forgotten by Government authorities. While they have heard via the radio of special farmer-targeted programmes offered by the Government, they do not know how to access such programmes.
4.3.3 Marketing constraints
The farmers in Muden and Centocow do not access formal markets due to several barriers. Mthembu (2007) identified the marketing barriers as those related to resources, information and high transaction costs in the three study areas. Lack of access to markets and market intelligence for a niche market, such as organics, is detrimental to the growth of smallholder certified organic farms (Makhanya, 2006).
The Muden and Centocow farmers expressed the view that they are currently 51 incapable of identifying and retaining such niche markets due to a lack of experience in marketing. The Mbumbulu farmers were assisted in accessing formal markets by a researcher from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. However, these farmers faced many problems, such as a lack of understanding of how the formal market works, pricing information and payment structures. The Muden and Centocow farmers are not certified organic farmers yet, but they also face similar marketing problems.
These shortcomings in marketing increase the risk of exposure to dishonest middlemen who can take advantage of this situation.
4.3.4 Policy and institutional constraints
The lack of policies governing organic farming in South Africa is a problem for those who are certified and for those who wish to acquire certification (BDOCA, 2006).
Although there are some South African organic certification bodies, South Africa relies on foreign standards, which does not help develop local capacity and often foreign companies do not have a full understanding of local conditions (Barret et al, 2002; Banados & Garcia, 2001). The lack of policy and legislation for organic agriculture in South Africa makes it difficult for the industry to develop and translate into programmes (e.g. mainstream organic farming training in agriculture degrees).
Scialabba (2007) stressed that a conducive policy environment is key to the development of organic agriculture worldwide. All groups expressed the need to have access to experienced extension officers who can assist with providing relevant organic farming information. Many extension officers in South Africa, including the ones at Mbumbulu and Muden, are not trained in organic farming and find it difficult to support organic farming. One of the critical areas in organic farming is natural pest and disease management (stated as a production constraint) which is not addressed due to the lack of skills and information by extension officer.
Only one of the groups is organically certified. The Mbumbulu group was assisted by a researcher from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the process of preparing for and acquiring certification. Arranging organic certification can be expensive and complex.
The farmers in Mbumbulu reported that certification costs were high and they are concerned about annual inspection costs. Modi (2004) agrees that the Mbumbulu farmers would have found it very difficult to acquire organic certification had they not
4.4 Summary The participatory nature of the study assisted farmers to identify constraints that were categorised into production, resource, marketing and policy constraints. As per the farmers’ desire, the study focused further analysis and development of the decision support tool required to address identified production constraints. Production constraints were given priority because farmers felt that this was the one area where they were required to make many decisions. Further engagement with farmers had revealed that they wanted to be more productive and prosper in organic farming but lacked information on what crops were suitable to grow organically in their areas.
Other sub-problems related to the farmers’ opinion of the organic production decision-support tool and threats to the commercialisation of organic farming were developed and addressed in chapters five and six.