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Innovative farming project scoops two excellence awards in Limpopo

Publication Date: 
Monday, January 18, 2016

The introduction of innovative farming in small-holder irrigation farms in Limpopo, by a team of researchers from the CSIR and the Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (LDARD), scooped two prizes in the recently held Service Excellence Awards of the annual LDARD Awards.

Contact Person

Tendani Tsedu

+27 (0) 12 841 3417

mtsedu@csir.co.za

The introduction of innovative farming in small-holder irrigation farms in Limpopo, by a team of researchers from the CSIR and the Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (LDARD), scooped two prizes in the recently held Service Excellence Awards of the annual LDARD Awards.

The team was awarded 1st prize for Best Service Delivery Team and 3rd Prize for Best Innovation team. The CSIR team consists of principal soil physicist, Dr Nebo Jovanovic, as well as agricultural economist, Dr Constansia Musvoto. The CSIR collaborated with LDARD’s agricultural manager, Dr Jane Tshovhote; chief agricultural resource technician, Daniel Maluleke; senior agricultural advisors, Sophie Ngobeni and Themba Khabe; and agricultural advisor, Tebogo Lebea. The team has also been nominated for the Limpopo Premier awards, which will take place in February 2016.

“The collaboration originated during the European Union project EAU4Food, for which a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the CSIR and LDARD,” says Nebo. The team introduced innovative farming in small-holder irrigation farms in Limpopo: The use of drip irrigation systems to irrigate three vegetable crops per year using improved farming practices, such as high-yielding varieties appealing to the market, scientific irrigation scheduling, fertilisation based on soil analyses and in situ available resources for mulching and organic fertiliser (manure, compost and biochar).

“What made this project unique was the huge increase in crop yield in the context of small farming: From 10 - 20 tons per hectare to 60 - 80 tons per hectare of A grade tomatoes,” says Constansia. “The implementation of a package of innovations to support emerging irrigation farmers, the demonstration of real-world on-farm experiments, the use of resources available in situ on farms such as grasses for mulch, compost and biochar for fertilisation, as well as the active participation of the community through a trans-disciplinary approach, set this project apart.”

Innovative methods deliver measurable impact

A total of 14 primary beneficiaries and families from the Cooperative farm, 41 farmers and families from the Community of Practice benefited directly and/or indirectly from the project.

After adopting innovations on farms, the profit was estimated at R42 486 per 0.16 hectare on demonstration plots (corresponding to R266 000 per ha). The number of jobs supported was 14 primary beneficiaries with eight people employed and an estimated 10 permanent and seasonal secondary jobs per farm.

The farming products were exposed to retail center customers, specifically the Mopani and Giyani SPAR stores. Capacity building was provided to 41 farmers, 14 extension officers and eight stakeholders. Community exposure included 10 learners from a local primary school and three groups of farmers. Community awareness included a presentation at Giyani Community Radio Station, with an estimated audience of 90 000 listeners, as well as five educational circuits with 237 participants.

Well done to the project team!