Nuffic Cases of Joint Experimentation Outcomes

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Cases of Joint Experimentation - Outcomes and Lessons Learnt
August 2015 to July 2016
1 PID report authors ................................................................................................................................1
2 Background to the project ....................................................................................................................1
3 Case 1: An innovation in prolonging brooding in hens in order to increase productivity in indigenous
chickens .........................................................................................................................................................2
4 Case 2: Sinethemba PID egg production experiment...........................................................................9
5 Case 3: Joint experimentation with Agroforestry systems for the improvement of fodder production
in smallholder farming systems in Zwelisha, Bergville ...............................................................................13
6 Case 4: Ntenetyana natural resources management rehabilitation: Pilot 2015/16 ...........................17
7 Case 5: Eastern Cape, Participatory innovation development pilot: exploration of weed
management processes in the CA-SFIP conservation agriculture experimentation ..................................25
8 Case 6: Testing of sweet potato varieties under different soil fertility sources to identify the most
preferred variety by farmers.......................................................................................................................33
9 Case 7: Comparing broiler rearing systems to identify the prefered method for smallscale farmers 53
Appendix 1: Minah Yende’s Household......................................................................................................58
Appendix 2: Phakamile Zondo ....................................................................................................................59
Appendix 3: Phumzile Phakathi’s household..............................................................................................60
Appendix 4: PID poster prepared to facilitate sharing ...............................................................................61
Appendix 5 Boiler Daily record sheet..........................................................................................................63
Appendix 6: Broiler cycle yield sheet ..........................................................................................................64
Appendix 7: Broiler sales record sheet .......................................................................................................65
Case 1: Prolonging brooding in hens in
order to increase productivity in
indigenous chickens
Farmer Support Group
Case 2: Sinethemba egg production
Institute of Natural
Institute of Natural
Resources (intern)
Case 3: Joint experimentation with
Agroforestry systems for the
improvement of fodder production in
smallholder farming systems
Institute of Natural
Resources (intern)
Institute of Natural
Case 4: Ntenetyana natural resources
management rehabilitation
Lima Rural
Case5: Exploration of weed
management processes in the CA-SFIP
conservation agriculture
experimentation in EC.
Case 6: PID implementation in
Kwazulu-Natal: NGoba, Emaswazini
and Nkandla
Case 7: Comparing broiler rearing
systems to identify the preferred
broiler rearing method for small scale
Through their Tailor-made Training Programme, Nuffic has made fundingavailable to Mahlathini
Organics to work with KIT (The Dutch Royal Tropical Institute) and the Institute of Natural Resources
(INR) to provide a training and mentorship programme that builds capacity in undertakingjoint
Joint experimentation, sometimes known as participatory innovation development (PID) is seen as an
effective mechanism to develop solutions that are appropriate to the local environment rather than
introducing solutions from outside, which often do not fit the social and physical context.
PID, which gives recognition to different sources of knowledge and idea (farmers, scientists,
practitioners, market agents, etc.), stimulates innovative behaviour amongst stakeholders. It recognises
and builds on the innovative capacity of farmers, but draws on other sources of knowledge too.
The Nuffic initiative comprised a 5-day training event followed by an implementation and mentorship
component and then ending with a 3-day feedback session. The five day training workshop was
conducted from 17 21 August 2015, attended by 24 participants from five Non-Governmental
Organizations namely: LIMA Rural Development Foundation, SaveAct, Farmer Support Group, Zimele,
Institute of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Okhahlamba
District Office. The five day session covered the theory of joint experimentation and other participatory
approaches used for determining research needs and designing and evaluating trials.
After the PID workshop in August 2015, each of the organisations was allocated funds to run a PID
project with smallholder farmer in communities with whom they work. There PID projects were funded
by Nuffic and the funds were channelled through the Institute of Natural Resources. A feedback
workshop was held in Pietermaritzburg at African Enterprise from 11 -13 April 2016. The aim of this
feedback session was for each participating organisation to give feedback of the type of innovations
they have implemented.
This report is a consolidation of the final reports prepared by each of the organisations that received
funding through the Nuffic initiative for PID activities.
3.1Background and introduction
Eradicating food insecurityremains one of the major challenges affecting rural households in South
Africa. In KwaZulu-Natal, rural communities form the majority of the population and are characterized
by high levels of poverty, lack of access to basic services and dependency on social grants in order to
survive. Small scale agricultural production is practiced to improve food security and rural farmers are
often seeking to diversify their livelihoods for increased income. Still, agricultural production in rural
areas is practiced at the back drop of erratic weather conditions, poor soils, theft and limited resources.
Small scale farming systems often succumb to sudden shocks due to limited knowledge on how to
address them and lack of access to resources (Tarwireyi and Fanadzo, 2013). Many rural farmers rely on
indigenous knowledge practices and this knowledge often evolves, is lost or modified over time with
new cultural practices and norms.
Increased access to healthy and sufficient food remains at the forefront of many development
interventions and with time, a moreinclusive bottom up approach has been adopted. Participatory
Innovation Development (PID) is an example of a bottom up approach that recognizes indigenous
knowledge whereby rural farmers are not just recipients of technologies but are innovators and
custodians of their own transformation. PID lays emphasis on equal participation by farmers and
recognises different sources of information (formal research, extension, farmers) wherebyfarmers can
question and modify experiments conducted in their fields using indigenous knowledge and own
experiences in order to attain improved results.
The Institute for Natural Resources (INR) conducted a workshop on PID where the main focus was on
farmer led joint experimentation and participation. In order to test PID in the field FSG, in partnership
with INR sought to identify local innovation(s) that could be tested and improved together with farmers.
One innovation was identified in Busingatha, Bergville whereby a farmer had a unique method of rearing
indigenous chickens in order to increase productivity.
Indigenous chickens are chickens kept under free range on which no breed selection or improvement by
cross breeding has been done. The chickens form an important part of family life in rural households
providing a source of meat and eggs and playing important cultural roles. They are known for their good
mothering abilities, survival under harsh conditions due totheir ability to scavenge for food and low
input requirements which make them a viable production system for economically constrained
households. Rural chickens, as they are alternatively known have low production potential due to
constant exposure to risks that jeopardize productivity. Constraints in indigenous chicken production
include diseases, predators and poor nutrition (Justus et al, 2013).However, productivity can be
increased if management is improved and the innovation from Busingatha provides a way in which
increased productivity can be achieved. This report serves to give final update on the process that took
place in testing the innovation with farmers.
3.2.1Focus group discussion
A focus group discussion (FGD) was held with group members in Busingatha to gain insight on the
traditional way of poultry production and to introduce the innovation. From the meeting it came to light
that most of the farmers owned indigenous chickens but had no specific management system as they let
the chickens scavenge throughout the day for food and water. Some farmers scattered yellow maize
once in the morning, thereafter letting the chickens out for the rest of the day. Indigenous chickens
were kept for meat and eggs and used in some cultural practices.
According to Tariweryi and Fanadzo (2013), rural households experience difficulties in rearing
indigenous chickens due toconstraints such as predation and poor nutrition amongst others. In
Busingatha, challenges included temperature extremes, i.e., freezing temperatures in winter andhot
temperatures in summer, thus resulting in high mortality rates of chicks. In addition, eggs rot in summer
due toexcessive heat. Newcastle disease was identified as the most prevalent and caused the highest
level of mortalities among chickens. Eye infections and foot rot were among the common diseases.
Mosquitoes and mites were identified as major disease vectors in summer. The chickens, when kept
outside often fall prey topredators. The farmers did not consider chickens as a significant source of
income but rather as a supplementary source of food for the household. They sold or exchanged them
with neighbours, once in a while, to prevent inbreeding.
Mayende, the farmer who came up with the innovation described a unique way of rearing indigenous
chickens, whereby hens incubate eggs for 42 instead of 21 days and one hen is selected to raise chicks.
The purpose of this type of management is to increase the number of chickens in a short period of time.
The innovation was tested with Mayende and two other farmers from Busingatha community. The
farmers were the following:
a)Mama Zondo
b)Phumzile Phakathi
3.2.2PID experimental design
Each of the three household participating in the PID experiment had a total of four hens placed inside a
hut (innovation treatment), and another four hens placed outside (traditional/control practice).
Control (refer Table 1 below)
Four indigenous hens: In this treatment the hens were managed and bred in the conventional/
traditional method.
Innovation (outlined in Table 1 below)
Four indigenous hens in this treatment the hens were managed and bred using MaYendes’ innovation.
Feed was provided for chickens under the innovation and the chickens in the control were fed with
household maize.
Table 1: Outline of Experiment
3.2.3Brooding “sitting on eggs” (refer to Appendix 1, 2 and 3)
At laying stage (from each household) hens laid eggs in nests for a period of three to four weeks.
The eggs were continuously collected and placed away.
As the hens turned broody, four were placed inside the house, to start incubation.
Of the four hens, the hen with the first set of chicks to hatch became the “mother hen” to all the
other chicks. In other words, all chicks from other hens were given to this “mother hen”. Therefore,
the mother hen sat on eggs for 21 days only.
The remainingthree hens sat on eggs for 42 days as they hatched two clutches of eggs, with the
second clutch placed just after the first batch had hatched. This was done during the night, so that
when daylight came, the hen remained inside the nest.
At the end of the 42 days, these three hens were returned to the rest of the flock.
Returning the hens to the flock eliminated the periodof raising chicks as they started laying eggs
soon after thus beginning the cycle again.
3.2.4Raising chicks (one hen)
Once the first clutches of eggs were hatched, the hen was placed in a dairy crate with her chicks. Chicks
were continuouslyplaced under the crate as they hatched from the other hens. This was carried out at
night in order toprevent the hen from attacking young chicks. As the younger chicks came in, the older
chicks were put in larger crates, which were placed outside during the day toexpose the birds to
sunlight. This was done until the chicks were old enough to be weaned.
Figure 1: Set up of experiment (hens placed inside as they turned brood.
C1 I1
C2 I2
C3 I3
C4 I4
8 hens
8 hens
8 hens
8 Hens
Table 2: List of Activities from September 2015 to July 2016
TIMEFRAME (September 2015-July 2016)
1.Focus group discussion, identification of households and
setting up of PID
2.Purchase of supplies- feed, feeding trays, crates,
vaccinations, drinkers, nests
3.Continuous collection of eggs from nests
4.Placing of hens inside house at onset of broodiness
5.Eggs returned to nests at onset of broodiness (daily
6.Chicks separated from hens after hatching (monitoring of
7.New clutch of eggs placed in nests (counting number of eggs
hatched/number of eggs set)
8.Continuous observations, diseases, parasites, broody
behavior, chick integration etc.
