Operational challenges faced by smallholder farmers : a case study of eThekwini District.
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The aim of the study was to establish the impact of access to capital, access to markets, access to information and access to technology on viability of smallholder farming in eThekwini metropolitan on the market. An investigation was carried out, using a questionnaire administered to 100 smallholder farmers in eThekwini metropolitan. The questionnaire, which was the primary tool used to collect data, consisted of both closed and open ended questions. The investigation sought to establish if the above mentioned four factors affected smallholder farmers in eThekwini region. A list of smallholder farmers practising agroecology in eThekwini metropolitan was used as the population for this study. Total population size was 485 and sample size was 100. The data collected was summarised and analysed using Microsoft Excel software package. The sample was composed of 21% male and 79% female smallholder farmers. All respondents were of the African race. Statistical analysis revealed that access to funding, access to markets, access to information and access to technology not only influenced viability of smallholder farmers in eThekwini metropolitan, but that the farmers were not getting enough access to all four variables. 66% of the farmers had plots less than 0.5acres under cultivation. Another finding was that the farmers had basic tools to work with and required funding to acquire irrigation, water storage facilities, transport and tractors. As far as passing information to farmers is concerned, the farmers mostly preferred extension visits. It was recommended that well equipped agricultural resource centres be established in all agricultural hubs. The second recommendation was that the government employ an asset-based community development approach when funding smallholder farmers. Another recommendation was that farmers and other stakeholders be conscientised on the concept of sustainable farming.