Author Archives: Thabang Ramogodi and Anna-Marie (AMF) Pelser

Key factors affecting the quality of maize

Title: Key factors affecting the quality of maize

First author: Thabang Ramogodi


PhD candidate, North-West University, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Potchefstroom Campus.

BSc Plant pathology (UP), BSc (Hons) Plant pathology (UP), MSc Quality Management (UK.)

Co-author: Professor Anna-Marie (AMF) Pelser

Research Professor, North-West University, Faculty of Economic and Financial Sciences- Entity Director – GIFT, Mafikeng Campus.

HED (Home Economics, PU for CHE), B Com (UNISA), B Com Hons (PU for CHE), M Com (Industrial Psychology, NWU), PhD (Education Management, NWU)

Ensovoort, volume 42 (2021), number 6: 5


Maize is the staple food of the population in many countries. Dependence on this food source only becomes greater and greater as the growth of the population increases. If knowledge regarding the planting, harvesting and needed quality of the food source is not shared, local and export needs will soon not be able to be met, especially in the drought-stricken years. Loss of maize produced during production and after harvest due to poor quality management and a poor quality maize product also causes the problem to escalate. These losses are even greater for emerging maize farmers who are struggling to meet the minimum quality of maize production. A growing population requires a fast-growing, affordable, high-quality staple food source. This article aims to enrich the knowledge of the emerging farmers regarding the identification of factors that influence the quality of maize. It is also intended to develop and promote the understanding of these farmers and thus develop them as maize farmers by presenting the knowledge in a simplified manner so that new knowledge can blend in with existing knowledge. This paper gladly debates the knowledge required by the emerging farmer regarding the maize quality which is also defined as the range of specifications for physical and composition thresholds according to final requirements for use. Although several factors play a role in the quality of maize, not all factors are of cardinal importance. Relevant factors will play a negative role during the grading process in the delivery of maize at the silos, and it is also these factors that need attention during the growing season of maize. Relevant factors that are not addressed urgently can lead to a crop with low production. Aspects such as underdeveloped maize heads, ie maize heads without sufficient kernels as well as the presence of foreign material/objects can directly affect the quality of maize and the grading outcome. Some of these factors that are relevant include planting dates, seed cultivars, seed quality and soil quality, fungi, mycotoxins, weeds, insects, pesticides, harmful seeds, fertilizer application and more. Key factors that influence the quality of the maize are among others pre-plant factors such as soil quality, planting dates and seed quality. Factors after planting include fungi and mycotoxins, insects, weeds and poisonous seeds and after-harvesting factors include moisture content and hygiene. Information on all these factors will be transferred to emerging farmers and their knowledge regarding quality maize production illuminated and broadened. Knowledge transfer to farmers of this essential information is done in a simplified manner using an Integrative Simplification Theory (IST) that deals with a nuanced approach to simplicity and disintegration avoidance. In this matter, knowledge is power.

Keywords: Emerging farmers, Integrative Simplification Theory, Maize quality, Post-harvesting factors, Post-planting factors, Pre-planting factors

1. Introduction

The success of emerging maize farmers and the importance of maize quality are synonymous with one another. This notion is distinguished because the marketing of maize is sorely based on the quality produced. Thus, the need for emerging maize farmers to know what maize quality is and understand the factors that affect their maize’s quality is justified. Maize quality is defined as maize grain, which complies with regulatory and statutory requirements consistent with customer and consumer requirements (Van Aswegen, 2018). The maize quality can also be defined as the range of specifications for physical and compositional thresholds according to final requirements for use (Nuttall et al., 2017).

Many factors can affect the quality of maize, but not all of them are significant. Significant factors negatively affect the outcome of the grading process during the delivery of maize at the silos. Suppose those factors are not addressed throughout the growing season of maize. In that case, they may produce defective maize kernels and foreign matters directly affecting the quality of maize and the grading outcomes. Some of those factors include planting dates, seed cultivars, seed quality and soil quality, fungi, mycotoxins, weeds, insects, pesticides, noxious seeds, fertilizer application, and more.

The biggest problem is not that the factors affecting maize quality are not reported, but that these factors are disintegrated and framed difficultly for emerging maize farmers to understand. Therefore, this paper aims to identify the factors that affect maize quality and promote their understanding by developing maize farmers by presenting them in a simplified manner. This simplification is done using an Integrative Simplification Theory (IST) that deals with a nuanced approach to simplicity and disintegration avoidance. The success of this conceptual paper would also provide a solid basis for an empirical study.

