FARMNET Research

The FARMNET research project, co-hosted by the Dean’s Office at Agri-Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch, seeks to analyse the various ways in which smallholder farmers cooperate through the formation of networks, groupings and associations, and to propose and test enhanced farmer network structures that can be adopted by smallholder farmers to facilitate market access.


FARMNET focuses on smallholder farmers, particularly those involved in fresh produce and livestock, who are currently seeking to transform from subsistence to engaging with the market. These farmers, who typically fall into the category of market-oriented smallholders in loose value chains contribute significantly to the food security of the most vulnerable populations, both in rural and urban areas, and should be supported to establish sustainable market relationships.

A key aspect of the work is to act as a boundary organization between these farmers and other societal actors including academics, researchers and policymakers amongst others. In order to achieve its objectives the FARMNET project consisted of the following activities:


  1. Convening a core team of specialists
  2. Development of a smallholder farmer network database
  3. Compilation of a smallholder farmer network literature review
  4. Stakeholder dialogue interviews and the development of a synthesis report
  5. Stakeholder workshop
  6. In depth case studies
  7. Development of a concept paper
  8. Implementation of concept or model in pilot phase
  9. Media and information dissemination

Farmers form organised structures to support a cause or improve their livelihoods and are motivated
to organise by the possibility of gaining certain benefits including sharing information and resources, collective support through difficult times, increasing their negotiating power, achieving economies of scale, and accessing resources and other forms of external support.


For further information, please contact the programme manager, Kenneth Carden at

Project Details


FirstRand Foundation’s WesBank Fund

Start Date

August 2016

End Date

November 2016


Faculty of AgriSciences, University of Stellenbosch

Key Outputs