Timber-Based Mixed Farming/Agroforestry Benefits: A Case Study of Smallholder Farmers in Limpopo Province, South Africa

  • Phokele MaponyaEmail author
  • Sonja L. Venter
  • Christiaan Philippus Du Plooy
  • Gerhard R. Backeberg
  • Sylvester Mpandeli
  • Edward Nesamvuni


Agroforestry is considered as “a sustainable land use system that includes the use of woody perennial, agricultural crops and animals in combination to achieve beneficial ecological and economical interactions for food, fiber and livestock production”. However, limited understanding, incorrect information, insufficient awareness and a negative mindset could hinder the benefits of this practice. The survey was conducted in Limpopo Province by the Agricultural Research Council, University of Venda and Water Research Commission (WRC). The research is fully funded by the WRC. The aim of the survey was to identify and describe the farmer’s benefits from timber-based mixed farming/ agroforestry cultivation in Limpopo Province. A total of 65 smallholder farmers participated in the study and were spread in districts as follows: Vhembe (40), Capricorn (21) and Mopani (4). Sixty-five potential smallholder agroforestry farmers were selected through a “purposive sampling technique” from the list of farmers’ provided by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and Forestry South Africa Limpopo. Quantitative and qualitative designs were adopted along with the use of questionnaire, stakeholder’s discussion and field observations. Data was coded, captured and analysed using SPSS. The results indicated that some farmers in Limpopo Province were generating income through renting of farms for grazing and selling trees to the communities to build shelter, kraals, medicinal purposes, fuelwood, etc. Those farmers with access to water were able to grow crops and sell their produce at local communities, local municipality and international market. The majority of farmers also indicated that they were also benefiting from nitrogen fixation, increased crop production, economic gain, soil conservation and improved soil quality and sequestration of atmospheric carbon as a result of timber-based mixed farming/agroforestry practice. The identified farmers’ benefits were in line with some of the researchers’ field observations. It is thus recommended that stakeholders should take note of the benefits identified by farmers in an attempt to increase agroforestry farmers’ participation.


Agroforestry Mixed farming Limpopo Province 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phokele Maponya
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sonja L. Venter
    • 1
  • Christiaan Philippus Du Plooy
    • 1
  • Gerhard R. Backeberg
    • 2
  • Sylvester Mpandeli
    • 2
  • Edward Nesamvuni
    • 3
  1. 1.Agricultural Research Council – Vegetable and Ornamental PlantsPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Water Research CommissionPretoriaSouth Africa
  3. 3.University of VendaThohoyandouSouth Africa

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