2. Background

Maize (Zea mays L.) is the most important crop in South Africa. Its nutritional and economic value is primarily due to the high starch content in matured grains, accounting for about 75% of the weight. Maize has numerous applications, such as human consumption and animal feed, biofuel production and biofilm production. It is also regarded to be a source of protein and energy. Other maize uses, particularly Zeins which represent 50% of the kernel’s proteins, include being used as a raw material for films, application of plastic and coatings (Berta et al., 2014). Maize is also used as raw material for manufactured goods such as paper, textiles, medicine, paint and food (DAFF, 2018).

Maize is the world’s most distributed crop (Sendin et al., 2018). On the African continent, maize has a rich past dating from the 16th century. In Central Mexico, maize was domesticated around 1500 BC. It was then brought around 1500 AD to the African Continent, where in a relatively short time of  500 years, it rapidly spread to every corner of the continent. Now it is the biggest grain crop in Africa. First introduced in 1655 in South Africa, maize has since become a dominant food product (Sihlobo, 2018) and the most consumed crop in South Africa (Sendin et al., 2018). Maize is produced throughout South Africa, but the Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and the Northwest Provinces are the major producing areas. The average commercial maize planted every year ranges from 2.50 million to 2.8 million hectares (Sihlobo, 2018). For the majority of the South African population, it is the staple food and main feed grain. White maize accounts for 60% and yellow maize accounts for 40% of the production (DAFF, 2018).

Though annual South African domestic maize production varies considerably depending on rainfall, the average production has remained steady and good over the years. However, consumption has increased as the population has risen, and maize production will soon fail to meet regional and local demands, particularly in the drought-stricken years (Mulungu & Ng’ombe, 2019). Losses of produced maize during production and after harvesting due to poor quality management also perpetuate this problem.  These losses are even greater for emerging maize farmers struggling to fulfil minimum quality and quantity production needs (Maponya et al., 2018). Therefore, appropriate quality controls, in particular during maize production, should be given priority. In order to achieve good maize quality, the question must be asked: which key factors affect the quality of maize produced by emerging farmers?

3. Problem statement and objectives

The prospects of emerging maize farmers, reaping the benefits of their investments depends greatly on their ability to meet the minimum production requirements in terms of quality and quantity (Maponya et al., 2018).  This is crucial because the farmer’s income is directly proportional to the maize’s quality and quantity. However, maize’s quality is even more important because maize’s market value is determined by its quality level. In essence, this means the poorer the quality of maize produced, the less profitable is the farmer, which can greatly affect his sustainability. Even when many researchers have shown the value of quality management (Siva et al., 2016), emerging maize farmers are still not competent as to the factors that affect the produced maize’s quality. Most emerging maize farmers, rely mainly on extension officers to provide maize-quality-related knowledge, which is crucial for their maize production success.

This paper precedes a bigger study that aims to develop a quality management framework for emerging maize farmers in South Africa. After determining a management problem, the bigger study came into being after determining a lack of quality management framework to help emerging grain farmers improve their product quality and quantity to increase their overall business performance for sustainability (Murphy & Leonard, 2016). However, the bigger study’s success depends on a strong foundation that identifies and understands factors that affect maize quality.  Therefore, this paper aims to develop the literature foundation by identifying and understanding the key factors that affect the quality of maize and simply packaging them for maize farmers to comprehend easily. Maize farmers must be constantly informed regarding new developments in the maize industry as well as aspects that could undermine quality maize production. New trials and the outcome of the trials on the production of maize must be communicated to the emerging farmers in such a way that they will show understanding for new information and be able to implement it in order to be able to produce an excellent quality maize product. It should be borne in mind that emerging farmers must compete with experienced farmers to enter a segment of the market segment, and they must therefore be well informed.

This paper investigates the key factors affecting the quality of maize and the available best practices to mitigate those factors and present those in a simplified manner for maize farmers to comprehend. It is necessary to identify and understand those factors to have a firm foundation to develop a quality management framework for emerging maize farmers.

4. Methodology

The way a research study is performed is greatly influenced by the research methodology and the research instruments used to achieve the study’s purpose and goals. In order to respond to the research questions, this conceptual paper used only secondary data obtained through a literature search of articles from journals, Google Scholar, Emerald, and other platforms. This article precedes an empirical investigation.

