Secondly, they need basic knowledge and technical skills of what to produce, for which market and how. Thirdly, smallholder farmer organisations lack the well-built structures that farmer organisations of established commercial farmers have, with enough resources to engage appropriately qualified technocrats to handle and advice on the various aspects that impact on the sector.

Impact on national agricultural policies

Smallholder farmer organisations largely recognise and uphold their obligation to influence national policies in favour of the smallholder producers, especially to transform the sector and enable broader participation. Smallholder farmers usually join farmer organisations to derive social and economic benefits, so they have an internal rather than external focus. Also, because of the heterogeneous membership (youth, women, poorer and developing farmers), the internal expectations from the organisations are usually correspondingly diverse, exerting much pressure on the leadership of their organisations to deliver in a meaningful and measurable way to each subgroup.

One of the major challenges for the smallholder farmer organisations in South Africa was growing in a time when there was reduced government direct support to the sector as a result of deregulation.