Operational challenges faced by smallholder farmers: a case of Ethekwini Metropolitan in South Africa
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The study is aimed at establishing the impact of access to capital, access to markets, access to information and access to technology on competitiveness of smallholder farmers on the market in Ethekwini Metropolitan in South Africa. A questionnaire is used as a research instrument. A total of 100 participants was sampled from a population of 485 smallholder farmers in Ethekwini Metropolitan. From the sample, 21% were male and 79% were female. All respondents were all from the African race. The study reveales that access to funding, access to markets, access to information and access to technology not only influenced viability of the smallholder farmers in Ethekwini Metropolitan, but also that the smallholder farmers were not getting enough access to all four stated variables. Of the 100 farmers, 66% of the smallholder farmers had plots with less than 0.5 acres under cultivation. Another finding was that even though the farmers had basic tools to work with, they required funding to acquire irrigation, water storage facilities, transport and tractors. As far as passing information to farmers is concerned, the farmers mostly preferred extension visits.The study recommends that well equipped agricultural resource centres be established in all the agricultural hubs. It is also recommended that the government employs an asset based community development approach when funding smallholder farmers and that the smallholder farmers and other stakeholders be conscientized on the concept of sustainable farming.