5. Conceptual and theoretical framework

This section presents the conceptual and theoretical framework of the article. In order to advance and systematize knowledge about related concepts or issues, a conceptual framework links concepts, empirical research, and relevant theories (Rocco & Plakhotnik, 2009). A conceptual framework is a rationale for why a study should be conducted (Varpio et al., 2020). This study’s conceptual framework (Fig.1) highlights the relation between the key factors affecting maize quality and potential solutions. The framework suggests a transition from disintegration to simplification of potential solutions to these key factors.

Figure 1: The conceptual framework

A  theoretical framework concerns the logical creation of a connected set of premises and concepts from one or more theories to scaffold a study. It is about the researcher’s reflection on the work that he or she takes part in using a theory (Varpio et al., 2020). The Integrating Simplification Theory, which suggests a dynamic approach to business thinking and organizing, is the basis for this paper. The Integrating Simplification Theory is the process of engaging in simplicity to avoid disintegration while desisting from complexity. All types of waste due to imbalance are referred to as disintegration (Sharda, 2014). The imbalances are between the process of managing quality and emerging farmers in this study.

In this study, the Integrating simplification theory entails converting complex and disintegrated maize quality concepts to simple and integrated concepts for emerging farmers to comprehend with ease. This paper investigates the key factors affecting maize quality and the available best practices to mitigate those factors. Therefore, this theory has emerged to provide a basis to answer the main concern or the main question of the research: which key factors affect the quality of maize produced by emerging farmers?. By applying the Integrating Simplification Theory,  those factors and the best practices will be simplified for farmers to comprehend. The comprehension of these factors by emerging maize farmers will enable them to better manage maize quality and improve their income and sustainability. In order to ensure that the information in this paper reach the emerging farmers and be understood with ease, these factors can be disseminated through the use of farming workshops or information sessions, farm days, and weekly farming magazines.

6. Key factors affecting the quality of maize

Many factors can affect the quality of maize, but not all are key. Therefore this section of the paper discusses only those factors which are key. These factors are key because if not addressed during the production stage and harvesting, they will directly affect the maize’s quality, resulting in the maize not making the higher grade quality.  These factors are categorized as follows: pre-planting, post-planting and post-harvest. The section also advises emerging farmers on best practices to mitigate the effect of those factors in a simplified manner.

6.1 Pre-planting factors

Pre-planting factors are those that emerging farmers must address before the planting of maize begins.  Those factors include planting dates, quality of seeds and soil quality.

6.1.1 Soil quality

Soil quality for the study can be defined as the soil’s ability to function within an ecosystem to sustain maize crop health and maintain a quality environment (Bünemann et al., 2018; Maddonni et al., 1999). Poor soil quality can lead to poor quality maize crops and great financial loss for emerging farmers. Therefore, it is crucial to know the soil’s quality and its contents to supplement whatever is missing. For instance, poor maize crops can result from incorrect fertilization caused by a lack of knowledge of the soil content. Another example that can result in poor maize crop production is the soil’s ability to hold moisture as South Africa is an arid country where maize is often produced under dry-land conditions.

Therefore it is imperative that before engaging in maize production, the soil should be evaluated for soil functionality factors such as soil potential, soil type, and soil nutrients. The emerging farmers must know the type of fertilizers required to get a good maize crop, but that will not be possible if the soil’s functionality status is unknown. Therefore, It is essential to take a soil sample and get the soil tested by an accredited laboratory before planting commences.

6.1.2 Planting dates

Planting maize on the wrong date in the growing cycle may result in catastrophic losses. Wrong planting dates can lead to extreme heat and mid-summer drought coinciding with the most sensitive growth stage (flowering stage), which will not give the survival of the maize crop any chance. On the other hand, late maize planting can cause frost-damaged maize, resulting in maize being covered on both sides of the crown kernel with wrinkles and having a pear-like appearance (Aswegen, 2018). It is therefore essential to plant maize only when the planting conditions are optimal.

