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Adoption and willingness to pay for organic fertiliser: a case of smallholder potato (solanum tuberosum L.) farmers in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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Potato cultivation involves intensive soil tillage throughout the cropping season, which often results in soil degradation, erosion, and leaching of nitrates. Literature suggest that efforts to produce sufficient food necessitate an increase in agricultural production per unit of inputs by adopting fertility-enhancing techniques (both organic and inorganic fertilisers) to replenish soil nutrients required by crops. However, inorganic fertiliser as a soil ameliorant is known for causing soil degradation, environmental pollution, and it is associated with escalating costs. As a result, smallholder farmers are constrained in realizing their maximum yield potential. One of the ways to boost productivity without degrading the environment is to adopt a more sustainable, low-cost, and efficient integrated nutrient management system, which also suit their socioeconomic status. Although there is sufficient advocacy in the adoption of sustainable agricultural inputs such as organic fertiliser, the economic linkage between farmers' socioeconomic factors and adoption has not been adequately explored. Moreover, there is a dearth of empirical evidence regarding the willingness of farmers to pay a price premium for organic fertilisation of their soil. The aim of this study was to evaluate socioeconomic factors influencing the adoption and use intensity of organic fertiliser among smallholder potato farmers’ as well as to estimate their willingness to pay (WTP) a price premium for organic fertiliser. Primary data was collected from 189 smallholder farmers in three municipal areas in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, through a multi-stage sampling technique. The analytical framework incorporated descriptive statistics, double-hurdle, and ordered probit models. The double-hurdle model was used to identify the factors influencing the adoption and use intensity of organic fertiliser, under the assumption that the decision to adopt and the intensity of adoption are separate. The contingent valuation method (CVM) was used to elicit information for the WTP, and after that, the ordered probit model was employed to estimate the determinants of farmers' WTP for organic fertiliser. Empirical results indicate that factors such as household head gender, household size, access to credit, access to extension, knowledge of organic fertiliser usage, land ownership, livestock size and access to social grants significantly influenced the decision of organic fertiliser adoption. In contrast, factors such as the age of farmer, knowledge of organic fertiliser usage, farm size and livestock size significantly influenced the use intensity of organic fertiliser. In addition, results revealed that factors such as marital status, access to extension services, and knowledge of organic fertiliser usage, land ownership, livestock size and distance to the source of organic fertiliser were also statistically significant in determining the farmers’ WTP a price premium for organic fertiliser. The study found that the rate of organic fertiliser adoption is very high among the sampled potato smallholder farmers even though there is still a notably large number of farmers who are not using organic fertiliser. This result leads to the conclusion that organic fertiliser is the most popular soil nutrient ameliorant among smallholder potato farmers in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. This study also found that WTP a price premium for organic fertiliser was very high and this lead to a conclusion which justify the prospect of commercialization of organic fertiliser to facilitate the availability of organic fertiliser to those that are willing to pay for it. This study recommends improved access to extension services to improve technical information dissemination and knowledge of organic fertiliser usage among smallholder farmers. There is also a need to develop policies that strive to institute security of land tenure among smallholder farmers, which will encourage smallholder farmers WTP and also adopt and intensify organic fertiliser. Keywords: Organic fertiliser, smallholder farmers, adoption, use intensity, willingness to pay, Contingent valuation, Craggs’ Double Hurdle model, Ordered logit model.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.