Small and medium-scale producers? use and credibility of information sources: implications for public extension?s financial sustainability

13 Nov 2020

Farm management information is vital for farm decision making. Identifying the dominant source of such information used by producers, its credibility and users? acceptance to contribute towards the operational costs of the delivery of services is important, considering the persistent financial problems facing public extension organizations world-wide, including South Africa. Governments have, therefore, embarked on many funding arrangements to ensure financial sustainability of public extension organizations. This paper assesses the extent of farmers? use of the public extension service relative to other sources of farm management information and its perceived credibility on users? acceptance to pay for the delivery of public extension visits. The findings presented here are based on a non-probability survey of medium-scale commercial crop farmers conducted between 1 September and 7 October 2010 in three districts of the Free State Province, South Africa. The findings show that public extension was the dominant information source for most production activities for most farmers. In contrast, most farmers depended more on their own experience/records for information on marketing, financial and environmental decisions. This notwithstanding, most producers were willing to contribute financially towards the delivery of public extension visits; such contributions have implications for its financial sustainability.