The maize planting season in South Africa is between October and mid-December. This period provides the optimum conditions required for maize crops to survive the harsh month of January when the crop’s ability to survive is tested by extreme heat and low rainfall, which can then grow to full size before winter frosts begin in late April. In essence, for planting to begin, sufficient soil temperature and groundwater are required. Germination can usually only occur if a minimum air temperature of 10 to 15 °C is maintained for seven consecutive days since no germination will occur below 10 °C (Du Plessis, 2003). The fact that weather conditions are complex and unpredictable is a well-known fact. However, early forecasts can be made about the upcoming weather patterns with the assistance of the 4IR, particularly big data and Artificial intelligence (AI). Determining whether the season prediction is normal, abnormally dry (El Niño) or abnormally wet (La Niña) is essential. Emerging farmers should also embrace 4IR, which has the opportunity to provide an important source of knowledge to enhance decision-making.

6.1.3 Planting Seeds

The best planting seeds comprise good quality seeds and the best cultivars (Aveling, 2012). Seed quality can be defined as seeds that are pure, healthy, viable and vigorous. Good cultivars contain seed-quality characteristics and others such as insect resistance, heat tolerance, drought tolerance and more. Farmer-saved maize seeds are often of poor quality, and their use by emerging farmers should be discouraged. The use of poor maize seeds for planting can result in devastating financial losses caused by poor yields. Those poor yields can result from seed-borne diseases, poor germination, and the presence of weed seeds (Barnard & Calitz, 2011).

The seed production industry has been drastically changed by technology, offering farmers more options to increase yields on the best seeds. By choosing high-yielding cultivars of good quality, yields can be easily increased. However, to make the best cultivar choices for the farmer, it is important to have a good prediction of the season ahead. In farming decision-making, this also brings to the fore the value of 4IR. Farmers would know whether to pick a long or short cultivar and select a cultivar appropriate for drier or wetter conditions with advanced knowledge of the anticipated season.

6.2 Post-plating factors

Post-planting factors that emerging farmers must address after planting maize begins immediately after planting throughout the growing process until harvesting begins.  Those factors include fungi and mycotoxins, weeds, insects, pesticides, and noxious seeds.

6.2.1 Fungi and mycotoxins

Maize fungal diseases are critical because they have a significant effect on the quality and quantity of maize. Most notably, are the fungi causing ear rots as they directly influence maize grains’ quality and quantity. Some of these ear rot-causing fungi produce mycotoxins detrimental to human and animal health, when consuming the maize products (Thompson & Raizada, 2018). Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites specific to fungal species produced when conditions are optimal during farm production, maize storage, and maize transportation (Meyer et al., 2019). The problem of fungi-infected maize and mycotoxin is also exacerbated by farmers, particularly emerging farmers who use untreated seeds from the previous season, planting late in the season mainly due to changes in rain patterns, promotion of pests and diseases through crop monoculture and no-till agriculture, and lack of control of insects such as stock bores that spread fungal infections (Alberts et al., 2019).

A multifaceted approach to the management of maize diseases and mycotoxins that includes a comprehensive understanding of agricultural activities, technologies, weather trends, climate change and the occurrence of mycotoxins is necessary (Alberts et al., 2019; Shephard et al., 2019). By employing good agricultural practices such as crop rotation, transgenic hybrids, and early planting, mycotoxin contamination can be minimized (Phokane et al., 2019). Easy, realistic, culturally acceptable, and cheaper methods of fungi-infected maize and mycotoxin reduction can be used in cases where resources and advanced technology are lacking, as is the case with emerging farmers. For example, post-harvest grain sorting and cleaning can effectively reduce fungi-infected maize and mycotoxins, while the use of enhanced varieties would be advantageous during pre-harvest (Misihairabgwi et al., 2019). Besides, the use of biologically derived products, insecticides and pesticides to control mycotoxigenic fungi and transgenic Bt hybrids to control stock borers should be encouraged (Alberts et al., 2019). In terms of aiding in the control of fungi and mycotoxins, the advent of the 4IR, especially Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and drones must never be underestimated. Big Data and AI can help emerging farmers access detailed information that can inform decisions about farming. By processing and translating it into knowledge to help farm management decision-making, AI increases the value of collected data. The conversion of data collected on individual maize plants to the whole field level can be extended to a range of magnitudes by providing monitoring information critical for identifying infected fungal crops early. With Big Data and AI, through the targeted allocation of insecticides and pesticides, emerging farmers can also increase cost allocations. Drone technology may also be employed for crop scouting and tracking, accurate insecticide and pesticides spraying, prescription map production, high-level mapping and field inspection and crop damage assessment. Drone data may generate images that monitor plant changes and indicate their health, helping farmers track their crops for diseases.

