Discipline: development; Key words: entrepreneurship, dairy cattle, food security, indigenous knowledge systems.

The authors referenced below did a case study in the local municipality areas of Matatiele and Groblersdal to explore and identify the drivers of dairy smallholder farmer decisions. They found the following as determining factors:

  • dairy farming is dominated by male farmers who were over 60 years old;

  • dairy farming is an economic activity facing a number of challenges for the progression towards commercialization;

  • the farmers depend on indigenous knowledge to maintain their farming practices;

  • the dairy cattle were used for milk production for household consumption and to generate livelihoods through selling milk and milk products, and are therefore regarded as of high economic value in comparison to the beef cattle;

  • beef cattle are considered as of cultural value such as: payment of lobola purposes, to appease ancestors and for draft power;

  • all cattle also contribute animal manure for agriculture;

  • farmers have limited entrepreneurial knowledge and skills necessary for commercial dairy farming;

  • they use medicinal herbs for animal health by incorporating on-farm made supplements in their feeding systems - this is in spite of the fact that there are no written documentation on indigenous knowledge animal health practices;

  • challenges facing farmers include: cattle theft, illnesses, and death of dairy cattle, especially exotic cattle breeds due to lack of adaptation to arid environments, water shortages, limited financial resources, limited training, high cost of feed and lack of pasture due to veld fires, and the milk yield potential of the indigenous breeds they use is low. 


Possible interventions include:                                                                                                   

  • training of farmers in basic management, improving market access and developing entrepreneurial attributes of the farmers;

  • documentation of indigenous knowledge on animal health practices used by small-holder dairy farmers in order to interface with modern veterinary practices for improved animal health;

  • women participation should be promoted by addressing the cultural barriers that limit their land and cattle ownership for commercialisation.


F. K. Tanyanyiwa, U. Kolanisi, M. Chimonyo and C. Banga, 2017. Identification of Entrepreneurial Characteristics of Emerging Smallholder Dairy Farmers: A Case Study of Groblersdal and Matatiele Local Municipalities, South Africa. J Hum Ecol, 57(3): 108-117 .DOI: 10.1080/09709274.2017.1305625.