9.PID Presentation
10.Presentation at Farmer’s forum
11.Three households in Obonjaneni identified to test innovation
12.Farmer Learning and sharing session
13.Site visits to Obonjaneni
14.Purchase of inputs(dairy craters, chicken coops and
15.Farmer Learning and sharing session (site visits to
16.Farmer Learning Event
Table 3: The Innovation and Control Treatments in each Household (10 January 2016- 10 April 2016)
The table above shows the results of the innovation and control treatments. In the innovation
treatment 3 hens in Mayende’s household and 2 hens in Ms. Zondo and Ms. Phakathi’s households
remained broody for 42 days. In Ms. Zondo and Ms. Phakathis’s household the remaining hens
became un-broody when the second clutch of eggs was placed. In the control treatment, the hens
became un-broody and left the nests, due to disturbances from dogs and the heat. In Mazondo and
Mayende’s household, the hens that remained broody in the control, incubated their eggs in
secluded areas in the veld, by the garden or on a tree. The hatch rate was low, between 51% and
63% due to the high number of eggs going rotten under the hot and humid conditions. Chick
mortality was initially low but increased after the summer rains due to an outbreak of
Staphylococcus infection where chloriprim was administered to treat the infection. The number of
chicks in the innovation increased at a faster rates than those in the control, however this resulted in
a higher feed cost. At the end of phase one of the PID the number of chickens in the innovation
treatment was considerably larger than in the control treatment in all three households.
3.3.1Observations by farmers
The number of chickens increased over a short period of time as the innovation eliminated the
period of raising chicks for the broody hens. After the second clutch of eggs hatched, the hens were
placed outside with a rooster so they could start laying eggs.
Semi-intensive management allowed for increased protection of chickens from predators and closer
monitoring of diseases.
Minah Yende
Phakamile Zondo
Phumzile Phakathi
Initial number
of hens
Final number of
Hatch rate
Mortality rate
High ≥15
Low ≥ 5
Moderate ≥10
Low ≥ 5
Low ≥ 5
No of chicks
Staph. hyicus
infection and
round worms
No signs of
hyicus infection
and round
and round
Farmers noted that in terms of behavioral patterns, hens that had good mothering abilities
accepted chicks from other hens easily and were able toraise them until weaning age. Hens that did
not have good mothering abilities were aggressive and more likely to abandon the chicks altogether.
As the chicks grew in number and size, the crates became too small toaccommodate them and the
cost of feed increased.
Innovation requires a housing structure in order to work and requires time and labor, compared to
the traditional way of rearing chickens.
3.4Rolling out innovation
3.4.1Presentation at Farmers’ Forum
The findings from the PID pilot were presented at the farmers’ forum in Bergville in April 2016 and
farmers from Obonjaneni and Mlimeleniexpressed interest in testing it in their households. Three
farmers from Obonjaneni came forward and they are the following:
a)Ellen Moloi
b)Maria Mbhele
c)Thembi Mlangeni
3.4.2Farmer learning session
A farmer learning and sharing session was held in Busingatha where farmers from Obonjaneni were
also present. The session was an information exchange session where the farmers from Busingatha
explained the innovation and demonstrated how they implemented it in their households.
Obonjaneni farmers shared that they had heard about innovations in poultry production before,
particularly when it came to changing feed type to increase productivity. The Obonjaneni farmers
had also tried other techniques such as separating chicks from hens so the hens could start laying
eggs but had never heard about swopping chicks in the early hours/late in the evening. The session
ended with visits to the PID sites in Busingatha where more discussions took place and the
Busingatha farmers shared their lessons. One of the points highlighted was that previously farmers
believed that only industrial chickens required intensive management. However, taking part in the
PID showed them that improved management in terms of feed, housing and disease control can
increase productivity in indigenous chickens.
3.4.3Local learning event
The local learning event was held in Obonjaneni on 06 July 2016 and was hosted by FSG. The
purpose of the eventwas to present PID pilots and disseminate knowledge on the identified
innovations. The event was attended by community members from aMazizi and aMangwane areas,
INR, LIMA and Philakahle and had a total of 60 people. FSG farmers from Busingatha presented on
the innovation in indigenous chickens. The farmers were initially reluctant to take part in the PID as
it seemed labour intensive however after testing the innovation, found that the number of chickens
increased. Farmers shared the challenges and highlights of the PID and an information brochure was
handed out (Refer Appendix 4). INR presented on agroforestry carried out in Zwelisha which focused
on determining the effect of alley cropping of pastures with leguminous trees to increase fodder
productivity and conducted a site visit with aMangwane farmers to Zwelisha. During feedback, one
point that was highlighted was that intercropping forage with trees contributes towards enhanced
soil fertility and trees provide shelter for the cattle. The PID sought to find a way to address the
shortage of adequate forage during the dry winter months. If implemented successfully this type of
cropping system can serve as a dual source of income. Mr Mduba fromPotshini presented on
planting potatoes in bags using organic and inorganic methods and comparing it toplanting on the
ground. Due to heat and water stress the potatoes did not produce a yield.
Figure 2: Local Learning Event, Obonjaneni, Bergville
In conclusion, the aimof PID is to discover new and improved ways of farming in response to
changing climatic conditions and to disseminate the new knowledge.
Potshini is a communal tenure rural community in the lower Drakensberg, in the greaterEmmaus
area. It falls within the Bergville town and the Okhahlamba Local Municipality. Around 200 families
live in the community. Public infrastructure includes electricity, sanitation, community hall a primary
and secondary school and a small post office. Sinethemba Youth Club was convened six years ago to
respond to the deepening poverty, food insecurity and increased burden of people living with
HIV/AIDS in Potshini. Through this intervention a soup kitchen, supported by the Department of
Social Development has been set up in the area. Home based care volunteers support this operation.
The idea of this experiment started when Mr Madondo and the members of the Sinethemba youth
club wanted toproduce eggs that will feed in to the soup kitchen. However, they wanted to find a
cheaper way of producing eggs by feeding them yellow maize. Yellow maize was known to be
cheaper than the layers mash, so at the beginning of the project 50kg of yellow maize was R90 and
laying mash was R145. Mr Madondo wanted to have free range layers that are fed yellow maize and
to aid with egg production; he proposed to put a rooster with them. When he presented this idea in
the PID training, he was advised that it is not necessary toput a rooster, layers can produce eggs
without a rooster, the rooster is only necessary if the eggs need to be fertilised.
4.2Experimental design
There were two groups of layers:
10 layers were fed with mash and kept in the cage.
Another ten (10) layers were fed crushed yellow maize and kept on a free range system in a
fenced garden (
Figure 3B).
Figure 3 (A): Layers in a cage fed laying mash; (B) Layers kept in a free range system and fed yellow
At the beginning of the project there were ten layers on both sides (caged and free range). Three
layers from the free range side died, hence there was an imbalance, Zanele and Zinhle fromINR
advised that Mr Madondoremoves three layers on the cage treatmentso that there willbe a fair
comparison. In the first two days the chickens in both treatments laid eggs similarly. However, as
time went the farmer started seeing a drop in the number of eggs laid by the chickens in the free
range system. He started investigating; he closed all the possible spaces that could allow the entry of
dogs because he suspected that they might be eating the eggs. So he started searching for the eggs
and realized that the chickens are hiding eggs. He spotted the areas in which the eggs were laid and
that’s where he would go to collect them. The chickens in the cages were consistent with laying
eggs; Mr Madondo would get eggs in the morning and later in the afternoon. The free range
chickens were very inconsistent; sometimes he would find three eggs and some day he would find
five eggs and some days he would find nothing at all.
Mr Madondo then decided that since with the free range chickens there are so many factors that
affect egg production, he decided to give both treatments the same feed, he fed them yellow maize.
The chickens in the cage started to reduce their egg production gradually until there were no eggs at
all. He kept on feedingthem yellow maize and there were no eggs for about two weeks. After this
period, he started seeing eggs again, but they would lay one egg per chicken and then theywould
not lay for about four days and then lay again. These observations made Mr Madondo realize that
yellow maize is not good for egg production.
Initially when the project was at a planning stage, people were very keen to participate on
the project; however, when the project started people were dragging their feet’s and Mr
Madondo ended up working alone. This was a challenge in terms of data collection because
Mr Madondo was working during the day. Although he would ask his kids to look after the
experiment, sometimes they didn’t record ifthey have collected the eggs andthere would
be no money either to show that the eggs were sold.
The free range chickens are prone to dogs and crows; the eggs were being eaten because
they were not laid in a secure place. This interrupted the data collection because the farmer
didn’t know if the chickens didn’t lay eggs or they were eaten by crows/dogs. The farmer
ended up feeding his dogs the layers mash, as he realised that they were attracted by it.
Thereafter the dogs stopped interfering with his experiment.
Free range chicken doesn’tlike tolay their eggs in designated nests instead they hide them
from crows and dogs; however, it becomes a problem to find these eggs.
Figure 4: Shows the eggs laid in the napier fodder in the garden
The cage is flat on the bottom, when chickens lay eggs they sit with them and get spoiled
by chicken droppings (Figure 5). This adds an extra job of washing the eggs before taking
them to the market.
Figure 5 : Showing where eggs sit in the cage and how they look after collection
Initially before the experiment begun, Madondo had a small chicken house that he used to keep
layers. He removed the layers from the cage and took them back to this house. He created
basins/nests where the chickens lay and go, and with this method, the eggs are always clean.
Figure 6 : Shows how the chickens are kept outside the cage and where they lay eggs
The feed prices increased dramatically,yellow maize price went up and became way more expensive
than the layers mash (Table 4). The purpose of the project became irrelevant at this point because
yellow maize was not cheap anymore.
Table 4: Feed prices from December 2015 to February 2016
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
Yellow maize (50kg)
Layer mash (50kg)
Yellow maize proven not to be good for egg production and therefore could not be used as a
cheaper option for feeding layers.
Poor condition of grazing areas in communal areas during the dry season, has led to smallholder
farmers exploring option for including fodder production in the farming systems. Mr Mbhele, a semi
commercial dairy farmer in Zwelisha in the Bergville area, whom was previously involved in an
agroforestry (AF) research project, perceived AF as having potential for producing supplementary
feed for his cattle. Through the participatory innovative development (PID) or joint experimentation
project funded by Nuffic, the institute of natural resources (INR) worked with Mr Mbhele to conduct
an on farm research on AF systems.
The main aim of the experimentation was:
To test how different fodder species (Lesbedeza and cocksfoot and yellow maize) perform
under AF systems
To determine the palatability of the species (Vachellia leaves, Lesbedeza) used in
5.2.1PID process and farmer engagement
The INR research team met with the farmer through a series of visits to discuss possible options for
experimentation. With the farmer having prior knowledge of AF, the communicationbetween the
researches and the farmer was more effective and well balanced. The farmer put forward what he
wanted to experiment with and the INR team work with him the design the experiments, the trial
layout is shown below.
