Assessing the impacts of a donor-funded agricultural extension service on smallholders in Umzimkhulu, South Africa

A. Thom, N. Jonas
This paper examines the impact of Lima Rural Development Foundation's (hereafter Lima) agricultural extension services to disadvantaged communities in rural South Africa. Lima's farmer support programme aims to improve smallholders' food production practices, connect them to appropriate markets, and stimulate rural agriculture's potential for creating sustainable livelihoods in some of South Africa's poorest regions. Lima believes that successful non-governmental organisation-driven agricultural extension for resource-scarce farmers is largely dependent upon a community-based model that integrates technical advice, market linkages, and access to appropriate technology, and the ongoing provision of services over time. Lima's farmer support model is briefly outlined, then an external appraisal of Lima's extension activities draws from an econometric analysis of 182 farm households surveyed in Umzimkhulu by a University of KwaZulu-Natal researcher in November to December 2013. Farmers surveyed included those who had received Lima's extension services (clients) and those who had not. Descriptive statistics computed for five outcome variables were compared across clients and a subset of non-clients that had observed characteristics similar to those of clients. The impact of extension services on each of these variables was estimated using two-stage least squares regression with an instrumental variable to account for selection bias. The survey results show that Lima's extension services had significant positive impacts on the outcomes. Discussion of results serves to guide programme design and practice for successful extension activities, and recommendations aim to inform policies for rural agricultural development.
Thom, A. and Jonas, N. (2016). Assessing the impacts of a donor-funded agricultural extension service on smallholders in Umzimkhulu, South Africa. Acta Hortic. 1128, 305-314
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1128.46
rural development, poverty alleviation, access to markets, developing countries, program design, government policy

Acta Horticulturae