Grain production by rural subsistence farmers in selected districts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa

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Pamella Mngqawa
Lizzy M Mangena-Netshikweta
David Katerere


Subsistence farmers contribute significantly to food production, food security, and employment in South Africa. However, their production output in rural South Africa is poorly understood since no production data are available. We set out to assess maize production in two districts, namely Vhembe District Municipality (VDM) in Limpopo and Gert Sibande District Municipality (GSDM) in Mpumalanga over 2011 to 2012 seasons. A total of 39 subsistence farmers were randomly selected and interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. It was found that on average, VDM farmers were ten years older (±61.5 years) than those in GSDM (±51.1 years), but in both groups, education level was low. Maize was the staple food in both provinces, with a significant production difference of p = 0.0184 between the two districts over both seasons. In both provinces over two years, groundnuts and beans were consumed as secondary crops. Land used in VDM ranging from 0.5 - 4 (produced an average of 0.4 and 0.7 tonnes) and 1 to 4 hectares (3.0 and 1.8 tonnes) in GSDM was of a subsistence nature. Maize production levels varied from household to household. From the study, we can conclude that there is a need to improve productivity and crop diversity of crops. In general, VDM farmers’ experience lower harvests of agricultural produce than those from GSDM.

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