5.2.2Data collection
Data on the trial was collected by the farm assistant who lived in the close proximity of the
experimentation site. From time to time the farmer and the INR team would visit the site to see the
progress of the trial. The data collected included the following:
Planting date
Date of germination
Overall plant growth
5.2.3Results and discussion
Due to low rainfall there was patchy germination inmost of the trial plots, which has resulted in
lower yield. The grasses grew better than the maize with the effect of having trees in between
pastures was not observed. Surprisingly, though visual than the experiments. This could be
attributed to a lot of factors. Traces of erosion were observed mostly in the Lesbedeza plot. This
could have been one of the contributing factors for patchy germination.
Having not being able to detect any difference in yields between the control and the experiments,
the research team and the farmer opted for testing if the pastures gave a potential for providing
supplementary feed for dairy cattle. The leaf samples (Lesbedeza; Cocksfoot and Vachellia karoo)
were collected and send to the lab for full feed analysis. The results have shown that the pastures
(Lesbedeza and Cocksfoot) contained relativelyhigher nutrient content compared to commercial
feeds. This indicated farmers could explore options for growing their own fodder tosupplement the
feed purchased from the store during the dry season.
5.2.4Famer Field Day
The INR team organised an information sharing day where other famers in the area were invited to
come and learn about the outcomes of the experimentation. During the information sharing day
farmers showed interest in growing their own fodder and having realised that the nutrient content
for the fodder species is relatively higher than that of commercial feed. Duringthe information
sharing day the farmer (Mr Mbhele) mentioned that he was happy with the outcomes of the
experimentation and would like to grow Lesbedeza on a large scale (2ha of land).Other benefits of
AF were discussed and the discussion led to coming up with ways to do experiments better in the
Figure 7: Farmer Field Day, 04 April 2016
5.2.5Challenges and recommendation
Weeding on the Cocksfoot and Lezbedeza plot proved to be difficult and the famers assistant
(Thabo) suggested that it would be better to grow the Cocksfoot and Lezbedeza in rows to make the
weeding easier. The Cocksfoot was left too long before it was cut, therefore it was suggested that
the Cocksfoot should be cut on regular basis to encourage regrowth. With regard tothe Lesbedeza,
there was a discussion around if it should be cut when it is still small or when it has matured? There
was a suggestion to sample the Lezbedeza when it is still young and soft and later when it has
matured and investigate if there is change in nutrient content with age of the pasture species.
5.2.6Phase 2 Experimentation: Over-sowing maize with oats
As per trial layout, the planwas to harvest maize for winter feed on the 3 plots, and over sow with
oats. The planting of oats took place on 04 May 2016 on the experimental site. Two more farmers
(Mrs Ndawo and Mrs Bocibo) also planted in their vegetable gardens.
Figure 8: Oats planted on 04 May 2016 (left); Figure 3: Farmers on site during PID learning event
Figure 9: Farmer learning event at Obonjaneni where PID activities were shared
5.2.7Farmer learning event: 06 July 2016
FSG in collaboration with INR facilitated the learning event through Sivusimpilo-Okhahlamba
Farmers Forum. The purpose of the event was toallow discussion and reflection on PID
experimentation. The event was attended by 60 farmers from Amangwane and Amazizi communities
and other local NGO’s (World Vision, Philakahle and LIMA). The following experimentation activities
were shared:
Table 5: PID activities presented during the learning event
Presented by
Agroforestry Trial
Thabo Bocibo and INR team
Indigenous chicken brooding
Busingatha and
Mrs Minah Yende, Mrs Zondo, Mrs Moloi
and FSG team
Potato planting in bags
Mr Siphiwe Mduba and Mrs Mabaso
5.2.8Discussion and comments
Indigenous chicken brooding
Mrs Yende shared that her chickens have increased to 37 through this innovation. Chicks are
protected from predators, and they stay in the house until they are well developed. The farmers
shared that through the support of FSG who took some chicks that were affected by sores in the
eyes, now they know the type of disease and how is being treated. The level of adoption of this
practice is gradually increasing, 3more farmers from oBonjaneni have started to raise chickens in
this manner. With the information handout that has been put together by FSG in local language,
Philakahle representativesshowed interest and are committed to sharing with their farmers. The
other important point raised by present NGO’s was that if more farmers continue toadopt this
practice, they would need support with markets to generate income with indigenous chickens.
Agroforestry trial
Thabo Bocibo presented the different fodder species planted in between the Vachellia karoo trees to
increase fodder production with Mr Mbhele. As farmers had seen on site, cattle farmers were very
interested in the trial. The INR team responded that the project will run for the next 4 years and
there will be further learning opportunities to sensitise farmers about AF. Farmers will also be taken
to the formal research sites for further learning. Mr Mbhele’s site is local and is open to farmers for
exchange visits. INR will continue to work closely with FSG and Sivusimpilo Forum in organizing
farmer field days for sharing of lessons. The forum leaders recommended that such projects should
also be presented to Okhahlamba Livestock Association.
Potato planting in bags
Mr Mduba shared that 4 farmers in Potshini started an experiment of planting potatoes in bags to
prevent moles. They used different sources of fertility (kraal, poultry manure and grass) mixed in the
bag with soil. They compared with potatoes planted on the ground. Due to drought, the potatoes did
not germinate. Gogo Mabaso shared that her potatoes grew well and she was able harvest from the
bags. The ones grown on the ground did not survive the drought. She further shared that she was
consistent with irrigating in the bags, and got good yield from bags.
Way forward and conclusion
Farmers exchanged knowledge beyond experimentation but going toan extent of sharing about
marketing opportunities and selling produce amongst each other. Such learningplatforms stimulate
farmer innovativeness and willingness to learn from each other as oppose to waiting for external
agents to give them knowledge.
Lima Rural Development Foundation (Lima) was involved in the implementation of a Natural
Resources Management (NRM) project during the years 2013 to 2016 in the Eastern Cape Village of
Ntenetyana. This area is high priority due to the level of poverty of the rural community, the high
degree of alien plant invasion and the presence of an important dam feeding Mt Frere town, 20 km
away. The Lima NRM project was aimed primarily at securing water resources by removing Invasive
Alien Plants (IAPs) above and around the Ntenetyana dam. The project prompted farmers in the area
to look at returning to their lands, which had been abandoned when the IAP infestation became
uncontrollable. The figure below shows a Google Earth image of the site, with the extent of IAPs
outlined in orange, and the proportion of IAPs that has been removed in green.
Figure 10: Extent of Invasive Alien Plant infestation and surrounding dam area
Farmers detailed how they had left their croplands due to infestation by IAPs, inaccessibility of the
areas and low crop yields. The problem of soil acidityincreasing and becoming intolerable for other
plants to grow has been identified and well documented in literature. There was an arising need to
test whether the crop yield that farmers currently get from home based gardens, would be realised
when returning to the previously abandoned areas located some distance from their homesteads.
The issue wattle plantations encroaching into farmer’s grazing land was also raised.
Through the engagement with the Participatory Innovative Development (PID), Lima Community
Facilitators where given the opportunity to try and find innovative ways to solve the problem and
introduce participating farmers to joint experimentation. Different rehabilitation methods where
discussed and lessons learnt from previous grassland rehabilitation in the area were also put forward
by Lima NRM program workers. Community Facilitators attended a 5-day training course on how to
plan and execute joint experiments and ensure participation by farmers and other stakeholders.
Through the 5-day trainingcourse, Community Facilitators compiled brief project proposals that
would assist in testing the possible solutionsto the farmers’ problems. PID fundingcontributed to
inputs and some equipment needed to execute experiments.
Lima Community Facilitators compiled a draft project plan from the approved proposal and this was
shared and finalised with a group of interested farmers from the Ntenetyana village: Mrs Manyala,
Mr Maphasa and Mr Mabumbulu. The farmers committed their time andallocated land where
experiments could be set up and monitored.
6.1.1Aim of study
After the 5-day preparation training, the PID had the following broad objectives:
Introduce farmers in the selected area of Ntenetyana to PID;
With the farmers, explore limitations that are associated with agricultural development
in the area, particularly those related to the increasing wattle infestations;
Explore solutions associated with the use of abandoned areas in Ntenetyana and
determine the sustainability of the solutions for farmer implementation.
Plan an experiment with interested farmers that addresses the problems identified by
the farmers.
Implement the experiment;
Document findings of the experiment.
The objectives associated to the actual experiment, as planned with farmers following the initial
engagement are described below as Joint Experiment objectives:
To find out if liming will have an impact on the usability/productivity of previously wattle
infested croplands;
To compare two different methods of excluding livestock from grassland rehabilitation
Figure 11: Experimentation Process that farmers and community facilitators went through during
the Joint Experimentation
Identification Test Solutions Recommendations
6.1.2Project Implementers
The parties involved in the project included:
Participating farmers: Mrs Manyala, Mr Maphasa, Mr Mabumbulu, Ms Mathintwa, Ms
Nozukiso, Mr Mxhalaba;
Lumko Mboyi (BSc Environmental Sciences, NatureStamp / Lima Rural Development
Ndumiso Mhlongo (BSc Environmental Sciences, Lima Rural Development Foundation)
Teboho Pelesa (NDip Crop Production, Lima Rural Development Foundation) and
Local Extension Officer from the Department of Agriculture: Mr Nxhumalo, partially
involved at the initiation phase.
A number of farmers who showed an interest in returning to their abandoned croplands and in
rehabilitating grazing rangelands were engaged. It was anticipated that the results from this
experiment would provide a way forward for other interested farmers; furthermore, that the
process would provide all parties involved with an opportunity to learn how the PID process links
research and practise.
In order that reliable information could be obtained, the following steps were incorporated into the
decision-making process:
Farmers and other stakeholders (community leaders) were consulted and introduced to
the idea of experimentation;
Learning and sharing session was held to explore the current innovations in the area;
2 workshops were executed at the beginning of the experimentation to engage farmers
towards planning and implementing experiments;
Engagement with Local Extension Officers was aimed at ensuring that the officers would
play a pivotal role in improving sustainability and sharing of learnings.
6.2.2Experiment implementation
Experiment 1:
This involved testing maize and sugar bean crop production after dolomitic lime has been applied.
