Smallholder Agriculture

Smallholder farmers and their participation in global value chains

Recent estimates suggest that there are more than 570 million farms in the world. Of these, more than 475 million are smaller than 2ha, commonly referred to as smallholdings. Even though these smallholder farms only utilise approximately 12% of global agricultural land, smallholder farms are estimated to directly and indirectly support a population of more than 2 billion people (Lowder et al. 2016; Goldman et al. 2016), whilst IFAD (2013) estimate that about 2.5 billion people are employed, partially or entirely, in 500 million small farms worldwide. Smallholder farms therefore play a critical role in food security, poverty reduction and sustainable development for a very large proportion of rural populations, globally. Read more

Fruitlook

Managing your farm with Fruitlook

We all know South African farmers operate within a challenging environment, where the short and long-term viability of an operation entails picking a path through a multitude of production pressures. Some of these include rising input costs; competition for scarce water resources; and the challenges associated with a changing climate. Fruitlook, an online remote-sensing platform, can make the management of these pressures easier and more effective. Read more

Tree hog

Louis Loubser’s ‘Tree Hog’

Earlier this month I visited Louis Loubser’s farm just outside of Robertson in the Breede Valley. Louis is the man behind the ‘Tree Hog’ – a simple, but extremely effective invention that can bring about considerable reductions in on-farm water and energy use! Read more

Management intensive grazing

The Passion behind ‘Farmer Angus’

Angus McIntosh – the previous London-based finance professional turned livestock farmer. Not a ‘gewone’ farmer, but a razor sharp and enthusiastic farmer that has steadfastly plotted his course against the grain of convention. For those of you that don’t know, Angus is the man behind Spier’s pasture-raised livestock and the ‘Farmer Angus’ name.   Read more

Agroecology

Agroecology – the who’s who

What is agroecology? Agroecology is defined as “the application of ecological concepts to the design and management of sustainable agro-ecosystems” (Silici, 2014). The principles of agroecology are increasingly gaining traction as a means to building agri system sustainability and resilience, reducing dependence on costly chemical inputs, and building productivity at the farm level through the production of a diverse range of products (Silici, 2014). Read more

JD Kirsten's recycling collection igloos

JDK’s interesting household recycling initiative!

Arguably the most important step to driving any environmental initiative is to change behaviour. As with recycling, it is simply difficult to increase recycling rates without increasing  the rate at which recyclables are collected at both the household and company levels, requiring a change in behaviour by both you and I. JD Kirsten, realising the potential wider gains from improved rates of recycling, have adopted a novel approach to onboard its farm workers. Read more

Nudging the way to change

‘Nudging’ the way to change

Having recently read the book ‘Nudge’ by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, I became intrigued by the potential for ‘nudge’ solutions to environmental challenges, some of which are described in the book. Read more

SA's Carbon Tax

SA’s draft carbon tax legislation and carbon offset regulations: How will it work?

Subsequent to the ratification of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, we need to prepare to operate in a carbon constrained economy over the medium to long term. This was emphasised by National Treasury in a press release on the 10th of November 2016. A business as usual scenario is no longer an option. Read more

Management intensive grazing

What meat should I be eating?

Informed consumers globally would doubtlessly have asked themselves this question at some stage. Meat and dairy production invariably top the list of production systems when discussing environmental hotspots of agriculture. When dealing with sustainability and livestock, a discussion of whether we should eat meat or not, and if we do which type, is inescapable. Read more

Analysis of Western Cape dam levels

Western Cape dam levels: 15% by April 2017?

Since the winter of 2014, the Western Cape region has been in the midst of a significant and worsening drought. The winter rains of 2015 and 2016 have done little to offer relief, and as of the beginning of November 2016, the City of Cape Town entered into Level 3 Water Restrictions, and the agricultural operations of the Western Cape continue to face substantial water-related risks. In this piece, I take a look at the historical levels of the major dams in the Western Cape, and what these might mean for the province’s municipal and agricultural water resources in 2017. Read more