An analysis of the effect of knowledge systems on empowerment levels and food security


  • N. Tamako
  • J. Thamaga-Chitja University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • M. Mudhara University of KwaZulu-Natal


Knowledge systems, Psychological empowerment, Food security, Smallholder farmers


The existing link between knowledge systems, empowerment, and food security of farmers has been proven in many studies. However, the measurement of their empowerment level focusing on the psychological dimension of their participation in these knowledge systems is limited in the agricultural sector. These knowledge systems empower farmers to access intangible and tangible resources that are valuable for farmers’ decision-making and performance. Thus, it was crucial for the study to investigate the levels of psychological empowerment outcomes attained by smallholder farmers, to evaluate the progress made by knowledge systems that were initiated and activated to empower farmers and improve their food security. A purposive sampling technique was used to select 219 smallholder farmers who are actively linked to the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture. Applying empowerment theory and previous studies, five psychological empowerment outcomes were identified. The principal component analysis method (PCA) was employed to generate the principal component (PC) of the perceived farmers’ psychological empowerment level and the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) to measure household food security. The results showed that smallholder farmers were moderately and highly competent, had a sense of self-efficacy, had a sense of control, had agricultural knowledge, and were food secure. These systems not only empowered the farmers with tangible assets but also intangible outcomes as shown in the results of the study. These knowledge systems should be highly tapped into especially in this period of COVID-19 lockdowns accompanied by movement restrictions to ensure the sustainability of agricultural systems and inclusive empowerment of intangible and tangible skills for farmers. These knowledge systems could be used to comply with COVID-19 policies and legislations that are sensitive to physical contact and platforms for farmers to engage in knowledge transformation and empowerment.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

J. Thamaga-Chitja, University of KwaZulu-Natal


School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal

PO Box X01, Scottsville 3209, South Africa

Tel: +27-(0)33-260-6171

M. Mudhara, University of KwaZulu-Natal


School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal

PO Box X01, Scottsville 3209, South Africa

Tel: +27-(0)33-260-5673


ANI, F., RAMLAN, N., MD. YUSOFF, R., & DAMIN, Z. A. (2018). Measuring the Level of Participation and Its Relationship with Psychological Empowerment through Community Based Organisation (CBO) Activities. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 8(8), 647–658

AVELINO, F., DUMITRU, A., CIPOLLA, C., KUNZE, I., & WITTMAYER, J. (2019). Trans-local empowerment in transformative social innovation networks. Retrieved from

BATOOL, S. A. & AHMED, H. K. (2019). Economic and Psycho-social Determinants of Psychological Empowerment in Women. Pakistan Journal of Social & Clinical psychology, 14(1), pp, 21-29.

BEAMAN, L. & DILLON, A. (2018). Diffusion of agricultural information within social networks: Evidence on gender inequalities from Mali’, Journal of Development Economics, 133, pp. 147–161.

CHIU, C. N. & CHEN, H. H. (2016). The study of knowledge management capability and organizational effectiveness in Taiwanese public utility: the mediator role of organizational commitment’, Springer Plus, 5, pp, 1520.


DEMIRYUREK, K., ERDEM, H., CEYHAN, V., ATASEVER, S., & UYSAL, O. (2008). Agricultural information systems and communication networks: the case of dairy farmers in the Samsun province of Turkey, 13(2), pp. 1–25.

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION. (2017). The State of Food and Agriculture: Leveraging Food Systems for Inclusive Rural Transformation. Retrieved from

GINIGE, T., RICHARDS, D., GINIGE, A., & HITCHENS, M. (2020). Design for Empowerment: Empowering Sri Lankan Farmers through Mobile-based Information System. Communications of the Association for Information Systems. Retrieved from

GOULET, F. (2013). Narratives of experience and production of knowledge within farmers’ groups. J. Rural Stud, 32, 439–447.

HORNIDGE, A. SHTALTOVNA, A., & SCHETTER, C. (2016) Knowledge and Knowledge Systems in post-Soviet Societies. International Academic Publishers: Bern.

