Proceedings

PR – Transforming Communities Through Agriculture: Demonstration Plot Seedcane Model Improves The Livelihoods Of Small-scale Sugarcane Growers

The small-scale farms in the communal areas of Noodsberg mill supply area, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, were not productive for many reasons, including a lack of resources, knowledge and access to finance and high food insecurity. An innovative extension approach was required to uplift communities and ensure the success of agricultural projects at a small grower level. Thus the “Demonstration Plot Seedcane Model” was initiated and developed. The project was a multi-stakeholder, private-public approach which aimed to improve the agronomic knowledge and skills of small growers while raising awareness of the high potential of the area’s natural resources for sugarcane production. Through this extension methodology, growers could become aware of the value of scientific research for their livelihoods. Key agronomic skills and knowledge transfer would include understanding differences in varieties; the importance of soil sampling, approved, locally available seed cane and pest and disease monitoring. In addition, environmental sustainability and good farming practices form the basis of the extension and technology transfer activities and promotes improved farmer co-operation and community coherence. The “Demonstration Plot Seedcane Model” allows for highly scientific information to be transferred and adopted in an accessible manner. The project, spanning 11 years, has resulted in vastly improved yields, increased area under sugarcane and improved livelihoods in the community. The contribution to the local economy is significant as is the increased stability of sugarcane supply to the local mill. This has, in turn, created job opportunities and reduced poverty at both household and community level. The model is repeatable in other regions, can be extended to other commodities and results in improved skills adoption, income generation and job creation.

Keywords: extension, rural development, sugarcane small growers

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Author(s): Gillespie, W.A., Mitchell, F.J.

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Organizations(s): KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, South African Sugarcane Research Institute