An assessment of the smal-holder enterprise group (SHEG) programme: A case study of Kafue District

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Ngulube, Stephen
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This study was an assessment of the Small-holder Enterprise Group (SHEG) Programme in Kafue district. Kafue is peripherally located to the south of Lusaka district in Central Province about 45 kilometres. The district receives adequate rainfall, but sometimes experiences dry spells as has been the case in the past few years when drought conditions significantly reduced crop yields. The main occupation is farming and that maize is the main food crop.In order to come up with information on this assessment, the study was guided by one major objective being; to investigate if participation of the small-scale farmers in the programme had significantly addressed their input acquisition, productivity and market accessibility problems as perceived by beneficiaries. In obtaining information to answer this major objective, the following specific objectives were used: Firstly, it aimed at investigate if farmer groups had been linked to the various lenders of inputs by the programme. Secondly it also aimed at assessing the perception of the beneficiaries on their productivity in relation with the sustainable technologies they had adopted. Finally, investigated on whether farmer groups were are able to access the market and market information for their produce through the programme.However, due to a gap in knowledge as to whether SHEG had addressed the problems of the Small-Scale farmers or not from the beneficiaries' point of view? It was, therefore, the principle requirement of this project to give a more critical assessment of the beneficiaries' perception in establishing the efficacy of the SHEG in mitigating their problems; more specifically on input acquisition, market accessibility and with greater emphasis on their productivity (Yield).The main findings were that, participants' perceived the programme as having positively addressed their input acquisition problem. This was shown by 89.4% of the respondents who admitted having received help through the programme in terms of accessing the inputs from the various lenders. Secondly, sustainable technologies increased productivity of the beneficiaries as it was perceived to have accounted for 80.6% of the increase in productivity besides other factors. Lastly, the farmers' access to market and market information had improved tremendously due to participation in the programme. For instance, the programme had scored overwhelming results in terms of addressing the marketing problems of farmers as 96.5% of the captured respondents had a perception that, it was easy to access the market and market information after having joined the programme.These findings would be of great help to the government as well as NGOs involved in Agriculture (CLUSA inclusive) in coming up with tailored interventions in the agriculture sector, that would address the current Small-Scale farmers' problems as sound future investment programmes would be embarked on in order to ease the suffering of the small holder resource poor on an informed basis. In addition, the findings would serve as an instrument to strengthen the capacity of CLUSA in matters such as research for lobby and advocacy purposes for farmers from policy makers (Government) and other NGOs.Based on these findings and conclusions, it was recommended that, the government through the extension officers should investigate alternatives for the supply of seed and other inputs for groups perhaps in collaboration with private sector traders and that, they should also encourage group members in making initial contacts with service organisations. Secondly, farmers should be encouraged to continue using sustainable technologies in order to further improve their general productivity. Extension officers should be able to also give 100% of their attention to supervision and training of farmer groups. Lastly, consideration of a project to introduce and support the use of community radio which should specifically air agriculture related programmes is key to successful growth of the agriculture sector in this area. This type of communication could be very useful for fanner groups to communicate and share experiences and knowledge with each other. Furthermore, Market day arrangements should be further encouraged and perhaps they have to occur frequently so that farmers' easily sell their produce without being exploited by the bogus buyers as they will have full to partial full control of the market than as individual sellers.
Small-holder enterprise group , Kafue District_Zambia