Access to municipal markets by agro-smallholder producers in eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality: a public administration perspective.
Nyawo, Jabulani Christopher.
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The government's inability in South Africa to ensure that both local and national markets adequately accommodate smallholder producers is hindering the sector’s ability to grow and develop. Minimal research has focused on how local government interacts with other spheres of government to improve and ensure accessibility to municipal markets for agro-smallholder producers, and limited studies have been conducted that explore the influence of municipal markets on agro-smallholder producers. Therefore, this study aimed to critically examine municipal markets' influence on agro-smallholder growth within a decentralised state. This study employed a qualitative exploratory research methodology using semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. The researcher utilised a non-probability, purposive sampling method—the sample comprised participants from government departments and agrosmallholder producers falling under the eThekwini Municipality’s jurisdiction. The researcher conducted seven individual face-to-face interviews with government officials and 15 focus group discussions with agro-smallholder producers. The data collected were analysed using the thematic analysis technique. The study results show that the municipal markets and the extension services do not provide substantial support to agro-smallholder producers who are seeking access to markets. Furthermore, the study found that there is no integration or relationship between the eThekwini Municipality and the KZN Agriculture and Rural Development on the issues related to the promotion and development of agro-smallholder producers. Through the application of administrative theory, the study recommends that the government institutions incorporate stakeholders’ insights, lay a policy foundation for a whole-of-government approach to planning, and set the direction for agrosmallholder's planned future. The creation of a coherent planning and coordination system could assist government institutions in ensuring that better outcomes are achieved to deliver support services to agro-smallholder producers. Furthermore, the government institutions will be more effective if they have sufficient human resources who are qualified and able to ensure their departments' effective management and smooth functioning.