In rain-fed farming systems, a poor harvest can have broad and overwhelming effects on affected households. Smallholder farmers have to ensure that they have adequate food from one harvest to the other and enough inputs for the next farming season. Households consume more just after the harvest and the consumption levels decline as they move away from the harvest season.
The study identified the ex-ante and ex-post adjustment mechanisms to seasonal food and input requirements. Special consideration was given to determine whether the probability of using a given adjustment mechanism to seasonality is the same in good, normal, poor and very poor years and whether household wealth has an influence on the use of adjustment mechanisms. Attention was also given to determining whether agricultural production and household wealth are reflected in observed seasonality in consumption.
The study used cross-sectional data from 225 randomly selected households. The study relied on non-parametric methods of data analysis because the required dependent variables could not meet the parametric assumptions.
The analysis showed that the probabilities of using some ex-ante and ex-post adjustment mechanisms for both food and input requirements by the non-poor households are not the same in good, normal, poor and very poor years. However, the poor households’ probability of using any of the identified ex-post adjustment mechanisms to seasonal input requirements is the same in all the years.
The study established that household wealth affects the use of ex-ante and ex-post adjustment mechanisms to seasonal input requirements and ex-post adjustment mechanisms to seasonal food requirements after good, normal, poor and very poor harvests. The study further revealed that agricultural production is reflected in household seasonal consumption. However, the study failed to find a relationship between consumption and agricultural production in the post-harvest season after good and normal harvests. The study also showed that household wealth is reflected in food consumption in all the seasons of normal, poor and very poor years. However, no relationship was found between food consumption and household wealth in the post-harvest and rainy seasons after good harvests.
The study further revealed that there is always a seasonal fall in consumption levels among households of all wealth strata despite the use of adjustment mechanisms. The situation worsens as we move from the good years towards the very poor years.
The study suggests that the use of one size fits all type of interventions to minimise the seasonality problem cannot adequately achieve the required results for all households. It is important to know the way households from each wealth stratum respond to the seasonality problem and why they respond in such a way. Programmes that encourage strategic planning, agricultural production and wealth creation are necessary to reduce the seasonality problem. Furthermore, mechanisms which ensure that the benefits from government interventions reach the poor households are necessary.
Dissertation (MSc Agric)--University of Pretoria, 2014.