A development project at the University of Fort Hare, aimed at producing vegetables and other cash crops on a commercial basis using draught animals and a small low cost irrigation plant, has produced realistic figures, which indicate that small scale farmers, cultivating from one to five hectares under this system can realise a substantial net profit and an annual income, which will allow them an adequate living standard.
The project, which has been run in a manner similar to the communal grazing system combined with small cultivated lands which is practiced in the communities surrounding the Fort Hare University, has shown that with comparatively low initial investment costs and minor running costs, such a system ensures that a small scale farmer can keep loan repayments down and realize substantial net profits on his cash crops as a result.
The project, which has been operating for two years has had a strong developmental bias and has resulted in useful data being collected, which in turn has indicated the practicalities of farming in this way and furthermore has revealed the potential of the system for enabling small scale farmers to make a reasonable living.
Joubert, B.; Simalenga, T.B. Mechanising agriculture using animal traction and small-scale irrigation. In: Empowering Farmers with Animal Traction. Proceedings of the workshop of the Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (ATNESA) held 20-24 September, Mpumalanga, South Africa. (2000) 249-253. ISBN 0907146104