Determinants of productivity among African indigenous vegetable farmers in Vhembe District of Limpopo Province, South Africa
Mulaudzi, Vuledzani Sheryl
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Agriculture remains the mainstay of many African economies. It continues to be a key tool for sustainable development, alleviation of poverty, generation of household income and food security in many developing countries, including South Africa. Therefore, the study was aimed at evaluating productivity and technical efficiency of African indigenous vegetable farmers in Vhembe district of Limpopo province. Farming constraints experienced by farmers in the study area were also explored. The results from the analysis revealed 59.6 years as the average age of the farmers. About 43.9% of the farmers had a maximum of 13 years of schooling while the number of years of farming experience was relatively high with mean years of 30.9 years. Analysis of gender indicated that 64% of the respondents were female. The household size was uncovered to be 4.96 members on average. About 84% of the farmers lacked access to formal credit, while 92% had access to extension services. Empirical results from Cobb-Douglas production function found area cultivated, fertiliser, seeds and labour to be the positive significant factors influencing productivity of indigenous vegetables farmers. The estimated elasticity of area cultivated, fertiliser, labour and seed inputs were found to be 0.22, 0.07, 0.09 and 0.002 respectively. Land was viewed as the most vital input determining productivity of vegetables with the highest elasticity. Furthermore, results revealed that smallholder farmers in Vhembe district are technically efficient in the production of indigenous vegetables with the highest mean of 0.93% level. Variables which were found to be significant in determining technical efficiency were years of schooling, extension services, gender and access to irrigation system. Farmers in Vhembe district were found to be facing numerous challenges when producing and marketing indigenous vegetables, of which the most common were shortage of water (79% ), lack of improved seeds (66%), perishability of vegetables (58), poor access to high-value market (54%) and low selling price (54% ). In conclusion, based on the outcome of the study, it was recommended that farmers should expand land under indigenous vegetable cultivation in order to enhance productivity thereby maximizing profit. It was further recommended that in order to enhance extension services in the study area, training and practical workshop approach should be adopted. Constructing of boreholes was recommended as a possible solution to water scarcity problem in the area.