The participating farmers allocated a portion of land that was previously infested/partially-infested
by Black Wattle. The experiment was designed as shown in the tables below;
Table 6: Brief description of treatments for the crop production experiment
Gardens invaded by wattle and used without
Gardens invaded by wattle and used with intervention
Treatment 1
Table 7: Distribution of treatments for the crop production experiment
Crop 1 (Maize) 12.5m2
Crop 2 (Sugar Bean) 12.5m2
Control (C)
C, Crop 1
C, Crop 2
Treatment 1 (T1)
T1, Crop 1
T1, Crop 2
Notes: 5 x 5 m plots were established in previously invaded croplands, which is 25m2per farmer and
12.5m2per crop. This allowed for two 12m2treatments per crop i.e. crop 1 using normal methods
will be planted at previously invaded gardens without intervention and at previously invaded
gardens with intervention.
Unfortunately, only 1 of the 3 farmers continued with the experiment and hence only one result was
Figure 12: Experimentgardens
Experiment 2:
This involved the planting of Erogrostis teff, a fast growing annual grass species that produces seed
and provides soil cover fordegraded areas. Areas that had been cleared of Black Wattle are often
left exposed tosoil erosion and loss of topsoil, thus the experiment was aimed at determining the
most effective technique(s) to assist in the accumulation of soil basal cover. The experiment was
designed as per the table below. The different treatments were tested for basal cover at the
beginning and at the end of the PID project, for the purposes of this report; however, a participating
community group from the NRM program continues to monitor the germination and progress
Table 8: Brief description of experiments on land rehabilitation techniques
Rows Planting
Scattered Planting
Not Fenced off
Not fenced, Rows planting
Not fenced off, scattered planting
Fenced off
Fenced off, Rows planting
Fenced off, Scattered planting
Not fenced and not planted surrounding area
Not fenced and not planted
surrounding area
Table 9: Implementation plan
Person Responsible
1. Consultation with farmers in the area
briefing and introduction to
Joint Experimentation
selection of study sites and participants
finalize experimental designand crop
1-30 Sept
Lumko, Teboho and
Lessons from previous efforts were be incorporated into
experiment planning and design, as part of the PID Approach
2. Soil Sampling
1-30 Sept
Lumko, Teboho and
Soil samples were done on all plots during this period as it takes
almost 3 weeks to process results.
Results of the soil analysis was shared with farmers andhow
best-to-follow recommendations was discussed
3. Land preparation
tilling the soil
applying recommendation
securing seedlings
1-15 Oct
Investigating farmers and
facilitator; Ndumiso
A till/no till idea was explored with Farmers and Conservation
Agriculture Specialists from Mahlathini Organics
4. Planting
15 Oct 15 Nov
Facilitators and
investigating farmers
Include buying of seedlings
5. Fencing of Plots
Before planting
Investigating farmers/
Only where necessary. This wasthe farmers responsibility and
show of commitment to the project
6.Measuring germination rates, plant growth
and basal cover
15 Nov-Marc 2016
Investigating farmers
7. Measuring each crop yield
Marc 2016 (Harvest)
Facilitators and
investigating farmers
8. Analysing results with investigating and
interested farmers.
Jan-March 2016
Facilitators and
investigating farmers
9.Presenting findings to Stakeholders
March-April 2016
Facilitators and
investigating farmers
Photographs will be used to monitor, troubleshoot with
specialists and produce visual feedback material
Experiment 1
Due to the lack of commitmentfrom the participating farmers, this experiment did not yield usable
Experiment 2
From this experiment, it was determined that:
Cattle can be deterred from eating new seedlings by using “brush-pack”, although this was
not as effective as the fence;
Planting in rows was more effective for germination than a general broadcasting method;
Where fencing of rehabilitation efforts is not possible, there is a need for greater community
involvement to assist in controlling cattle.
The basal cover increased gradually across all plots monitored, although this was mainly attributed
to the summer season.
Table 10: below list the results from this experiment
Dec (Basal
cover %)
Jan (Basal cover
Feb (Basal
cover %)
Mar (Basal
cover %)
Not Fenced, rows planting
Not Fenced off, scattered
Fenced off, rows planting
Fenced off, scattered
Not Fenced and not planted
surrounding area
The fenced off areas (max 50 and 55% basal cover) showed much higher increases in basal cover
compared to other plots (max range 25-45% basal cover). Areas that were scattered showed a high
increase in basal cover initially (5%), although this may be due to the visibility of scattered seedlings
to the observers.
Figure 13: Brush pack protecting grass from being grazed
6.4Discussion on process learnings
The list below includes some of the key process learnings from both experiments. This feedback was
also shared with the local community:
Good community buy-in is required for the implementation of field experiments that lack
are not near the implementer’s homesteads;
Manage expectations earlyfrom both the implementers and participating farmers, to ensure
that each party knows their role and responsibility in the project. This issue was highlighted
in the project by the lack of willingness to provide labour by some of the participating
farmers. As a result, experiment 1 was not successfully executed.
Several factors influence expectations. In this case, the method of government working with
farmers (i.e. getting paymentfromfarmers and doing everything, from ploughing to
harvesting, and taking a proportion of the harvest) created confusion as to the roles and
responsibilities of the farmers within the PID project.
Formal commitments should be required from participants - more especially when inputs
are involved. While this is important, it is difficult to execute as it may appear intrusive and
deterring tofarmers, who are not necessarily incentivised to explore new methods and
practises. One needs to make sure that the problem is weighted as a high priority by all
involved, and not just one or two farmers.
One needs to improvise when things do not go according to plan! For example, in
experiment1, the experiment was condensed onto a smaller piece of land when 2 farmers
lost interest in the work
Clear communication lines with farmers and the project team is important and could have
been improved. It is not always easy to have formal meetings, as people are busy. However,
one can use simple check-up calls or texts to communicate developments and changes.
6.5Fast facts from successful joint experimentation
As a result of this experiment, the following recommendations are put forward
Grassland rehabilitation can be done using low input methods such as brush packs; and this
intervention can yield better results than not placing any intervention to protect grass
Brush packs showed signs of assisting the grasses in maintaining moisture and withstanding
dry conditions; and
Livestock was sufficiently deterred from the planted grass by branches simulating as a fence.
The experimenters would like to extend thanks and appreciation to the Prolinnova Fund for their
contributions to the inputs that were used during this experimentation. Thanks are also extended to
Mazwi Mzizi and Sanelisiwe of the Mahlathini Organics organization for their inputs and advice
during the initiation of the experimentation process.
A short experiment was done during the hot dry 2015/2016 season in Matatielein association with
the Grain SA SFIP (Smallholder Farmer Innovation Programme) in Conservation Agriculture (CA). This
experiment aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of mulch, linked to CA, on the growth and yields of
maize and beans as staple crops in the surrounding rural areas. Thatch grass material was laid over
the plots after germination of seeds that had been planted. Growth of both maize and beans was
increased in mulched plots with greener, stronger and bigger crops. Crops in plots with no mulch had
poor growth, and plants were pale and weak. Mulch played a crucial role in retaining moisture;
mulched plots were greener for longer periodsof time. Mulch played an important rolein
suppressing weeds while unmulched plots faced severe water and nutrient competition. Mulching
plots significantly increased maize and bean yields.
Matatiele is a small town situated in the northern part of the Eastern Cape Province and plays host
to many villages along the mountains separating South Africa and Lesotho. Towards the southwest
the town leads onto the Elundini Municipality and the Greater Kokstad Municipality towards the
west and extends to the Umzimvubu Municipality on the South. The area is predominantly African
with IsiXhosa and SeSotho as thetwo local languages and most of the people reside in the rural
areas and formal townships around the area. Most of these people are females that make up to 54%
of the estimated 205 464 populations. The Municipality’s community is a very young one with an
estimated age of 35 years totaling up to 71% and just 7% of those over 65 years of age. These figures
clearly point out that the municipality has to focus energies into more youthful initiatives. One of
those could be the tourism sector as Matatiele is overwhelmed with a good number of visitors
making use of the R56 going into and out of the town. Matatiele is one of the four local
municipalities with the Alfred Nzo District (Matatiele Local Municipality, 2016/17).
This is generally a farming community where livestock and crop production, notably of maize and
beans as important staplecrops for the 41.6% of poor households is common. However; these
livelihood activities are facing challenges in soil erosion and declining soil fertility and productivity
and over grazing. The municipality has seen a number of programs seeking to deal with and provide
increased resilience to climate change that continuously degrades the environment. Summer
temperatures sit at an average of 26 ˚C and the area experiences extremely cold winters. The area
sees a fair amount of rainfall ranging between 500m and 1000m falling from October through to
April (Matatiele Local Municipality, 2016/17).
Mahlathini Development Foundation (MDF) in partnership with Grain SA has been implementing the
Conservation Agriculture(CA) program through the appreciation of the farming nature of the area. A
number of villages have been part of the program for the past three years. CA is one of the
strategies under the Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) umbrella in responding to the adverse effects
of climate change. The need for producing food for the unemployed in the area is of essence but a
balance has to be maintained between thesetwo. This is crucial to the sustainability of not only the
livelihood activities but also that of the environment as the basis for this.
Farmer experimentation participants from Sehutlong and Nkau, which are two of the villages in the
area, have been experimenting with CA for the past three years. People here found the
intercropping difficult, mainly as this complicated the weeding of plots. Weeds are a major problem.
Participating farmers have had toweed a number of times within the season and weeds can be very
destructive with potential of halving harvest expected. In response to this two farmers in each of the
participating areas were asked to participate by trying out different planting practices that will
decrease the amount of work and increase the efficiency of weeding, namely:
Planting maize and beans in mono crop blocks rather than inter cropping for ease of
weeding. These were compared with the intercropped trials and all other variables were
kept the same i.e. varieties, herbicides, spacing ect
Using mulching as a weed suppression strategy in both the block planting and intercrop trial
plots, compared to the unmulched trial plots.
Two farmers in two areas lived up totheir promises in taking part in this short experimentation,
namely Bulelwa Dzingwa and Jabulani Hlathi from Nkau as well as Mamolelekeng Lebueoa and
Matshepo Futu from Sekhutlong. The process used the same variety of maize and beans per person,
but different varieties for the different locations.
