A Review of Support Services for Smallholder and Small-scale Agricultural Producers

This thematic paper forms part of a series which explore specific commodities, crosscutting themes and related municipal case studies. The papers provide background research for the development of policy proposals to promote an approach to land reform which amplifies job creation and enhances livelihood security. The paper examines the contribution made by support services to grow market-oriented smallholder production and identifies what needs change to make these services more effective and efficient. Section 1 provides a brief background to the study and sets out the key research objectives and framing questions. Section 2 provides important context and reviews the evolution of contemporary support and extension approaches from the early 1990s until the present day. It summarises the key policy instruments including white papers and proposed norms and standards for agricultural extension and advisory services. Section 3 details the range of past and present initiatives which have sought to provide access to support services in different settings. This section critically evaluates some of the programmes which have been delivered in the former bantustan areas. Section 4 interrogates the effectiveness of the services outlined in Section 3. It examines the specific problems experienced by government extension services which include continued adherence to outmoded models of extension, inadequate linkages between research extension and producers on the ground; capacity constraints and costs, which mean that individual extension agents often provide expensive services with questionable impact. Section 5 cautions that there are no single stories, when trying to characterise the success or failure of extension and support services. Section 6 reviews the recommendations for improved and better aligned support services emerging from the reports of the High Level Panel and the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform. 2 Section 7 sets out the institutional and capacity requirements for effective extension, institutional development, production support systems and market access. Finally, Section 8 examines proposals for an alternative approach to the sourcing of support services, premised on a locality-based, local municipality focused planning and implementation framework.