6.2.2 Insects

Insect outbreaks are typically very costly to emerging farmers because they have no financial ability to replant if their entire harvest is destroyed, resulting in them quitting farming entirely. Countless grain insects affect maize crops and inflict severe losses in yield and quality. Insects may wipe out a significant part of the harvest or cause cavities in the maize kernels’ germ or endosperm.  New invasive pests such as stem borer and fall armyworms, which can spread rapidly to disrupt maize production are the biggest threats to emerging farmers (Botha et al., 2019; Van den Berg, 2017). The most recent danger is the outbreak of cutworm infestation, which is stated to have established resistance to chemical treatments and can cause serious damage to the maize crop (Dempsey, 2020).

An integrated approach to pest management is recommended for effective insect control. Registered pesticides, biological surveillance, Bt technology, and pheromone traps should be included in the approach (Kotey et al., 2017; López-Castillo et al., 2018; Togola et al., 2018). However, synthetic pesticides can be effective in managing insects (Kamanula et al., 2011). Agricultural practices such as no-till have intensified some of the insects’ outbreaks; hence, traditional tilling practices typically control the insects by burying the worms, which kills them. However, for these controls to be effective, the role of early detection and identification can never be overemphasized. Pesticides are chemicals commonly used in maize production to combat insect pests to safeguard crop quality and enhance food safety (Freitas et al., 2017). When used properly, synthetic pesticides have been shown to provide efficient control against insects. However, they establish pesticide residues when not used correctly according to the recommended dose of use, making grain unhealthy, thus affecting its quality (Kamanula et al., 2011; Akoto et al., 2013). In the maize farming industry, pesticide residues are abundant, which significantly affects maize quality. Emerging maize farmers must therefore resolve this challenge if they want to succeed in producing high-quality maize.

6.2.3 Weeds and Poisonous seeds

Weeds can lead to a devastating loss of maize crops and poor maize quality because of poor weed management practices and insufficient resources, especially for emerging farmers. Proper weed management by emerging farmers is often affected by the poor use of mineral fertilizers and herbicides and the lack of weeding labour, which delays weeding to a stage where economic damage cannot be avoided (Mhlanga et al., 2016). Some of these weeds produce poisonous seeds when harvested together with maize. Poisonous seeds refer to seeds or part of seeds which are hazardous to human or animal health when consumed.

Weed control by emerging farmers requires adopting an integrated program that combines the best know-how and cost-effective practices. The approach must include crop competition, manual weeding, herbicides, sufficient nitrogen fertilization, and others. Crop competition is one way of controlling weeds. Crop competition includes increased planting density, reduced row spacing, and competitive cultivars with the ability to suppress weeds. In combination with other agronomic practices, crop competition practices can increase their effectiveness in controlling weeds. Crop competition is economical and particularly important for emerging farmers who sometimes cannot afford herbicides (Mhlanga et al., 2016). Moreover, sufficient  Nitrogen fertilizer is critical to promote the maize crop’s strong growth, which can outcompete the weeds (Khan et al., 2012).

6.3 Post-harvest factors

Post-harvest factors refer to those that emerging farmers must address from harvesting maize until delivery at the grain storage facility or the next step in the value chain.  Those factors include moisture content and hygiene.

6.3.1 Moisture content

Moisture content is critical to maize’s economic value as it affects its quality, premiums, discounts, and storability (Hellevang, 1995). Harvesting maize with excess moisture can cause heat damage to maize due to internal fermentation or external heat. Excess moisture can also cause sprouted maize resulting in maize kernels developing roots or visible sprouts, and the shoots or plumules in the germ become visibly discoloured (Van Aswegen, 2018). Moreover, moisture can also affect important quality factors such as breakage susceptibility, hardness and kernel density.  (Dorsey-Redding et al., 1990). In the market system, maize is often affected by biological agents such as insects, fungi, and rodents. Their proliferation is influenced by the grain’s moisture content, amongst other factors (Manu et al., 2019). Similarly, high moisture, coupled with high relative humidity creates optimal conditions for mycotoxigenic fungi to produce mycotoxins (Afzal et al., 2017).

