Authors: A Louw & D Jordaan

Keyword: micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, small-scale farmers, small-scale food producers, SMEs, South Africa


A survey of 52 smallholder fresh produce farmers was conducted in the Gauteng province of South Africa to grasp how risk and its management affect the mainstreaming of smallholder farmers into formal, high-value markets. The study employed a supply chain analysis approach, which focused on the functions and risks that occur along the fresh produce chain. The results highlight the risks that impede the participation of smallholder farmers in formal, high-value chains. At the production level, risk is prominent from input procurement through to the post-harvest stage of the chains. At the retail and consumption level, risks are linked to the adherence to quality and quantity standards, including prescribed packaging, grading, labelling and traceability and transport requirements. As a result of these risks across the formal chain, smallholder farmers often resort to distributing their products in low-value informal markets. The consequence is that smallholder farmers tend to remain trapped in poverty, in part, because of their risk appetites and their ability to bear risk. 8Further research is required in the areas pertaining to smallholder farmers’ risk appetite and risk-bearing ability and mechanisms to deal with the particular risks in the value chain that impede their all-round ability to escape the “smallholder dilemma”.