National Extension Policy
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South African research and development focusing on resource poor farmers

The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has a wide ranging research and development programme with sectoral focuses on:
  • Livestock
  • Field Crops
  • Horticulture
  • Natural Resources 
  • Agricultural engineering
ARC’s 2010/11 annual report states that ARC research sets out to ensure that the agricultural sector is competitive; that national and household food security is achieved and that “resource-poor communities are provided with the necessary knowledge and tools to grow and prosper”.
A scan of the Annual Report highlights a wide range of research and development activity ranging from highly specialised biotechnology research conducted in a world-class biotechnology centre on its Ondersterpoort campus through to more localised and problem focused research which aims to address challenges facing smallholder farmers:
 Recent research and development initiatives targeting resource poor farmers include:
  • A survey of subsistence maize farming systems in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga which identified high incidences of fungal mycotoxins which contaminate both human food and animal feed leading to an awareness programme amongst the rural producers on improved production and storage systems.
  • Design of a drip irrigation system for a 4,6 ha farm for vegetable production in Mukondeni village in Vhembe district of Limpopo.
  • The introduction of citrus, mango, banana, macadamia, guava and litchi trees in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape benefitting more than 2 500 households 
  • The development of an illustrated user- friendly Wheat Production Guideline for Small-Scale Farmer. 
  • An NRF funded 3-year project focusing on the establishment of the Genadendal community as a nindependent producer of honeybush tea. 
  • The development and evaluation of transgenic insect resistant potatoes for rural small-scale, emerging and commercial farmers
  • A project funded by the Department of Science and Technology to conduct demonstration agronomy on indigenous vegetables, medicinal plants and sweet potato in collaboration with rural-based universities. The project sets out to address major nutritional deficiencies in the South African population are vitamin A, iron and zinc through the propagation of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes as well as the indigenous and traditional vegetables which provide substantial amounts of vitamin A.
  • Design of an animal-drawn planter for multi-cropping system for small-scale farmers in the Eastern Cape which makes use of the planter seed bin for maize and the fertiliser bin for beans and pumpkins 
  • A detailed national assessment of land degradation and conservation for different land use classes in all nine provinces which integrated participatory local assessment methods.
  • Research into irrigation use by smallholder farmers in Gauteng which found that 58% of the farms evaluated used fixed irrigation cycles regardless of crop growth stage and type, soil type and climate highlighting that farmers require training in the correct management of irrigation systems in order to improve production and food security. 
  • Basic and action-oriented research into rainwater harvesting and conservation (RWH&C) practices with the assistance of the respective provincial Departments of Agriculture and financial support from the Water Research Commission. 
  • Implementation of an eco-technology programme to promote conservation agriculture (CA) in selected farming communities of Limpopo using an action research farmer field school model involving a season-long training of farmers and extension officers. At least 25 farmer-led trials (experimentation) were also established in each study area to provide the basis of training and the adoption of farming practices and CA technologies by farmers leading to improved farmer networks and innovation systems.
The extension and advisory services policy will review and build on ARC’s experience together with the experiences of extension staff and farmers which interact with the research institutes in order to strengthen the backwards and forwards linkages between research, extension and farmers at different scales. 

Click the image for a view of: ARC research facilities in Potchefstroom
ARC research facilities in Potchefstroom
Posted: 7/26/2012 (5:57:53 AM)


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