Unlocking markets to smallholders : Lessons from South Africa
Schalkwyk, Herman D. van
Groenewald, Jan A.
Fraser, Gavin C.G.
Tilburg, Aad van
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This book documents the key findings of a study designed to investigate the institutional and technical constraints to smallholder agriculture in selected areas of South Africa. To what extent can small-scale farmers share in the expected gains of integration into national or international markets and what institutional and other reforms are necessary to enhance their effective and profitable participation in the regional economy? In order to answer this question, the book attempts to shed some light into the diverse factors that affect access to output markets for South Africa’s small-scale farmers or their access to input markets where they procure needed inputs and farm services (e.g. credit). South African smallholders are predominantly black farmers who generally started their business from a situation in which they lacked basic resources such as economic, social and human capital. The ideal is to attain a situation in which these smallholders become more productive, more market-oriented and better connected to markets than before. Some categories of these smallholders, usually called emerging farmers, are more market oriented than others because they produce purposely for local, national or international markets. With improved knowledge about the opportunities and constraints facing smallholders or emerging farmers, private and public policy makers at national and provincial levels will be better equipped to focus their support activities on the needs of these smallholders or emerging farmers with the aim to improve their relative positions in the value chain. The original ideas for the study – as represented in this book – were hatched at the Dean’s office of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences of the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa in 2003 where Herman van Schalkwyk and Ajuruchukwu Obi developed a concept note for a research on ‘Assessing the institutional and technical constraints to smallholder agriculture in selected areas of South Africa and implications for market access, poverty alleviation, and socio-economic sustainability’. This note was shared with Aad van Tilburg who made inputs leading up to the elaboration of a project proposal that was submitted to the South Africa Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD) and was approved in 2004 as SANPAD-project 04/11. Gavin Fraser was invited to participate in a start-up workshop during which a project team of the four persons mentioned was formally established to initiate and supervise the study. Jan Groenewald joined the team when the ideas about a book were put into practice. The book consists of contributions by the five editors and both colleagues and (former) PhD students of the University of the Free State as well as former MSc students of both the University of the Free State and the University of Fort Hare. The editors and authors of the book express their gratitude to the editors of the Mansholt Series of Wageningen Academic publishers for the inclusion of this book in their series and to the peer reviewer who gave highly valuable comments and suggestions for improvement of the manuscript in two rounds.
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