Building resilience of small-scale farmers
This initiative is designed to strengthen resilience and adaptation of small-scale farmers to climate change through a number of collaboratively-designed adaptation options. These include improved soil and water conservation techniques, learning, collective action and livelihood diversification in a climate changing world. AWARD has two sub-grants to support small-scale farming in the Mametja area (lower Olifants) and Sekhukhuneland and Capricorn (middle Olifants).
Lower Olifants – Mahlathini
- Small-scale farming in the lower Olifants is being supported by a grant to Mahlathini Development Foundation. In 2018, 105 farmers (70% women) were involved in six learning groups. Farmers are still battling with serious water supply problems, but there are several examples of how they have adapted their practices in response to the hot and dry conditions – these include using shade cloth tunnels, trench beds, mulch and eco-circles. Field-based training this year included use of hand-held and animal-drawn planters, mixed cropping, field cropping, tunnel construction, planning, planting schedules, record-keeping and herb production and marketing.
Sekukhuneland – Ukuvuna
- Small-scale farming support in the Middle Olifants is implemented through Ukuvuna Harvests, working in 12 villages across the Capricorn and Sekhukhune districts using a similar model to Mahlathini. The cluster (learning group) membership increased to 223 this year (65% women) and the number of cluster leaders increased from 11 to 16. The project has also engaged 18 community groups (schools, churches, creches and clinics).
- An exciting development this year has been the emergence of a group of youth farmers. Ukuvuna, together with AWARD and Hoedspruit Hub, has supported these young farmers with training and access to materials. At least half the farmers are generating extra income by selling vegetables, plants, herbs and livestock, although in one village (Dithabaneng) this was as high as 72%.
- Leadership conflicts at cluster level prompted Ukuvuna to establish two committees to act as the primary entry point for all project management, event planning and communication with Ukuvuna and AWARD in the Middle Olifants. These community-level structures provide more space for farmers to be involved in their own development processes.
- Collaborations with Hoedspruit Hub, the Amanzi for Food Project and the Legal Resources Centre this year have strengthened our capacity to support smallholder farmers in both practice and policy.
- More than 50 youth farmers were provided with capacity-building support, training and access to resources such as tanks and fencing, through our partnership with Hoedspruit Hub. Our partnership with Hoedspruit Hub has also enhanced farmer livelihoods by providing marketing support for organic vegetables and herbs (20 farmers in Mametja) and organic mango production in Lepelle (30 farmers).
- Herb farmers supported through a partnership between MDF and Hoedspruit Hub started to sell their produce in Hoedspruit in September, with sales in the first month of around R600 per farmer, an exciting milestone.