Agriculture is central to social and economic growth, especially in developing areas where the general welfare and farming fortunes are so closely linked. Since large portions of the population are still rural, any attempt to improve the income of the poor, cannot neglect this sector. Raising the income of the rural sector is one of the most efficient ways to generate an expanded market for the kind of goods that can be produced by local labour intensive industries.
Research conducted in Peddie district indicates that common property resources were poorly managed and that rural people, who are struggling to make ends meet, are not well-disposed to resource management systems that rely on their free labour. Hence the need to combine efforts to manage the resource base more sustainable with increased opportunities for generating local incomes.
With new land policy favouring the continuation of, albeit modified, communal tenure systems, it is important to be able to pinpoint what exactly it is that some communal rangeland managers are doing correctly and to transfer this information to other communal users. It is also essential that the Provincial Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs be equipped to advise and make inputs into these systems on the basis of sound research. Our research seeks to understand the ecological, socio-economic and institutional dynamics of what appear to be successful communal rangeland management systems in the Eastern Cape. The research project aims or identify communal rangeland in good condition and then study how and why those graziers are able to apply their local knowledge to rangeland management better than other graziers.
One of the problems facing resource poor agriculture is that the farming systems practised by smallholders are not sustainable. The aim of Farmers for Africa is to address this issue and develop in co-operation with the farming and pastoral communities acceptable and sustainable integrated land-use practices. The common denominator in most extensive rural systems is the lack of continuity in the fodder flow availability. The communal grazing scenario poses both forage quantity and quality constraints which seriously restrict animal production particularly in the dry season. The programme has the capacity to provide direct benefits to communities intent on operating livestock production systems. The modules can be managed alone or in mixed farming enterprises to improve fodder flow and utilise crop residues from the cropping section.
More than 4000 wool farmers in the traditionally disadvantaged areas the Transkei/Ciskei have shown initiative to improve the standards of production and organisation of their farming enterprises. They joined the Transkei and Ciskei Wool Growers Organisations and through the auspices of the National Wool Growers Association approached the ARC-Range and Forage Institute to develop a value adding programme for sustainable livestock production. It was apparent from a log-frame exercise with the community leaders that a multi-institutional approach was needed to develop an integrated multiple livestock and crop production system for the Eastern Cape.
The capacities of the livestock and crop producers organisations, National Wool Growers Association, Red Meat Producers Organisation, National Emerging Red Meat Producers Organisation, Grain South Africa and the ARC institutes, ARC-RFI, ARC-AII, ARC-Roodeplaat, ARC-GCI, ARC-Development Impact Analyses Group and the Eastern Cape Department of Agriculture were consulted and invited to form a project consortium. The project is in line with the mission of these organisations for a better quality of life of the South African population as well as the provision of food security, land care and conservation of biodiversity.
Gerrie Trytsman, Private Bag X05, Lynn East, 0039, RSA
Tel: +27 (0)12 841 9825
Fax: +27 (0)12 808 2155