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Farmers’ perspectives with regard to arable crop production and deagrarianisation: an analysis of Nkonkobe Municipality, South Africa
(Farmers' perspectives with regard to crop production: an analysis of Nkonkobe Municipality, South Africa)
This exploratory study evaluated biophysical, cultural and socio-economic factors affecting crop production and land utilisation in the Nkonkobe Municipality, South Africa. The study sought to establish what farmers in the area perceive as serious threats to crop production, drivers for land abandonment, and how best current agricultural production could be intensified. The farmers’ perspectives were assessed through interviews using semi-structured and open-ended questionnaires. The results of the study revealed declining crop productivity and increase in land abandonment in the Municipality. The biophysical drivers of land abandonment were low and erratic rainfall and land degradation while the socio-economic drivers were labour shortages due to old age and youth movement to cities, lack of farming equipment and security concerns. The most abandoned crops were maize, sorghum and wheat. This trend was attributed to the labour intensiveness of cereal production and a shift in dietary preference to purchased rice. These findings should be factored in any programmes that seek to increase land utilisation and crop productivity in the Municipality.