Monitoring was conductedthree times per season working closely with a local facilitator (Bulelwa
Dzingwa) whowas learning to do the monitoringindependently of the facilitator and also to
introduce aspects of the monitoring and observationsto the farmers. A small process of farmer-led
documentation was run and managed by Bulelwa across the two areas. This had costs attached toit
and the budget was as follows:
Table 11: Experimentation budget
Inputs for trial
Support for inputs (including
seed, herbicide, pesticide and
6 x 400m² = 2400m²
Thuthaneng = 800m²
R3 200
4 x hand planters (MBLI from
Afritrac), 2x knapsack sprayer,
with nozzles
R900 x 4
R500 x 2
R4 600
Local facilitation (Bulelwa
R200/day x 10 days/month x
R12 000
1x camera, journal for farmers
R1 600
R 2 080
Farmers Day
Arrangement, venue,
Refreshments R2 100
R2 500
R24 380
7.3PID Implementation
The Participatory Innovation Development (PID) farmer experimentation project was implemented
in two areas within Matatiele. This was done through selecting two farmers to be participants within
a larger group in two different sub areas. This particular short term experimentation was done in
conjunction to the great CA experiment. The CA system has been proven to do well for the farmer’s
crops but at high labor costs especially weeding. Generally, farmers weed once throughout the
season and that has become a culture, this however, negatively impacts the crops as weeds compete
with crops for both water and nutrients.
The integration of mulch with the closely planted seeds was tried out in response of this short fall.
The CA system principles can be enhanced torespond better to specific areas, one way of doing
things may not necessarily be as good for other areas. This was the very case for the Matatiele area,
more especially with its sandy soil that cannot hold water for longer periods of time due to
overgrazing and ongoing desertification. Mulching of field crops is not a common practice but for the
small sized plots that we use for trials, this was very possible and farmers were willing to try this out.
They normally mulch the vegetables in their gardens, but they appreciated the impact they saw
hence wanted to experiment with this concept for their maize and beans.
Late August to early September served as a time where the PID experiment was delivered and
explained to the farmers, activities initiated within that timeframe were:
Soil sampling
Measuring of trial plots
Herbicide spraying and
Layout of PID plots (into 6 blocks/ per farmer)
Planting of PID plots
Setting up a monitoring process for the experimentation.
7.3.1Soil sampling and measuring of trial plots
For the farmer experiments, soil sampling was done for all four farmers’ plots and taken for analysis.
This helped with recommendations in terms of types and amounts of fertilizers required. Normally
farmers do not do soil tests and put plenty of manure in their plots. More often than not the manure
they put in their fields is low in nutrients as they would have evaporated and if they do use fertilizer
they use it based on witnessing the effect in their counterpart’s fields or through pure hearsay. The
Measurements of the plots were standardized to 5x5m 2 by eight block plots per farmer. This is
illustrated well by Table 1 below.
Table 12: The planned PID layout
(All plots are mulched)
Maize & Beans
Maize & Beans
7.3.2Herbicide spraying
Herbicide spraying was done along with the participatingfamers. Individuals had to take practice
runs of spraying before actually using herbicide. Spraying can be very tricky and as a measure to help
people spray more efficiently, dye was introduced to help clearly distinguish sprayed and unsprayed
areas. For the spraying Dual gold, Round up, Decis and Actripon were used for the four farmers. The
Actripon is an adjuvant that holds the herbicide and pesticide stick together also making sure that is
sticks onto the weeds sprayed. Decis forte was for the cutworm and stalkborer. A sixteen-liter
knapsack sprayer was used and the following measurements and dilutions were followed:
Six litres of water
Round up - 90 ml
Dual gold - 60 ml
Decis Forte - 3 sachets
Actripon - 10 ml.
Figure 14: Herbicide spraying.
This was a participatory exercise done in partnership with the farmers, after having an herbicide
workshop. Here a range of herbicides were talked about as well as dangers of the chemicals being
used and safety precautions required when spraying. Far more often than not, farmers do not take
seriously the dangers and appropriate attire tobe used when spraying. An even more sensitive case
is the actual storage of these chemicals and the dangers they pose toyoung ones in the homes.
Chemicals should be kept in their original containers with labels on them and not decanted into cool
drink bottles and so on as it can be mistaken for something else. Farmers were active and did the
spraying for all the plots.
Four plots were planted, two in Nkau and Sekhutlong. Mr Hlathi and Mrs Dzingwa’s (residing in
Nkau) plots were planted on the 27thof October and in Sekhutlong planting of the two PID plots for
Matsepo Fufu and Mamolekeng Lebeuoa was done on the 30thof October 2015. Six blocks were
planted initially and two bean single crop plots were planted later per PID experimentation plot. The
plots were first planted and mulch was put on later, after seed had germinated. The thinking behind
this was the thick mulch would make it difficult for emerging crops to push through. Thatch grass
was used for mulching but was not enough to allow for the 5cm thickness that was outlined when
the experiment was first designed. Due to this, some plots had grass cut from the nearby veld to
supplement insufficient thatch grass.
Participants in Nkau used Ukulinga as the sugar bean variety and Colorado (Yellow OPV) variety for
maize variety. Given the dry conditions they chose the yellow breed having in mind their sheep and
chickens needing feed. Sekhutlong participantspreferred Ukulinga for the bean variety and Boarder
King (White OPV) for maize. Their decision was influenced by great experiencethey had with the
Boarder King variety and appreciated its taste and big cob size. The spacing used for planting was as
Maize (mono-cropping): 50 cm apart in row and in between rows
Intercropping (maize and beans): 50 x 50 cm for maize and 25 x10 cm apart for beans.
Table 13: Plots planted on the first planting dates
Maize & Beans
Maize & Beans
Figure 15: Planting of experimental plots in Sekhutlong.
Figure 16: Laying of mulch in Matsepo Futu's plot.
7.3.4Monitoring of PID plots
A monitoring formwas created and discussed with the local facilitator. A large percentage of it was
translated into IsiZulu for the purposes of the farmers gaining better understanding of what was
required of them. The implementation of this process by the farmers was expected to take place in
the last two weeks of November 2015 (16 30 November) and was to be a weekly farmer activity
thereafter. Farmers were to experiment with the monitoring form, and alterations were due if
required. By the end of November, a camera was handed over to the local facilitator who worked
with farmers in both Nkau and Sekhutlong. The camera was used to document changes in the plots,
also to capture snapshots of other related activities and events such as topdressing, incidence of
hailstorms, etc. Rain gauges were also installed at two houses, one in each area where farmers were
tasked with recording measurements after each rain event.As time went, farmers voiced concerns
of trouble and difficulty with filling in the long form on a weekly basis. We than turned to our local
facilitator todo the recording in a small booklet for all the experiments. Of the four PID plots
planted, one faced pig damage. They ate all the crops and that was the end of the experiment. A
couple of weeks later the remaining bean plots were planted in all three experiments.
7.4Results and discussion
The hot dry weather conditions of the previous season had a big impact on the crops. However; the
CA plots did yield food for the participating farmers. This is a clear indication of the positive impact
of the system in adapting to unfavourable conditions. The intercrop as well as the introduction and
availability of hybrid seeds is another strategy of dealing with ongoing drought conditions.Mixed
planting plots had better growth as opposed to single crop plots of both maize and beans, which
tells us that intercropping has a beneficial effect for both maize and legumes. Beans that were
planted a bit later in plots with mulch cover and those with no mulch cover never germinated. At the
time dry conditions were at their peak and thought to be responsible for this.
Mulch played a crucial role in retaining moisture in the soil, especially given the conditions. Mulched
plots were moist for longer periods of time. Plots with no cover over them experienced drier soils
and this was evident through weak, pale maize crops. Moreover, those unmulched plots had a lot
more weeds when compared tomulched plots. There were some weeds visible in plots with mulch
cover which was due to insufficient material but they were heavily suppressedand there was very
little space for growth. Had there been enough cover over the plots, there wouldhave been a very
few weeds, if any. Unmulched plots were weed infested and those weeds heavily competed with
crops for water and nutrients which resulted in poor yields. This was also clear fromthe colour of
the crops. Mulched maize was much greener, taller, stronger and bigger when compared to its
counterpart and this is illustrated in the pictures below.
Figure 17: Plot with mulch and no mulch showing differences in crop growth and weed incidence.
Figure 18: A comparison of maize yields for trial and control plots in the Eastern Cape for the 2015-
2016 growing season
Figure 19: Matshepo Futu cooking some of the maize from her plot as ‘green mealies”. She did not
record her yields (left). Bulelwa Dzingwa, the local facilitator, with Mrs Ranqabang in Nkau to
weigh and record her crop yields (right).
What can be seen in the small summary table below is that the maize and bean yields were higher in
the mulched plots than the unmulched plots and that the control plot maize yields (under
conventional tillage) were higher than the CA trial plots.
Table 14: Summary of yields obtained (tons/ha)
Yields (t/ha)
When looking at the maize yields, mulched plots have a higher yield than un-mulched plots. There
was a bit of extra moisture in the plots that kept the roots of the plants moist and active with life
through organic matter supporting microbial life for better nutrient provision to the crop. Beans
yields similarly are much higher for the mulched plots. Once more cover is proven to have favored
growth of beans far more then no cover presence.
Organic mulch material has a great potential in promoting better crops growth and resultantly better
yields in dry conditions and even better in soils where minimal soil disturbance has occurred. Mulch
not only retains moisture and supports microbial life but also suppresses weed germination and
growth, this provides an ideal situation for maize and beans to grow and yield more food. Less
competition allows food crops to grow and prosper more. Further experimentation is required to
build up from this short study and will be evaluating crop germination through a layer of mulch.
Mulch will be laid on the plots immediately after planting and yields from the two practices will be
Participatory innovation development (PID) is aimed at breaching the gap between modern
technological advancements and innovations that come from the ground. It is a process aimed at
finding solutions to problems faced using not only modern technology but also taking into account
the embedded knowledge that exists in the communities in which we work. It appreciates the results
different innovations bring about but aims at making more important the process in which it
happens. Theseinnovative ideas are adaptation strategies and hence the process needs tobe taken
in detail so as to make properly informed decisions based on experience and sound results.
This report documents the activities of PID projects carried out by Mahlathini Development
Foundation across the UThukela and UThungulu districts of KwaZulu-Natal in the communities of
Winterton - Emaswazini, Bergville - Ngoba and Nkandla - Mpotholo respectively. The various
communities had different ideas which they wanted to investigate further and the progress, results
and lessons learnt from challenges encountered with these are documented below.
8.2PID at Emaswazini Sweet potatoes
AmaSwazi community is one of the land reform beneficiary groups that have been relocated from
one place to another over several years. These series of removals and relocations might have
resulted in the loss of institutional memory and some of the indigenous knowledge. It is usually
taken for granted that each rural community would have a certain level of embedded knowledge,
mostly in farming, which was not the case in MaSwazini during our first engagement. It was found
that all the households have home fields, one away from home and they are owners of large
communal fields which are all loaned out to commercial farmers.
Thuthukani Self Help Group of AmaSwazi area in Bergville was formed as part of the Zimele
Community Self-help Program that aimed at empowering rural women to start small savings and
champion their own development. The groups start with 10 members and grow as they start
different projects that include craft, guesthouses, agriculture, home based care and orphan care.
