n South African Journal of Agricultural Extension - Extension needs of small-scale dairy farmers in the North-Eastern Free State

Volume 30, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0301-603X
  • E-ISSN: 2413-3221


The study evaluated the management practices of small-scale dairy farmers in the North-Eastern Free State. The sample area focused on farmers (on communal and state land farms) in the former self-governing territory of Qwaqwa, as well as in parts of the Harrismith, Kestell and Bethlehem districts where newly settled land-reform beneficiaries are concentrated. In this study it was found that most of the problems experienced by the farmers were related to the unresolved land tenure system (communal land), as well as shortage of water, lack of working capital, untimely veld fires, lack of co-operation among farmers (farming group schemes) and inadequate extension services to advise small-scale dairy farmers. Due to a lack of mechanical implements, all the small-scale dairy farmers in the sample made use of manual labour. Knowledge, skills, training and co-operation among themselves were identified by the respondents as being prerequisites for success. Future interventions aimed at improving and strengthening the sustainability and the livelihoods of the small-scale dairy farmers, thereby ensuring equity and reducing economic vulnerability of small-scale dairy projects, should take into account a number of different factors. With regard to extension, government should endeavour to provide an effective service, thereby establishing links with formal channels of marketing, as well as local markets and informal marketing systems, training in farming principles, financial assistance, assistance in acquiring a farm or more land, improving environmental conservation and promoting social infrastructure. The study also reveals that mixed farming should be promoted, since it is unlikely that small-scale farmers can make a living purely from dairying.

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