Like many of the established commercial farmers, smallholder farmers had had no incentive to acquire marketing skills under the regulated environment, leaving them worse off after deregulation. They lacked appropriate training as well as access to marketing information and marketing infrastructure. Unlike the established commercial farmers who had commodity organisations as well as firmly rooted unions such as AgriSA and TAU SA, the majority of smallholder farmers were not nearly as well organised, especially at national level, where there was only one newly-established organisation called the National African Farmers’ Union (NAFU). They were left in the lurch, with virtually no access to information of what to produce, how to produce it, how much to produce and where to sell.

Main concerns of smallholder organisations

NAFU was established in 1991 as the first national organisation representing smallholder farmers’ interests. Its main objectives were to:

  • lobby for policy reforms aimed at levelling the field in all agricultural matters with particular reference to land acquisition, agricultural funding, market access and public policy,