Characterization of women and youth smallholder agricultural entrepreneur’s in rural irrigation schemes in Vhembe district, South Africa
Keywords:Vhembe District, Geo-physical environment, Irrigated smallholder agricultural enterprise, Madimbo Corridor, Mutale Valley
The purpose of the study was to characterize irrigated smallholder agricultural enterprises (ISAEs) in selected areas of Vhembe District, Limpopo Province. The characterization focused on the geophysical environment and on participants in ISAEs. Precipitation was at most 460mmpa for villages along Madimbo Corridor and 701-1380mmpa for those along Mutale Valley, and temperatures were 38.1℃-44.0℃ (Madimbo) and 30.0℃-40.0℃ (Mutale). Groundwater supplemented surface water and was utilized more at Madimbo Corridor compared to Mutale Valley. The study area was characterized as semi-arid to sub-humid, hence technologies for efficient irrigation should be promoted. Participants in ISAEs were female (94.9%), and adult (52.72%) with low education levels (67.7% ≤ secondary education). The majority (88.65%) were not formally employed (54.61% self-employed, 34.04% full-time farmers). Participants experienced some level of poverty, 68.03 percent received low household incomes (R1001-R5000/month), 77 percent received social grants. Interestingly, the majority (65.31%) stayed in multiple-roomed houses, had cement brick walls, and corrugated iron roofs (54.42%), and all had electricity, a stove, and a fridge. Also, majority-owned radio (96.67%), DSTV (87.45%), vehicles (65.56%), and cellphones. Participants mostly provided adequate food supply (91.84%) with three meals/day (79.38%) except during hard times where 49.56 percent provided fewer meals mostly due to delayed readiness of farm produce. Strategies to empower ISAE participants to be more effective should consider their gender, age, education, and economic status estimated by income, asset ownership, and food security.
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