The group owns a communal garden where they produce vegetables for household consumption
and to sell surplus to their neighbours. The garden had been operational for less than two years and
it hadn’t been in full use. The group was facing challenges such as members not attending meetings,
and a lack of resources such as tractors and oxen for ploughing and water for irrigation.
8.2.2PID experimentation design
Farmers wanted to plant half of their 8300 m2 garden with potatoes or sweet potatoes. Due to the
economic situation they were facing, hand tools were used but under ideal situations use of a hired
tractor would have been the preferred choice. The farmers were asked how they view their soil. The
response to this was that soil testing has never been done in the garden, however farmers believed
the plot had good soils judging by the good produce for the previoustwo seasons. In the garden the
farmers stated that they had previously separated it into two and had planted sweet potatoes and
sugar beans. The farmers stated that the main reason for planting beans was to fix nitrogen within
the soil.
Farmers spread goat and cattle manure in the garden prior to discing and planting. The main reason
for using the machinery was that the plot is big and farmers could not plant it by themselves.
Farmers further showed understanding of the disadvantages of ploughing, by stating that there was
an understanding that the top fertile soil goes beneath the subsoil when ploughing and that this
reduces the “quality’ of the soil in the longer term, resulting in less water infiltration taking place
and the soil being prone to erosion. However, according tothe farmers’ observations this was not
the case in the garden as the soil absorbs the water during rainy seasons. In discussions with the
group it was decided to focus on a high value crop for their communal garden.Mrs Tholiwe Dora
Mazibuko had planted sweet potatoes on her plot previously and she and the group members
thought it was successful. She sold her sweet potatoes to the community at one of the FarmersDay
the group held. The experience the group had with sweet potatoes influenced the group to choose
sweet potato for PID experiment, but the group wanted to know:
Which sweet potato variety is good for their area
Whether fertilization plays anyrole in sweet potato production in their area compared to
the previous year’s crop which was not fertilized
Whether the perception that “fertilizer spoils the taste on sweet potato” is true.
They opted for experimentation with sweet potato varieties, including orange fleshed sweet potato
as this crop can be planted late, has good yields even under drought conditions, is nutritious and
fetches a good price locally. Four different improved varieties were obtained from ARC VOPI in
Roodeplaat (50 kg bags of vines for making cuttings):
Ndou (white flesh, red skin dry and dense tubers)
Monate (white flesh, red skin, dense tubers)
Impilo (orange fleshed)
Bopelo (orange fleshed).
Note: Though Monate was one of the varieties sourced, the quantity was not enough to be put
under experimentation; the group decided that one member (Mr Mabaso) should plant it for
preservation of the vines. In addition they used their local variety and planting method as the
control. Fertilizer (2:3:4) and lime was acquired for the trial plot according to standard sweet potato
planting requirements [2 x 50 kg 2:3:2; 3 x 50 kg lime, 1 x 50 kg LAN for top dressing]. The group
monitored crop performance and final harvest under different fertilization regimes. Different
varieties were cooked and tasted to determine if the taste differed for the different treatments
(dealing with the perception that chemical fertilizer affects the taste).
The design of the trial is shown in the table below.
Table 15: Trial design at Emaswazini
Sweet potato variety
Plot 1 (3m x 5m)
4 rows
Kraal manure
(10kg or l/row ~2kg/m2)
No fertilizer
2:3:2 (1 handful/m2)
Plot 2 (3m x 5m)
No fertilizer
Fertilizer: 2:3:2 (1
Kraal manure
(10kg or l/row
Plot 3 (3m x 5m)
2:3:2 (1 handful/m2)
Kraal manure
(10kg or l/row
No fertilizer
Plot 4 (3m x 5m)
Control: Local variety
Control: Local variety
Control: Local variety
Note: Lime was applied as follows: 50 kg lime per 4 plots thus 50kg/60m2 ~ 1,5tons/ha
8.2.3Land preparation
Preparation and planting was done on 21 and 22 January 2016. The pictures below are an indication
of activities undertaken.
Figure 20: Ploughing of the trial plot and collection of vines,kraal manure, etc for planting (left);
Marking out of trial blocks and plots and addition of lime (right).
Figure 21: Addition of manure and fertilizer to the experimental plots and preparation of ridges for
planting of vines.
Figure 22: Planting of vines on the ridges after careful preparation.
8.2.4Results of the experimentation
The results of the experiments are summarised in the table below.
Table 16: Monitoring and yields for the sweet potato trials in Emaswazini from 15 m2 plots
Kraal Manure
Germinated very well,
rained for the week after
Germinated well, rained for a
week after planting (some
plants were planted upside
down, reason for gaps on
Germinated well
as it received
week long rain.
Excellent growth, dark blue
leaves, more biomass than
other plots (soil is
Good growth though it is less
than chemical fertilized plot,
soil is not fully covered.
Good growth but
third if compared.
Weeds before weeding
and even after weeding -
they grew back faster.
So many weeds, even when
weeded didn’t die off.
There are fewer
weeds compared
to the other two
4.05 kg
1.49 kg
3.23 kg
Germinated well
Germinated well
Germinated well
The variety doesn’t have
much leaves / biomass.
The plot looks well and its
In comparison, this is a very
good plot for growth. Cracks
on soil have emerged as the
sign of fruiting.
6.88 kg
6.58 kg
3.32 kg
1.78 kg
3.75 kg
2.88 kg
Note: The local variety that served as the control (planted under no fertilization regime) yielded 7.06
8.2.5Local learning day at Emaswazini
Local learning days aim to facilitate farmer to farmer learning (as the understanding is that the
transfer of knowledge is better if one learns from one’sown peers)and also to create relationships
between interested groups and relevant stakeholders. The local learning day event that took place
at Emaswazini on the 2nd June 2016 was no different. The learning event was attended by:
90 Community members from Emaswazini, Ezibomvini, Vimbukhalo, Mhlwazini, Potshini,
Stulwane and Emmaus/Eqeleni.
LED officer from Bergville Local Municipality
NGO staff members from Lima RDF, SaveAct and Philakahle
Masters Student at Rhodes University.
Outline of the day
Seven members of the community garden at Emaswazini (Winterton) had been doing
experimentation with new varieties of sweet potatoes (2 orange fleshed, and one white fleshed) and
compared the growth of these to their local variety using fertilizer, manure or no soil
amendment/treatment. They had also implemented a number of water harvesting and conservation
strategies in their garden including a run-on ditch and a small dam and have access to a treadle
pump for pumping water from the stream below the garden. On the day Mr Madondo brought the
Inkuku khaya chicken coops for small scale poultry production with a few broilers todemonstrate
this containerised housing system for poultry.
The community members prepared tables and stations in the garden where they cooked each of the
varieties planted (Ndou - white fleshed, Impilo and Bophelo - orange fleshed) and also samples of
each of the treatments. Visitors looked at the growth of the vines and tubers in the field and tasted
then scored the different sweet potatoes under the different production regimes (fertilizer, manure
and nothing). Each visitor scored their preferences after having tasted the different varieties and
then gave an indication of whether there is a difference in taste according to the treatments - mostly
whether using fertilizer produces a less sweet tuber or not. They also compared the new varieties to
their local one and community members took them through this process.
A presentation was given on the process of experimentation and how it was conducted and visitors
were given the chance to interrogate the process and also thereafter to volunteer for doing similar
experiments in their home villages. Vines of the three varieties were shared with interested
individuals. Discussions were held and suggestions made for processes to over-winter the vines and
sweet potatoes in the somewhat harsh environment of a cold dry Drakensberg winter.
Scoring and ranking of sweet potato varieties
Below are two tables that summarise the scoring for each of the varieties of sweet potatoes against
the three treatments. From the table it is clear that the participants and visitors were able to
differentiate between the taste of the sweet potato varieties grown under the three treatments
(fertilizer, manure and no soil amendment). They clearly preferred the taste of sweet potatoes
grown with manure.
Table 17: Scoring of three sweet potato varieties against the three treatments
Note: the numbers denote the sum of the scores given by each participant where 3 is very good
taste, 2 is average taste and 1 is a not very good taste
Table 18: Comparison of the taste of the three different varieties of sweet potato planted
Sweet potato variety
Score for taste
Note: Here each participant made one tick for their most preferred sweet potato variety
Participants preferred the Impilo and Ndou varieties and did not vote at all for the Bophelo. Bophelo
is the variety that has the deepest orange flesh and a distinct ‘carrot’ flavour which participants said
was strange for a sweet potato. After discussion it was agreed that having a sweet potato cross
carrot for nutrition purposes and especially for young children was in fact not a bad idea and to
‘temper’ their initial taste aversion in this case. There was a lot of interestfrom visitors in also
planting the new varieties and tubers and vines were shared with them. Visitors were shown the
water harvesting practices and the treadle pump in action as well as the Inkukukhaya chicken coops.
These ideas will be properly introduced in their areas as interest to experiment with these new ideas
was high.
Sweet potato sales
After the tasting of sweet potatoes, those in attendance were very keen on buying some sweet
potato for themselves. Impilo variety grown under fertilizationwas the most purchased. Farmers
had to dig out the sweet potatoes on the spot. A total 45 kg of Impilo was sold with 1.5 kg of the
local variety sold.
Snapshots of the day
Photos from the day are provided below.
Figure 23: left to right: Sweet potato trials, rainwaterharvesting and garden pond and
Inkukukhaya chicken coops for small scale poultry production the three new ideas introduced
and shared during the local cross visit.
Figure 24: left to right: Participants registering for the day and listening to one of the farmer
experimenters from Emaswazini describe their process and the outcomes of the sweet potato
Figure 25: The process of scoring taste for different varieties and different treatments.
Figure 26: A presentation of the sweet potato experimentation process and outcomes in terms of
growth and yield was given in the hall after the field walks and participants asked questions and
discussed various points, including how to over winter the sweet potato vines in the cold dry
climate of the Drakensberg.
8.3Overwintering sweet potato vines
A new setof experiments were designed at the end of the season to address the difficulty of
overwintering vines in the Bergville area. The winters there are very cold and dry and vines often do
not survive until the followingseason. These activities were carried over from the experimentation
in Emaswazini where three sweet potato varieties in three treatments had been planted. The aim
was to further explore ways of keeping vines over winter. Possible methods discussed and
implemented were:
Burying the vines
Burying and watering
Burying, mulching and then watering.
The further exploration was to be carried out at the community garden. Farmers that attended the
cross visit at Emaswazini from Bergville villages were interested in trying sweet potatoes and asked
for vines. The interested groups were then given the vines.
Figure 27: Vines from Emaswazini, these were stuffed in bags upon delivery.
