A number of studies have been conducted on behalf of the Water Research Commission (WRC) in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo that have sought to understand the challenges that smallholder irrigation farmers face, and to identify mechanisms to improve their water use efficiency as well as their participation in value chains. The various studies have identified development pathways whereby farmers can progress from being homestead gardeners with a focus on subsistence production, to more market-oriented production within irrigation schemes. The studies have identified constraints that many smallholder farmers face in terms of participating in more commercially-oriented value chains, which include lack of access to capital, weak extension support, poor organisation and coordination of production, and irregularity of supply in terms of quality and quantity. It is clear that a lot of information has been gathered to date, and an effective mechanism is sought to enable this information to be used by stakeholders so that opportunities are created for smallholders to establish and manage viable businesses that allow for income generation and job creation. Therefore this project aims to achieve the following:
- Consolidate information gathered from different WRC studies and present it to a diverse stakeholder group (NGOs, Researchers and Government) in a way that allows them to engage with it and find ways to integrate the findings into their own work programmes.
- Engage with stakeholders to share information and develop practical mechanisms for the inclusion of smallholders in commercially oriented value chains.
- Make information accessible and present it in ways that can inform policy and decision-making.
Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) acknowledges that the main problem facing the sector is the lack of a comprehensive policy framework to harmonise, guide and regulate the provision of support services to the various categories of producers. This has created unnecessary confusion with regards to the roles and responsibilities of various institutions that provide support to the various types of producers in South Africa (DAFF, 2018). One of the main outcomes of the project will be to develop policy briefs to allow for information to be shared effectively with decision-makers.