Most African farmers involved in food production in South Africa; practice peasant farming for consumption and for retail sale in the informal market, local communities and street corners in the cities. These farmers are mainly constrained by different factors which include; lack of basic farm inputs like machineries and fertilizers. They also have limited knowledge of the standard methods of production required to satisfy the genetic requirement of improved seeds that are available in agric shops; and have insufficient access to arable lands. Due to the fact that they are resource poor formers, they lack enough financial input and support from rural extension agencies, with a resultant low yield response. Although, peasant farmers in northern KwaZulu-Natal of South Africa seem to have common challenges in their farming regime, their knowledge within each cluster varies tremendously. Observed variation in farmers’ activities has been reported to affect yield on farmers’ fields and farmers’ knowledge plays an important role in the overall production systems of the communities. This paper highlights the challenges of peasant farmers in a study conducted over a period of nine months on the maize-based farming system of Northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa using a well structured questionnaire. The implication of the study on the future improvement of farming activities in the region is discussed. The result of this study outlined possible ways of improving the crop production systems of the people of the studied area and also opened new research initiatives to better partner with these farmers for improved food production.
Key words: Cropping systems, farmers’ knowledge, food production, Northern KwaZulu Natal, production input, small scale farmers.
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