8.3.1Experiment design
Emaswazini community garden
The two ladies in Emaswazini (Mrs Mazibuko and Mrs Ntshingila) had finished burying the vines and
had mulched the plots. The Impilo variety was the only one with dry grass put over it (mulched),
grass was cut just outside the garden. Toget water to irrigate the sweet potato vines, a treadle
pump was used. The ladies were shown how to use the pump and the ladies were to pump the
water from a neighbouring stream to the corner of their garden and carry the water on their heads
to the garden. The process of watering the vines was to take place at least once a week until the
vines are used. Later on the length of the pipe was extended by another by another 350m.This
enabled farmers to pump water straight up onto the plots. Potentially they could also pump water
into their small pond. One challenged noted was the increased time and energy for pumping water
over an even greater distance.
Figure 28: Experimental vines buried, Impilo variety mulched.
Mr Mabaso had kept the Monate variety sweet potato vines and they were in good condition when
they were overwintered because they had been taken out a day before planting. The previous
growing season the variety did not do too well because of the severe hailstorm that had hit. The plot
was five lines on an area of 4 m x 4 m.
Figure 29: Mrs Mazibuko and Mrs Ntshingila planting Monate vines
Smallholder farmers in Ndunwana were not too familiar with sweet potatoes and were even further
interested tohear that they come in a number of varieties. Boniwe Hlatshwayo attended the local
learning event day and had a taste of the different varieties. She told the news to a few other ladies
who also wanted to try it out. Concerns about goats that were likely to eat up her crop once it had
emerged resulted in Boniwe planting her sweet potatoes at her mother, Nomgqibelo Hlatshwayo’s
homestead and this took place on the 21stJune 2016. The labour force on the day consisted of the
three ladies and the Mahlathini staff, being ThabaneMadondo and Mazwi Mzizi. The garden used
was a small fenced off piece that was just enough to plant two 5m rows of each variety. However
weeds had to be cleared out first, ridges dug and vines buried. The activities lasted approximately an
hour after which vines were shared with the other ladies and a brief recap was done prior planting in
their own plots.
Figure 30: Pulling out weeds and opening rows(left); Madondo showing ladies how to cut and put
vines in the rows (right).
Figure 31: Vines buried in the ground.
Following the demonstration at Ndunwana also on the 21stJune 2016, Emmaus - Eqeleni was the
next stop where the team met Simephi Nkosi and four other ladies who also wanted to plant the
vines. Unlike at Ndunwana, this group was familiar with sweet potatoes and did have some in their
gardens as well. Simephi Nkosi had vines in the garden that were supplied by the Agricultural
Department’s official, Mr Khuboni. The group agreed that vines would be planted once and will not
be taken out. Each of them took a handful of a number of different vines to plant in their plots.
On the 22ndJune 2016, the field team met the group of ladies at Mrs Hlongwane’s homestead,
where the vines were to be buried. Once they have grown well they will then be shared among the
rest of the group. Mrs Hlongwane has a fenced garden where she preferred the vines to be put. The
ladies were hard at work opening up ridges for the vines. The vines were planted and buried then
mulched and watered. The total plot size is 9 m x 4 m.
Table 19: List of participants who over-wintered the sweet potato vines
Name and surname
1.Boniwe Hlatshwayo
Bophelo, Ndou, Impilo
2.Makho Mdluli
Bophelo, Ndou, Impilo
3.Shiyiwe Mazibuko
Bophelo, Ndou, Impilo
4.Simephi Nkosi
Ndou, Bophelo
6.KaSithole Zimba
Impilo, Ndou
Impilo, Ndou
8.Tombi Zikode
Bophelo, Impilo
9.Mrs Hlongwane
Bophelo, Ndou, Impilo
The above listed are the participants who overwintered the sweet potato vines, thesevarieties are
now present in these communities and can be shared with interested individuals as and when
Figure 32: Ridges opened up and vines planted at Mrs Hlongwane's home - to be shared with the
group later (left and middle); Mulching of planted vines (right).
8.4PID at Mpotholo (Nkandla)
Nkandla Farmers joined a farmers’ day which was held in Bergville around Conservation Agriculture
(CA) and were very keen to try it out and were even more eager to use animal drawn no-till planters.
Farmers have large fields of 2- 5 ha and they work in cooperatives along with local Department of
Agriculture officers. Previously challenges with low yields and soil erosion were faced, which further
supports the farmersinterest in CA. Six farmers joined the experimentationwith plots of 1 000 m2
8.4.2The experiment
The experiment included the planting of single row intercropping of maize (PAN SC 701) and Gadra
beans which were planted 1 - 5 days after the maize. The farmers used tractors and even a car to
pull the no-till animal drawn planter as they do not have oxen. One farmer planted a mixture of
summer cover crops (SCCs) in his fencing in home garden at the beginning of the season (November
2015) and the other participants did relay cropping of the SCCs (sun hemp, millet and sunflower)
later in the season.
8.4.3Planting at Mpotholo
Experimentation here consisted of using the Afritrac animal drawn no-till planter pulled by a tractor
or vehicle. Six individual larger scale farmers had planted their cropping fields. Fields are notfenced
and roaming livestock are an issue. The effect of the drought here was quite severe. Three of the six
participants had planted late November with little to no germination. Replanting had to be done (10
December) to respond to the poor germination rates that occurred. The farmers were adamant that
pulling the planter behind the tractor is a very cost effective practice for them stating that they only
needed 5 litres of diesel to plant 1 ha in this way. Previously with the ploughing, discing and planting
they used as much as 20 l/ha.
Figure 33: Using an animal drawn planter pulled by a tractor for ploughing larger areas (left); the
crossbar to which the planter is attached works better than a chain for producing straight rows
Table 20: Results obtained (% Ground cover and % Germination)
Name and
Trial Size (m²)
Control size (m²)
% Ground cover
% Germination
Mr Njabulo
35% (fields fallow for
around 10 years)
~5% -replanted 10/12
Good ground cover and organic
matter due to long fallow
Mr Jafta Nene
~5% replanted 09/12
Mr Senzo Ntuli
~0-5% - replanted
Mr Elson
~3.5 ha (also no
till planting of
Colorado maize)
(planted continuously for
around 10-12 years)
~70% (20/11) the best
germination for him ever.
Extremely low organic matter in
soil. Capping and run off.
Mr TM Gasa
800 (4x200)
In garden no
25-30% cover
Crop rotation trial:
SCC- ~85-90%
Maize ~30%
Beans ~40%
Capping and runoff at the lower
end of the plot
Mr Sdashi Zondi
4000 (4x1000)
~3,5 ha
(Planted 02/12
using no till)
Maize+WCC (25/11)
SCC~overall ~ 40%
Sunnhemp ~25%
Cowpea ~ 10-15%
Dolichos ~7-9%
Sunnhemp and cowpeas
germinated despite heat and
drought. Beans did not germinate
at all, Dolichos struggling. Maize
Mr Sangweni
~5% need to replant
WCC (winter cover crop) black oats, fodder rye and vetch planted in Feb 2016 but did not germinate
Issues with variable planting depth as well as variable release of the seed from the planter were encountered. It was established that if the seed hopper is
not the right size, seed gets stuck underneath the plate. This was especially the case for the beans and the Colorado maize (OPV yellow maize)that has a
slightly smaller seed size. Mahlathini staff (Mr Madondo) assisted in re calibrating the seed hopper and wheel for seed planting depth during the
replanting which took place on the 10 December 2015.
The drought tolerant SCCs used in the crop rotation trials germinated a lot better than the maize and beans.
Figure 34: Mr Elson Maphalala’s field - he was very impressed with the no-till planter and planted his
whole field of around 4ha using this method “stress free”(left); Maize was battlingto germinate and
low ground cover with runoff and capping adding to plant stress conditions (middle); Mr Maphalala
with Mr Madondo (right).
Figure 35: Good ground cover and germination of the summer cover crops in Mr Gasa’s plot(left); Mr
Gasa and the field workers look on (right).
Figure 36: Mr Zondis SCC mix germinated reasonably well although the Dolichos was struggling - the
lack of cover and organic matter in the soil is clearly visible, adding to drought stress conditions(left);
the maize did not germinate well and the beans did not germinate at all (right).
8.4.4Results and Issues
Six farmers participated and replanted a number of times even though their efforts were fruitless
especially with the beans and winter cover crops. Germination rates of 0% were achieved because of the
excessively dry weather conditions. Farmers themselves were very positive about the process even
though the results were not forth coming. Due to the excessively dry weather conditions that prevailed
this past growing season, farmerscrops really struggled for all the farmers except for Mr Zondi and Mr
Maphalala whoobtained some yields from their fields with Mr Zondi having obtained 140kg and Mr
Maphalala 50 kg of maize grain respectively. The SCC mix grew well and farmers let their cattle graze on
it once it was ready. Mr Zondi has since kept 250 ml (1 cup) of sun hemp seed.
8.5PID Ngoba (Bergville)
Ngoba is a new village that was included as an expansion area within Bergville in the CA Programme and
also because of an attempt to work more closely with the local Department of Agriculture. In this area
the Department supports no-till (CA) farmers and there were talks of a group clubbing together to buy a
no-till planter (animal drawn). It was considered a good idea to start the trials and experimentation in
this area. The Department has however not followed through with the joint venture and only
succeeded in carrying out the introductions to the farmers in the area.
8.5.2The experiment
The experiment included the planting of double row intercropping of maize (PAN 6479) and beans (PAN
148) as well as maize and cowpeas, which were planted simultaneously. MBLI planters and traditional
hand hoes were used for planting that took place from the 16th to 28th of December 2016.
A Four block trial was set up:
10 m x 10 m summer cover crop mix (sun hemp, millet and sunflower) - Dolichos was planted
10 m x 10 m maize white hybrid (PAN 6479)
10 m x 10 m beans (PAN 148)
10 m x 10 m winter cover crop mix (Sai oats, fodder rye and fodder radish) - planted into maize
for summer season
8.5.3Experimentation progress
Figure 37: Mrs Dladla’s trial plot in Ngoba - It had been very dryand hot in the area. The crops
germinated but were not weeded well and had been eaten by livestock.
Figure 38: Mrs Fikile Bhengu standing in front of her weed infested cowpea plot. She planted the crop
rotation trials (left); The SCC (Dolichos and sunnhemp) germinatedbut are being outcompetedby
weeds (right).
Figure 39: SCC showing signs of unsatisfactory growth due to harshgrowing conditions(left); Mrs
Fikile Hlongwane’s fields after livestock damage (middle); Maize and cowpeas intercrop in Mam
Ntombenhle Hlongwane’s field (right).
