Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Evaluation of Access to Climate-Smart Technologies for Women Empowerment in Small-Holder Farming Sector in South Africa

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Evaluation of Access to Climate-Smart Technologies for Women Empowerment in Small-Holder Farming Sector in South Africa

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omited.)


South African agriculture appeared to be polarised with few ever declining (35 000) commercial farmers (who the majority are white) and many (2 500 000) emerging and smallholder farmers (Okunlola et al., 2016). Evidence suggests that the persistence of the dualist agricultural system could be due to large group projects. These group projects are amongst others initiated by a democratic government which is developmental in nature. Projects such as Phakhisa, AgriParks, Comprehensive Agricultural Support Program (CASP), Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS), Fetsa Tlala, Ditalawa Appel Project, Maluti Dairy Projects, etc. were designed and implemented for the poor rural farmers through the auspices of the land and agrarian reform with a conscious biasedness to the historically disadvantaged social groups such as women and black people in general. These land and agricultural reform projects are meant to empower smallholder farmers (especially women smallholder farmers) and offer them opportunities throughout the value chain.

In pursuit of societal betterment and societal transformation, women have started farming as a result of a variety of socio-economic challenges ranging from unemployment, poverty, and inequalities resulting from discriminating policies and socio-cultural norms that perpetuate patriarchy. The problem is that although women participate in agriculture farming (i.e., production and input and outputs markets) in the country, their support systems have not been adequately resourced. That is, their agriculture production system remains subsistence-oriented, focusing predominantly on household food and nutrition security.

This farming system limited resilience and made women farmers vulnerable to, amongst others, climate change. Improving climate resilience involves assessing how climate change will create new, or alter current, climate-related risks, and taking steps to better cope with these risks. Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices and technologies are known to farmers; however, lack of availability of CSA technologies, its implementation, and the adoption of necessary and relevant solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change through CSA has been concerning.

CSA strategies, technologies, and practices may require scrutiny to understand which strategies are more effective, efficient, and with the most significant positive and sustainable impact (i.e., where, when, and how) on small scale farmer's livelihoods. There is an urgent need for a thorough and systematic examination of interventions that are robust and effectively address challenges associated with climate change risks.

Henceforth, this study aimed at understanding of the CSA practices and technologies in South Africa, particularly in the two Provinces in which the UN Women CSA project is being implemented, which are Limpopo and Free State Provinces. These provinces are regarded as food hubs of South Africa (Khoabane, 2017). In this study, opportunities, and constraints faced by stakeholders and women farmers in adopting particular CSA technologies and practices along agricultural value chains were investigated.

Problem statement

It appears that rural women in agriculture in South Africa lack the necessary empowerment to mitigate and adapt to climate change through CSA. This lack of adaptation could adversely affect their agricultural productivity, resilience, and economic growth. Although some climate change adaptation technology interventions are being implemented in this country, more work still needs to be done to enable rural communities, especially women, to cope with the longer-term effects of climate change. As a result of the lack of resilience to climate change, these women are unable to take advantage of the current procurement opportunities to supply food and inputs to various markets in the government and private sectors of South Africa due to lack of access to CSA technologies, finance, and production inputs. …

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