Utilisation of Digital Technologies by Smallholder Farmers in South Africa


  • N.V. Bontsa
  • A. Mushunje
  • S. Ngarava
  • L. Zhou


Perception, Awareness, Constraints, Digital Technology, Perceptions


The study's objective was to assess the utilisation of digital technologies by smallholder farmers, focusing on the types of digital technologies they use, their awareness and perceptions, and the constraints they face. The study used a systematic literature review design. The results show that there has been an increase in studies focussing on using digital technologies by smallholder farmers in South Africa.  The focus has been on e-readiness, tools, and constraints in assisting smallholder farmers amongst extension workers, mainly from North West, KwaZulu-Natal, and Eastern Cape Provinces. Relevant topics have been smart farming, digital agriculture, adoption, and climate change.  However, smallholder digital technology studies in South Africa have transitioned from small-scale agriculture and extension between 2012 and 2014 to transformation, food security and perception between 2014 and 2018, and innovations, communication technologies, and dissemination, more recently. Recent studies have focused on the productivity-enhanced adoption of ICTs, with various technologies used along the complexity spectrum. However, smallholder farmers have concentrated on low-tech digital technologies on the lower end of the complexity spectrum because they are more aware of them. End-user, service provider, and digital technology characteristics have constrained the use of digital technologies. In conclusion, smallholder farmers are aware of and use low-tech digital technologies limited by inherent internalised characteristics of the farmers themselves and the digital technologies.


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Author Biographies

A. Mushunje

Senior lecturer  in the department of economics & extension University of Fort Hare 

S. Ngarava

 Postdoc in the  Department of Risk and Vulnerability Science Center. 

L. Zhou

Dr Zhou is the Director of Risk and Vulnerability Science Centre (RVSC) hosted in the Faculty of Science & Agriculture, at the University


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How to Cite

Bontsa, N., Mushunje, A., Ngarava, S., & Zhou, L. (2023). Utilisation of Digital Technologies by Smallholder Farmers in South Africa . South African Journal of Agricultural Extension (SAJAE), 51(4), 104–146. Retrieved from https://sajae.co.za/article/view/15337