n Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems - Qualitative evaluation of smallholder farmer decisions, support systems, knowledge and disease management tools
|Article Title||Qualitative evaluation of smallholder farmer decisions, support systems, knowledge and disease management tools|
|© Publisher:||UZ Foundation|
|Journal||Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems|
|Affiliations||1 University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2 University of KwaZulu-Natal and 3 University of KwaZulu-Natal|
|Publication Date||Dec 2012|
|Pages||160 - 178|
|Keyword(s)||Decision Support Tool (DST), Disease management, Organic farming and Small-scale farming|
Rural South African smallholder farmers are deprived of knowledge, relying on eroded indigenous knowledge to support crop production. Modern technology can play a role in supporting production decisions and packaging knowledge so it is easily accessible to all levels of users. Information Communication Technologies, such as Decision Support Tools (DST) play an important role in systematic dissemination of information in agriculture, thus improving the quality of farmer decisions, especially in rural areas. These tools are constantly developed, improved and evaluated to assess their applicability and efficacy. The article is based on the study that aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of a recently developed DST, with a disease management component, to enhance production decisions and crop-disease management, among organic and small-scale farmers. Due to resource-limitations of most smallholder farmers in South Africa, production practices, including disease control could be much improved, using indigenous-based, local knowledge about cultural methods of controlling crop diseases. A group of 15 extension officers and 12 researchers were purposively selected for the study because they play a major role in organising and disseminating information to the farmers. Participatory workshop sessions were conducted with groups, where tools were presented, explored and critiqued. The DST was found to have the potential to benefit both organic and smallholder farmers, the study recommends that government should support the development of agricultural DSTs, building on and improving eroded indigenous knowledge, to help farmers improve production and address problems with extension officers and within their resource means.
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