AS  Vol.12 No.11 , November 2021
Characterization of Farming Systems Using Land as a Driver of Production and Sustainability in the Vhembe District, Limpopo, South Africa
Abstract: South African agricultural farming systems are characterised by a duality in which there exists large-scale commercial farmers and small-scale farmers. Large-scale commercial farmers, historically identified as capital intensive and characterized by the size of the landholdings, are considered as the main drivers of national food security. Small-scale farmers on the other hand are viewed as important drivers of food security at the household level. These two main farming systems can be found within the Vhembe district municipality of the Limpopo Province and are characterised differently according to land descriptors. The study used an analysis of primary data obtained from in-depth interviews and secondary data obtained from an agricultural database to identify and characterize large- and small-scale farming systems within the Vhembe district. The study examined the land resource namely farm size and land ownership, topography and soil description, rainfall and its variability and threats and hazards used under three different high value crop (HVC) commodities, macadamia nuts, mangos and avocado pears. The study further examined yield and income from farming as drivers of production that would ensure the sustainability of long-term food security at both national and household level. The study revealed that gender of farmers within the farming systems was predominantly (79%) male across all commodities. Age distribution results showed an aging population of farmers mostly (90%) above the age of 51. Communal land ownership was the dominant (74%) land ownership amongst participants. Yield is not solely dependent on farm size and requires consideration of a broader array of land management aspects. There was a strong, significant correlation between income and farm size. These factors have implications for sustainability of the two farming systems and illustrate how certain aspects of land as a driver of production such as land ownership, rainfall variability, yield and income from farming can impact sustainability.
Cite this paper: Materechera, F. and Scholes, M. (2021) Characterization of Farming Systems Using Land as a Driver of Production and Sustainability in the Vhembe District, Limpopo, South Africa. Agricultural Sciences, 12, 1352-1373. doi: 10.4236/as.2021.1211087.

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