Almost all emerging farmers in South Africa do not have the resources to store their harvested maize on their farms. Thus, immediately after harvest, they deliver their maize at the silos nearby to sell or store at a cost. This relieves the farmers of the tedious and difficult task of self-storage, which requires infrastructure and the know-how of grain storage. However, the farmers can only deliver their maize at the silo only when the moisture is 14% or lower because the lower moisture minimizes maize deterioration after harvesting and during storage. Otherwise, they will have to pay drying costs which will eat into their small profit margins. Emerging farmers can wait until the maize has dried to an appropriate moisture content before delivery to the silo to avoid paying the drying costs. However, waiting too long will result in maize being over-dried, causing it to weigh less while maize is sold based on weight. Also, waiting too long has risks for the the crop still associated with natural disasters, pests, animals and diseases.

6.3.2 Hygiene

As much as all the abovementioned factors are paramount for maintaining maize quality, the importance of hygiene during harvesting and maize transportation to the silos cannot be over-emphasized. If higher hygiene practices are not observed during harvesting, foreign matter will form part of the harvest, downgrading the harvest quality. Foreign matter includes any other matter found in maize grains and is partially allowed to be present in maize’s consignment provided they do not exceed the permissible allowance. However, there is a zero-tolerance for stones, glass, coal and metals; thus, they are not allowed in any maize sample. Also, during maize transportation, zero-tolerable substances such as animal dung and fuel can contaminate the maize (Van Aswegen, 2018).

General precautions, including avoidance of possible foreign matter sources and other contaminants, should be exercised from planting through harvesting and delivery to the silo. Maize should not be harvested while it is raining to keep it from getting wet.  If it rains after loading or during transportation of maize, use a tarp to cover the load. Every piece of equipment used for harvesting must be inspected, washed and sanitized. Take great care when handling the field corn to prevent contamination and keep the maize of good quality. Before transporting maize, the trucks should be inspected and washed to avoid maize contamination. The inspection and cleaning are conducted to avoid maize contamination by other grains, bird droppings, and fuel.

7. Discussion

While proper quality management in many organizations and industries has been shown to have the power to enhance overall business performance (Siva et al., 2016), emerging farmers still struggle to meet the minimum production requirements in terms of quality and quantity (Maponya et al., 2018). The lack of knowledge of the key factors affecting maize quality has been identified as one reason for that failure. This lack of understanding is because these factors that affect emerging maize farmers’ quality are disintegrated and framed in a difficult manner. Therefore, this study aims to identify the key factors that influence maize quality and promote understanding for emerging maize farmers by presenting information to them in a simplified way. This simplification is done by basing this study on the Integrative Simplification Theory (IST) that explores a rigorous approach to simplicity and avoidance of disintegration.

The key factors that affect maize quality are presented in a simple integrated manner through a framework that categorizes those factors into three categories: pre-planting, post-planting, and pre-and post-harvesting (figure 2). Pre-planting factors must be addressed during the planning phase of planting. Those factors include planting between October and mid-December, which provides ideal conditions for the maize crop’s survival and prosperity, planting in soil of superior quality, using great quality seeds genetically modified to be resistant against some insects (Bt) and herbicides (Round-up ready). Post-planting factors must be addressed immediately after planting until the harvesting of the maize crop. Those factors include scouting for and controlling fungi, weeds and poisonous seeds, and insects. Pre- and post-harvest factors are those that must be addressed around the harvesting period. Those factors include harvesting the maize when moisture is below the acceptable level of 14% and ensuring that high hygiene levels are observed throughout the harvesting period, including the maize’s transportation to the silos or a maize processing plant. Moreover, higher standards of food safety and good agricultural practices should be adhered to from start to finish to ensure that high-quality maize safe for human and animal consumption is produced.

Figure 2: The key factors affecting the maize quality of emerging farmers

8. Conclusion

Maize quality is central to emerging farmers’ well-being because their income depends sorely on maize quality and quantity. Maize quality is also crucial for the marketing of grain. Thus, emerging farmers must understand and comprehend the key factors that affect maize quality and possible solutions to counter those factors’ negative effects. However,  these factors must be presented simply for emerging farmers to comprehend for that to be possible. Therefore, this study has grouped those factors into three categories: pre-planting (planting dates, soil quality and planting seeds), post-planting (fungi and mycotoxins, insects, and weeds and poisonous seeds), and pre-and post-harvesting (moisture content and hygiene). The simplification of these key factors will ensure that the farmers’ easy comprehension will improve their maize quality management knowledge and enhance their chances of being more profitable and sustainable.

