The sustainability of small-scale sheep farming systems in the Northern Cape (Hantam Karoo), South Africa

  • M. Zenda
  • P. Malan
Keywords: Small-scale sheep farmers, triple bottom-line sustainability, Hantam Karoo


The objective of the study was to assess the current sustainability of small-scale sheep farming systems in the Hantam Karoo, Northern Cape Province (South Africa). The influence of economic, social, and environmental variables (indicators) in promoting the development of sustainable sheep farming was taken into account. Thirty-two small-scale sheep farmers were interviewed using questionnaires which consisted of structured and unstructured questions. The results showed that the sheep farming system was mostly not economically viable due to low sheep numbers, but partially sustainable in the social context. Small flocks result in low income and profitability which is not sustainable. Market access was not a limitation because farmers had good trade relations. Farming benefitted farmers’ families and the community and farmers had access to basic resources. Secure tenure was a major challenge to small-scale farmers. With regard to environmental variables, grazing conditions were poor. In 2017, stocking density was within the norm, which means that frequent droughts and continuous grazing methods rather than sheep stocking rates were probably responsible for poor grazing conditions. Extension advisors could teach the practice of rotational grazing and it might be a good idea to promote gender equality in order to alleviate poverty and increase food security. 


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