This study highlights the many differences among the Riet River farmers, as well as the differences in the constraints they endure, including major differences in productivity (with types 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 14 experiencing very low levels of productivity); lack of access to new water rights (with types 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15 being mainly affected); difficulty in accessing farming services (including lack of access to credit, inputs and product marketing services); insecure property rights (with types 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 14 being affected most due to their lack of collateral security to access the necessary services); poor infrastructure (for types 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 14 especially); low farming income (primarily for types 2, 3, 4, 7 and 14); as well as high irrigation costs, lack of fertile land of good quality, and lack of financial and technical support (mainly affecting types 1, 2, 3 and 4).
GWK Limited offers a range of farming services aimed at alleviating some of the aforementioned issues. This being said, different farmers in the region are being reached and supported through these services in highly different ways. As such, the assistance provided by GWK Limited is focused mainly on improving the farming activities of a specific group of farmers (55 %) engaged in important forms of production and with high productivity rates - mostly farmers of types 5, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 13. This means that farmers of types 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 14, with insecure land-tenure rights, small plots of land and low production and productivity rates, are not fully benefiting from these services. For example, the company has been hesitant to provide credit to these farmers owing to the high risk associated with loans to this category of farmers. Such risk can be attributed to insufficient or absent collateral (owing to poorly defined tenure rights and low levels of capital), poor financial recordkeeping, and high transaction costs involved in granting small production loans. Moreover, the
technical support and production practices offered to these farmers are of poor quality or non-existent, as the company’s services are focused primarily on farming for purposes of profitmaking. Despite having an Emerging Farmers Division under its management, GWK Limited is typically not interested in small-scale farmers.
This research study relating to agrarian systems typology contributes to the understanding of the diversity of South Africa’s agriculture, farmers’ livelihood strategies, and the extent to which agriculture contributes to household income. The study is also aimed at better analysing the farming system trajectories and agrarian changes in South Africa, so as to develop divergent policy recommendations for South African agriculture. In addition, the study contributes to a better understanding of which services are (or are not) reaching which types of farmers, and as such, it enables a readjustment of service provision aimed at broad-based agricultural development in South Africa.
Dissertation (MScAgric)--University of Pretoria, 2014.