This dissertation describes a study undertaken in Limpopo Province and is based on the GPAP project which was created under the auspices of LIMPAST through an established working partnership of ARC-GCI and LDA extension services. The study aimed at analysing the impact of the Grain Production Advancement Project on farmers’ production efficiency; and to determine factors that could have possibly affected the implementation of improved maize cultivars and essential maize production practices at farmer level. In essence, two important phenomena of the study are addressed: train-the-trainer, and also train the farmer. Through the GPAP project, farmer groups were formed and capacitated. Extension officers seconded to the project were also capacitated to implement the project through On-farm trials, Demonstrations and Farmer Field Schools. A combination of explorative and conceptual analytical techniques was used for data analysis. Explorative analysis was meant to present frequency analysis, and descriptive statistics. In conceptualization analysis, content analysis was used to confirm the descriptions of behaviour and content of documents. Three checklists were administered to respondents. The first checklist was used to ensure efficient group functioning of farmer groups, the second checklist was used to determine mobilisation of farmer groups and the third checklist determined the extent to which leader farmers implemented the training program for Aganang leader farmer group. A questionnaire was also used to determine extension officers’ perceptions on the following aspects: <ul> <li> Farmer participation;</li> <li> Implementation tools;</li> <li> Production efficiency; and</li> <li> Factors that led to poor implementation.</li> </ul> A Screening Instrument was used to predict the chances of the selected individual leader farmers from the Aganang district, to be successful in farming. Findings from the study indicate that 12 on-farm trials were successfully implemented and managed by extension staff and Farmer Field days were well attended in the first two seasons on the project. Farmer groups were formed and respondents revealed that the utmost reason for the formation of a group was to improve their maize production and to increase knowledge and skills. Only 33% of the groups have reached the task/performance stage of group effectiveness. The farmer groups performed on an average level due to the following reasons; there is still a dependency syndrome in farmer groups and a need to improve ownership acceptance by farmers. Extension respondents perceive that for a farmer group to perform efficiently the following needs to be in place: cohesiveness and teamwork, common goal, commitment, interest, self-reliance, participation and ownership. A total of 63% of small-scale farmers have only access to less than one (1) ha of arable land. Adoption of maize cultivars was to a moderate extent and 40% of farmers implemented the recommended farming practices to a great extent. The utmost farmer constraints that were attributed to farmers’ low implementation of farming practices included; drought, land shortage, financial support and labour shortage. However, there was a positive increase in the use of hybrid seed which also improved farmer’s maize productivity levels. In the Aganang municipality, a total of 20 leader farmers were selected for a leadership development program. Nineteen leader farmers completed a Screening Instrument to determine their chances to be successful in farming. The Screening Instrument revealed that only one (1) respondent had a 50% chance to be successful, and three respondents revealed a 26-49% chance to be successful. The Aganang leadership development program provided skills and knowledge to farmers and it was revealed that the leader farmers implemented the skills only to a moderate extent. Overall, the GPAP project had a positive impact on farmer’s productivity efficiency but there is need for a re-look at the project with special attention to the following: <ul> <li> Identification of high potential dry land production areas;</li> <li> The majority of farmer groups are too large and should be divided into smaller groups with clear, specific and measurable objectives; and</li> <li>Serious attention should be given to selected farmers with the best chance of success to participate in the project.</li></ul> Copyright
Dissertation (MSc(Agric))--University of Pretoria, 2010.