The Integrated Livestock and Crop Farming Systems were established as a partnership between the National and Eastern Cape Departments of Agriculture, the Presidential Project Task Team, the National Wool Growers' Association, the Grootfontein Small Stock Centre and the Agricultural Research Council. The project aims to address the problem of rural poverty by facilitating effective use of local resources, namely agricultural production and marketing. It is an ongoing resource for training, establishing and supporting African farmers, targeting in particularly wool producing farmers and households, as well as pastoral animal and crop producing communities.
The project operates in 19 communities, each of which consists of 50 villages. Small-scale farmers are taught skills in agricultural production, marketing and improved animal and crop management through direct involvement, demonstrations and field days. In addition, the project has set up systems to empower communities to form their own agricultural management structures.
The project provides focus on agriculture for food production, which has direct benefits for households in the community, not only in food security, but in income generation and job creation, as the turnover is used to assist the community as a whole. The work with wool farmers has succeeded in introducing the basic infrastructure of shearing sheds to the targeted communities, which has seen an impressive improvement in dipping, shearing and stock quality, and increased enthusiasm and optimism among the farmers.
There are many concrete benefits from the project. Thirty-two shearing sheds, which are also used as training facilities, are spread throughout the area; wool sales have increased by as much as 500%; 30% more jobs are available in wool production and 6 000 farmers have received practical training in aspects of sheep farming. In one community, the farmers have diversified into a ram-breeding project.
An indirect benefit of the project has been a shift in attitude amongst the communities to agriculture as an income generator, with a reduction in dependence on welfare. Increased capital has also encouraged other income generating activities; outlets for products such as local cloth, jewelry and carved art objects have been set up. In all these initiatives, local community structures are enabled to play a leadership role.
"There is an increasing entrepreneurial spirit emerging as people begin to see farming not just as a viable way to survive, but also as a means to generate wealth. There has been a reduction of dependence on welfare, and an increasing sense of optimism and pride is evident" Derrick Swart, Project coordinator
Innovation: A collaborative approach to provide training and information to small-scale farmers, and through results-driven interventions, to create attitudes of optimism and enthusiasm amongst farmers who did not consider agriculture as income generating.