HOFFMAN, M., LUBELL, M., & HILLIS, V. (2015). Network-smart extension could catalyze social learning. Calif Agr, 69(2), p.113-122.

IBRAHIM, S. & ALKIRE, S. (2007). Agency and Empowerment: A Proposal for Internationally Comparable Indicators. Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative, 35(4).

KABEER, N. (2001). Gender equality and women's empowerment: A critical analysis of the third Millennium Development Goal. Retrieved from

KHUSHK, G. M., SAMAH, A. A., HAMSAN, H., & AHMAD, N. (2016). Empowerment among Small Farmers of Sindh Province, Pakistan. Asian Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development, 6(3), p. 41–49.

LANDINI, F., LONG, N., LEEUWIS, C., & MURTAGH, S. 2014. Towards a Psychology of Rural Development Processes and Interventions’, Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 24, pp. 534–546.

LWOGA, E. T., STILWELL, C., & NGULUBE, P., 2013 ‘Access and use of agricultural information and knowledge in Tanzania’. Retrieved from

MATTHEWSON, M., FERY, M. & POWELL, M. (2014). Creating Farmer Networks: A Toolkit for Promoting Vibrant Farm Communities. A Pacific Northwest Extension Publication, pp 35. Retrieved from

MKENDA, P. A., MBEGA, E. & NDAKIDEMI, P. A. (2017). Accessibility of agricultural knowledge and information by rural farmers in Tanzania- A review. Journal of Biodiversity and Environmental Sciences, 11(5), pp. 216–228.

MURUGANi, V. G., & THAMAGA-CHITJA, J. M., 2019. How does women's empowerment in agriculture affect household food security and dietary diversity? The case of rural irrigation schemes in Limpopo Province, South Africa.Agricultural Economics Research, Policy and Practice in Southern Africa, 58(9), p. 308-323.

SLIGO, F.X.; & MASSEY, C., (2007). Risk, trust and knowledge networks in farmers’ learning. J. Rural Stud, 23, 170–182. Aggreko, 58(3), pp: 308-323.

SPREITZER, G. M., (1996). Social structural characteristics of psychological empowerment. Academy of Management Journal, 39(2): 483-504.

SPREITZER, G. M., & Quinn, R. E., 2001. A Company of Leaders: Five Disciplines for Unleashing the Power in your Workforce. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Translated into Chinese by JWS-Hong Kong. Translated into Dutch by Thema B.V.

SUKSOD, P., DANGSUWAN. M., & JERMSITTIPARSERT, K., (2019). Psychological capital to improve perceived farming performance: Role of Agricultural extension knowledge. International Journal of Innovation, Creativity and Change, 7 (2), pp: 73-103.

Thamaga-Chitja, J.M. & Morojele, P., 2014. The context of smallholder farming in South Africa: towards a livelihood asset-building framework. J Human Ecology, 45(2), pp.147-155.

TEILMANN, K., 2012 Measuring social capital accumulation in rural development, Journal of Rural Studies, 28(4), p. 458–465.

TENKASI, R.V.; & CHESMORE, M.C., (2003). Social Networks and Planned Organizational Change: The Impact of Strong Network Ties on Effective Change Implementation and Use. J. Appl. Behav. Sci., 39, p. 281–300.

VAN GRINSVEN, M. & VISSER, M., (2011). Empowerment, knowledge conversion and dimensions of organizational learning. The Learning Organization, 18(5), pp. 378–391.

YOBE. C. L., MUDHARA, M., & MAFONGOYA. P., (2019). Livelihood strategies and their determinants among smallholder farming households in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. Agrion, 58(3), p. 340-353.




How to Cite

Tamako, N., Thamaga-Chitja, J., & Mudhara, M. (2022). An analysis of the effect of knowledge systems on empowerment levels and food security. South African Journal of Agricultural Extension (SAJAE), 50(1), 125–146. Retrieved from