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Explaining smallholder aspirations to expand irrigation crop production in Makhathini and Ndumo-B, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Unity Chipfupa and Edilegnaw Wale

Agrekon, 2018, vol. 57, issue 3-4, 284-299

Abstract: This paper explores the factors influencing aspirations of smallholders to expand irrigation farming activities. It demonstrates the importance of aspirations to informing agricultural policies and understanding the behaviour of farmers and their vision regarding their farms. The Heckman two-step regression model was used to determine factors affecting aspirations/willingness of farmers to expand in the first stage and their ability to achieve or realise those aspirations in the second stage. The paper identifies five key factors that influence farmer aspirations (willingness to expand), i.e., positive psychological capital, access to markets, access to credit, land tenure security, and membership in other social groups. Gender, asset ownership, access to markets and local resource use conflicts were significant in determining farmers’ ability to achieve those aspirations. The study reveals the importance of developing positive psychological capital among smallholders and affirms the need for affordable production credit. To better make use of irrigation schemes, there is a need to build the capacity of smallholders to achieve their aspirations through empowering women and improving access to physical assets and markets. Land tenure security concerns need addressing while supporting institutions that promote social interaction and learning remain vital for the growth of the smallholder irrigation sector.

Date: 2018
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