Advancing a holistic systems approach for sustainable cattle development programmes in South Africa: insights from sustainability assessments

Tawanda Marandure, James Bennett, Kennedy Dzama, Godswill Makombe, Lovemore Gwiriri, Cletos Mapiye

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)
    92 Downloads (Pure)


    Efforts to exploit the central roles of cattle to drive agriculture and rural development in low-income countries recorded limited success owing to their narrow focus on modernizing and commercializing low-input cattle farming. Most programs failed to take cognizance of the heterogeneous range of complex relationships between the environmental, economic, social and institutional challenges that limit low-input cattle farming. The current qualitative literature review evaluates the environmental, economic and social sustainability delivery impacts of the leading cattle development programs in the low-input farming sector in South Africa using a holistic systems approach. A mixed method procedure involving stratified sampling was used to allocate local and international-based programs while, purposive sampling was used to select programs with a wider scale of operation. The review then draws on the crosscutting key constraints emerging from the case studies to provide a better grounding for subsequent sustainability sensitive recommendations. Local-based cattle development programs advanced more market-led interventions while, their international-based counterparts had more interventions including, soil and rangeland improvement. The narrow focus by both local and international developmental programs is inadequate to address a wide array of environmental, economic, social, technical and institutional challenges faced by low-input cattle producers in South Africa.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)827-858
    Number of pages32
    JournalAgroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
    Issue number7
    Early online date23 Jan 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2020

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems on 23/01/2020, available online:

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    • Cattle development programmes
    • holistic systems approach
    • low-input farmers
    • sustainability

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
    • Development
    • Agronomy and Crop Science


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