8.5.4Issues and results
Given the extreme weather conditions, the expectation that the SCCs would germinate and grow better
than the maize and beans was well justified. The results were however disappointing as there had been
extreme grazing pressure from goats and cattle. In a number of villages cattle had not been sent to the
mountains for summer grazing as the veld had not recovered after winter due to lack of rain. Livestock
were thus roaming freely within the fields. SCCs as well as subsequent WCCs germinated but did not
grow to maturity due to grazing fromstray livestock. No maize was harvested while some farmers
managed to salvage some beans. Mam Vimbephi Dladla obtained 5 kg of dry beans while others
obtained no harvests at all. One case of spontaneous adoption is Mrs Bhengu’s neighbour who saw the
CA trials and used the method toplant a plot of maize for himself. His plot was fenced and germination
and growth reasonable
Figure 22: Volunteer planting by Mr Celani Mntambo in his fields showing good growth.
8.6Potshini Chicken rearing experiment
Subsequent to the results that were obtained from crops experimentation, further ideas were explored
with the farmers at Ngoba, Bergville on the 5thMay 2016 where a meeting was held with 7 farmers in
the village. The idea of rearing chickens in chicken coops as opposed to free range and exploring the
various differences or even similarities was discussed. Mr Madondo, shared his experience of using
these with the farmers.
Figure 40: Laying hens in chicken coops at Mr Madondo’s homestead (left); Eggs collected from
chicken coops also at Mr Madondo homestead showing the challenge of the cages (right).
The process of PID yielded positive results even though there were many factors that were unfavourable
including the recent drought. Winterton - Emaswazini’s PID, which was to ascertainwhich sweet potato
variety is most suitable to the area as well the effect of soil amendmentson the taste of sweet potato
determined that the local variety produces more yield in kilograms however, in terms of taste and the
effect of the different fertilization regimes, Impilo variety proved to be more popular and produced the
second highest yields to the local variety. As a result of the Emaswazini local learning event, sweet
potato vines of the various varieties (Impilo, Ndou, and Bophelo) were shared with Eqeleni, Ndunwana
and Ezibomvini farmers meaning that these are now available in the various communities for planting.
The effect of the recent drought was seen more in the Ngoba (Bergville)and Nkandla (Mpotholo) PID
where in these areas poor germination was experienced and unsatisfactory yields obtained for the CA
trials. Farmers were able to respond to this by planting later than usual as well as replantingsome of
their plots but those that did achieve good germination ended up not obtaining good yields due to stray
livestock. They also planted cover crops. Learning together has led the participants to be keen on further
experimentation. Participants in Ngoba have been first to put their hands up for further
experimentation where they will be experimenting with layer pullets reared in chicken coops versus free
range and comparing the different variables.
9CASE 7: Comparing broiler rearing systems to identify the prefered method for smallscale farmers
EDO Enterprise Development Officer
SCG Savings Credit Group
CIG Commodity Interest Group
EFG Enterprise Focus Group
Saveact have embarked on a new phase of enterprise development. New groups have been formed
from existing savings groups (SCGs) and Commodity Interest Groups (CIGs) that show an interest in a
specific enterprise programme. These programmes include:
Organic Vegetables.
The most popular programme to date had been broiler production with the modular Inkukukaya Broiler
units having been chosen, in consultation with theKwazulu-Natal Poultry Institute (KZNPI), as the
preferred method of rearing grain fed broilers for small scale farmers. This new technology has been
growing in popularity in the poultry industry particularly with small scale farmers in rural communities.
9.2Aim and objective
Through PID, Saveact aimed to run an experiment which would compare differences of market-ready
birds that were reared the traditional or existing way to those that were reared in the Inkukukaya cages.
Factors that were analyzed were weight differencesand mortalities in the batch. Farmers consensually
agreed on the treatment which represented their traditional/existing method of rearing broilers.
9.3PID pilot description
Three groups were chosen to conduct the experiment namely:
Masisukume (Ndodeni, Centocow)
Zibambele (Lupongolo, Umzimkulu)
Ramohlakoana (Maluti, Matatiele)
9.3.1Masisukume (Ndodeni, Centocow)
Masisukume is an EFG consisting of 10 members all of which are women. This group falls under the
Centocow area. This is a vibrant group with seven of its ten members being under the age of 35. The
house they use for rearing chickens is well ventilated and has concrete flooring. Almost all the women
have indigenous chickens in their households but all are relatively new to broiler farming. When they
feel they have adequate knowledge to run a broilerenterprise, they said they will venture into layer
production; to diversify their enterprises.
Figure 41: Masisukume (Ndoneni Centocow)
9.3.2Zibambele (Lupongolo, Umzimkulu)
Zibambele is an EFG consisting of 11 members all of which are women. This group represents two
savings groups which are under the Umzimkhulu region. The chicken house is a normal (rural) room with
sufficient space for rearing the birds. They have two meeting venues(roughly 300m apart) which are
alternated between poultry trainings. Many of the women have started farming broilers on a small scale
prior to joining the EFG. They showed knowledge of poultry diseases in terms of symptoms, but did not
know the names of the disease and their respective vaccines and medications. This alsoapplies to other
aspects of poultry farming;their knowledge is minimal. Nevertheless, their zest for poultry farming has
enabled them to learn swiftly.
Figure 42: Zibambele (Lupongolo, Umzimkulu)
9.3.3Ramohlakoana (Maluti, Matatiele)
Ramohlakoana is an EFG consisting of 14 members with 3 men and 11 women. The group is a registered
co-op and was able to acquire funding from an Irish company to build a broiler house capable of running
1000 birds. The building is complete but is awaiting an electricity connection from the Municipality. The
newly formed group expressed an interest in learningabout broiler production and subsequently
formed an EFG. The Inkukukaya unit was placed in late November with a supply of 25 day-olds.
Figure 43: Ramohlakoana (Maluti, Matatiele)
Each group applied their traditional/existing method (Treatment 1) alongside the Inkukukayamethod
(Treatment 2). All three groups were provided with 50 birds 25 birds in Treatment 1 and 25 in
Treatment 2 being reared concurrently. In order to give a more precise weight analysis, feed supply was
constant in all three replicates. On completion ofthe experiment the results were shared with the
participating groups along with all existing and future poultry EFGs in an attempt to improve Feed
Conversion Ratio (FCR), decrease mortalities and minimise all future avoidable costs (brooding, flooring
Table 21: Inputs requirements
Treatment 1 (Existing/Trad)
Treatment 2 (Inkukukaya)
25 Bird Broiler Unit
25kg Starter Crumbles
65kg Finisher Pellets
Day-Old Chicks
Brooding Blanket
Water Trough
Feeding Trough
9.5Record keeping
Data Sheets were providedto each group. These sheets werefilled in daily to record the mortality rates
and any notes that may be relevant during the course of the 6 week cycle. This information was
recorded in the Broiler Daily Record Sheet (Appendix 5).The individual weights of each bird from both
treatments were recorded at the end of the 6 week cycle to determine the yield achieved per
production system. This information was recorded in the Broiler Cycle Yield Sheet (Appendix 6). A
further sheet was provided to record the sales of the birds from each treatment. This was nota part of
the PID experiment but is an important record sheet to assess the profitability of the Poultry enterprise.
This is called the Broiler Sales Record Sheet (Appendix 7).
9.6Parties involved
The Saveact enterprise development team who implemented the proposed PID experiment were:
Dumisani Magubane (EDO)
Nomonde Mncube (EDO)
Khotsofalang Matekase (Intern EDO)
Three Selected Broiler EFGs
The experiment was conducted in the Matatiele and Underberg Region of the Eastern Cape and KZN.
9.7Systems Compared
Figure 44: Traditional/existing broiler rearing method Figure 45: Inkukukaya cage broiler rearing
PS. No vaccinations were provided for both systems as day-olds were vaccinated prior to purchase
9.8.1Joint-Learning Experience
Participants were not familiar with the PID method of learning and were used to being taught the ‘right
way’ by outsiders. It was clear that not all participants were committed to the joint learning process.
9.8.2Experimental Result
Mortalities were higher on Treatment 1 (Traditional Method) at 17.8% vs 12% (Treatment 2) however
birds reared in the Inkukukaya cages were generally weaker than the other birds with some birds
showing signs of lameness. This was thought to be the result of the hardened floor surface of the plastic
moulded cage. It was felt that vaccinations should have been administered to both treatments.
Feed Provision
Broilers eat an average of 1kg starter, 1.5kg grower and 1.5kg finisher (no brooding, and lighting).
Treatment 1 (Traditional Method) consumed 3.9kg of feed and Treatment 2 (Inkukukaya system) birds
consumed 3.6kg
The weight of broilers to be slaughtered on average is 2.4kg at 6 weeks. Treatment 1 (Traditional
Method) had an average weight of 2.1kg and Treatment 2 (Inkukukaya system), 2.6kg at 6 weeks
Feed conversion ratio
Treatment 1 (Traditional Method) FCR = 1.86 per 1kg of live weight
Treatment 2 (Inkukhukhaya system) FCR = 1.38 per 1 kg of live weight
Birds were removed from the Inkukukaya cage due to leg problems, and therefore true weights
could not be compared at the end of the cycle
Records were not being kept as agreed upon.
Adapt by using Inkukhukhaya method for brooding, 1 2 weeks
Adopted the Inkukhukhaya method for full rearing cycle (6 weeks), start selling early (at a lower
price) or obtain bigger weights at 6 weeks
Selling early is useful since rural markets are not reliable; sales are intermittent. It prevents feed
Create a weekly timetable for member duty to ensure everyone contributes
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Tarwireyi L & Fanadzo M, (2013). Production of indigenous chickens for household food security in rural
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: A situation analysis, African Journal of Agricultural Research
Mayende’s household: (from left) nests placed inside hut as hens turn broody, mother hen kept in dairy crate with young chicks, as chicks get
older they are kept in a chicken coop with the mother hen until old enough to go outside.
Mam Zondo’shousehold (from left): Nests collected and placed in hut as hens turn broody, mother hen placed in dairy crate with young
chicks, as chicks get older they are kept in a chickencoop with the mother hen, when indoors chicks are allowed to roam freely, at three
months, chicks are weaned
Phumzile Phakathis’shousehold (from left top and bottom), hens placed in hut as they turn broody, mother hen placed in dairy crate with
chicks, as chicks multiply they are in a chicken coop and after three months, chicks are weaned.
DayTo Do (Eg Vaccinations) MortsNotes (Eg Very hot weather)
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Group Name
Date Placed
No.Mass (g)
Treatment Number
Group Name
Date Placed
Notes (Eg Condition of bird)
DateCustomerUnits PriceTotal
Treatment Number
Group Name
Date Placed