Profitability of cabbage production by smallholder farmers in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa


  • L. Mdoda University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • A. Obi University of Fort Hare
  • C. Mzuyanda North-West University
  • P. Jiba



Cabbage farming, Eastern Cape Province, Profitability, Smallholder irrigation, Stochastic Frontier


Cabbage is one of the most cultivated vegetable crops that are used as a staple crop because of its affordability and nutritional value. Improving profit efficiency in vegetable farming is important for both economic, livelihood, and to certain extent - food security. The crop plays a significant role in reducing the poverty levels of the previously disadvantaged in different parts of South Africa.  We argue that cabbage is mostly grown by smallholder farmers whose technical efficiency is not well known. It is for this reason that we take measures towards developing empirical evidence on technical efficiency to enhance its production and advancement. The study estimated technical efficiency and factors of technical inefficiency among smallholder irrigation producers of cabbage. A total of 150 growers were selected from a list of vegetable farmers from Eastern Cape Municipalities using a multi-stage sampling. A stochastic production frontier model was employed while correcting for heteroscedasticity in stochastic and inefficiency error terms. Gross margin was used to determine the profitability of smallholder cabbage farming. The study findings revealed that farming is practiced by the elderly who mainly had primary education. There were increasing returns from cabbage farming and farmer average technical efficiency of about 78%. This implies 21.16% inefficiency level, indicating that there are reserves available to raise revenues through refining practical and allocative competencies of farmers. Farm size (Area), seed and capital were production-increasing variables while fertilizer and labour used were reducing farm returns of cabbage production. Sources of farmer technical inefficiency were age, farm experience, years spent in school, access to extension services, household size and transportation to markets. The provision of formal skills development training and resources for farmers could improve the technical and managerial capacities of farmers.


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How to Cite

Mdoda, L., Obi, A., Mzuyanda, C., & Jiba, P. (2022). Profitability of cabbage production by smallholder farmers in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Agricultural Extension (SAJAE), 50(2), 1–25.

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