Analysis of entrepreneurial behaviour of smallholder irrigation farmers: empirical evidence from Qamata irrigation scheme

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University of Fort Hare


Albeit much effort having been put to review the performance trend of smallholder irrigation farmers in South Africa. However, there seems to be a paucity of information regarding the level of entrepreneurship on these farmers. Most research works on smallholder irrigation farmers have mainly focused on livelihoods trajectory providing a review on how the welfare of the rural poor has been transformed after the introduction of irrigation schemes. With most research evidence indicating a high degree of underperformance on most smallholder irrigation schemes, this research attempted to investigate the level of entrepreneurship among the small holder irrigation farmers. In order to achieve the main research objective, a sample of 110 farmers drawn from Qamata irrigation scheme was interviewed and each farmer’s performance on the nine components of entrepreneurship was assessed. The aspects assessed to determine the farmer’s entrepreneurial behaviour were: planning ability, risk taking, achievement motivation, leadership ability, Cosmo politeness, decision making, and innovativeness and farming knowledge. Basing on previous studies which indicated entrepreneurial behaviour to be influenced by several factors the study also analysed the determinants of entrepreneurship among the irrigation farmers and a binary logistic regression model was used to establish the connection between various independent variables and the farmers’ entrepreneurial performance given as a total score of the nine components. Though the findings of the study revealed a prevalently low level of entrepreneurship among the smallholder irrigation farmers on Qamata irrigation scheme, a high proportion of the respondent farmers (65.5% and 60.5%) showed to have a high degree of achievement motivation and decision making ability, respectively. The observed trend thus reflected that smallholder farmers have a potential to become entrepreneurs and are willing to succeed. The binary model results revealed that the prevailing land tenure system will be a strong determinant of the farmer’s level of entrepreneurship. Equally, levels of training in farming, motive for farming and information seeking tendency also proved to have a significant influence on the degree of farmer entrepreneurship. Based on the results of this study recommendations have thus been drawn on the need for policies and practices aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and not dependency among farmers. Key focus areas identified include: the need to revise the current land tenure system on irrigation schemes, intensify on entrepreneurship training for both farmers and extension officers and regular on-farm training on new technologies.



smallholder irrigation scheme, entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial behaviour, entrepreneur, smallholder farmer