Innovation policy change and inclusive agricultural innovation in South Africa

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Agricultural innovation by both commercial and smallholder farmers is useful to economic growth and sustainability. In South Africa and many other developing countries, smallholder farmers make up the majority of farmers. The smallholder farmers face different challenges such as water scarcity and climate change. For this reason, farmers engage in different forms of innovation activities at a small scale. This study applied a combination of inclusive growth and inclusive innovation concepts as a lens to explore innovation policy and ways to promote inclusive agricultural innovation in small scale agriculture. This study adopts a qualitative method to analyse data. The study used primary data and also policy documents analysis. Primary data was gathered through semistructured interviews which were conducted with smallholder farmers, who serve as the primary participants and key informants for the study. A randomised selection was done to recruit thirty study participants from Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Data analysis made use of a cross-case analysis from the two areas in order to understand the constraints of innovation in the small-scale agricultural sector. The key findings for the study reveal that small-scale innovators in the agricultural sector are hindered by lack of resources, funding, and access to innovative technologies. These challenges negatively affect up-scaling of innovations and participation in valuable markets. The implications of the findings suggest that smallholder farmers must be supported in order to successfully execute innovative activities. The support includes having strategies and programs to provide the required resources to improve innovative capabilities of farmers. Policymakers need to revise and redesign policies that enable smallholder farmers to operate. Stakeholders in the NSI should provide interventions that support the specific needs of smallholder farmers to be functional and profitable. The study aspires to contribute to understanding innovation among smallholder farmers in South Africa through investigating the manner in which changes to the innovation policy in South Africa could promote smallholder farmer agricultural innovations that contribute to food security, job creation, and the burden of diseases in the agriculture sector.
A research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Management in Innovation Studies to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, Wits Business School, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2022
Actor networks, National System of Innovation (NSI), Inclusive growth