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Critical factors affecting the success of emerging farmers in South Africa

Title: Critical factors affecting the success of emerging farmers in South Africa

First author: Thabang Ramogodi


PhD candidate, North-West University, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Potchefstroom Campus.

BSc Plant pathology (UP), BSc (Hons) Plant pathology (UP), MSc Quality Management (UK)

Co-author: Professor Anna-Marie (AMF) Pelser


Research Professor, North-West University, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences- Entity Director – GIFT, Mafikeng Campus.

HED (Home Economics, PU for CHE), B Com (UNISA), B Com Hons (PU for CHE), M Com (Industrial Psychology, NWU), PhD (Education Management, NWU)

Corresponding author: Professor A.M.F. Pelser: e-mail: or

Ensovoort, volume 41 (2020), number 10: 3


As an inseparable part of African culture and the African continent, agriculture, and in particular emerging agriculture, will play a crucial role in the future of the South African economy. This paper provides an in-depth analysis of the crucial factors that affect the success of emerging South African farmers. Farming sounds like a fascinating option with massive financial benefits. However, it is not always a fruitful venture. The typical African grows up with the ground under his feet and the sun on his forehead. The African man is “a man of the soil”, and farming is an inextricable part of what it means to be African. Yet few emerging farmers are prosperous. Emerging farmer challenges should be addressed sooner rather than later. South African agriculture is a dualistic concept. Emerging farmers are involved in both small-scale as well as established commercial farming. Commercial farmers’ survival is assured, but subsistence farmers find themselves at the bottom of the food chain. Most emerging farmers struggle to succeed as commercial farmers. Emerging agriculture is a complicated business fraught with multiple challenges. Potential solutions should be evaluated and presented in an integrated manner. Precise programmes and solutions are needed for emerging farmers. Researchers attribute this trend to a variety of challenges, including land access, infrastructure availability, resources such as water and rain, market access, lack of funding for agriculture, and poor resource support from the government which impedes growth and mechanisation. These emerging farmers sometimes lack knowledge about agricultural practices and technological disadvantages. Research and development, extension services, and, above all, a proper framework for the quality of produced products, is often missing. The biggest challenge facing emerging farmers in South Africa is the inability to convert from subsistence farming to commercial farming. However, this challenge can be overcome with effort and dedication on the part of emerging farmers and good governance from the government. This paper looks across several literature streams at the development of new relationships among the many stakeholders affecting the success of emerging farmers in achieving conceptual integration. This will build a new holistic perspective which is widely applicable.

Keywords: emerging farmers, critical factors, socio-economic challenges, financial challenges, quality management, integration theory

1. Introduction

Agriculture is crucial for the future of the South African economy, especially emerging agriculture. Nonetheless, for several reasons, most emerging farmers do not succeed and rarely advance to become successful commercial farmers. Emerging farming is an intricate business and is associated with a basket of challenges. The approaches suggested for solving their problems should be analysed and viewed in an integrated manner.

Emerging farmers in South Africa have been increasingly unsuccessful for many years now. Several research studies have looked at the factors affecting the success of emerging farmers (Sebola, 2018:2). Researchers have attributed this trend to a variety of factors, such as a lack of funding for agriculture, inadequate government support in terms of resources (impacting growth and mechanisation), a lack of research and development, a lack of extension services and weak infrastructure, and many more (Khapayi & Celliers, 2016:25; Sebola, 2018:2). Most emerging farmers have endeavoured to be commercial farmers (Khapayi & Celliers, 2016:26), however, Manenzhe et al., (2016:426) and Sebola (2018:1) maintain that emerging farmers rarely become commercial farmers.

Thus, the biggest challenge facing emerging farmers in South Africa is the inability to change from being subsistence farmers to being commercial farmers (Khapayi & Celliers, 2016:25). This is due to that lack of an integrated view of the factors affecting the success of emerging farmers. As a result, research studies look at the problems of emerging farmers in becoming commercial farmers in an integrated way so as to propose solutions that are fit for purpose. Integration can be achieved using the conceptual integration theory, which asserts that different ideas can be combined in a network of mental spaces to create new meaning.

2. Background

The importance of agriculture in South Africa cannot be overemphasised. Agriculture feeds thousands of people and is a significant contributor to jobs in South Africa. Agriculture is also vital for economic growth and food security in the country. The agricultural sector absorbs approximately 5.2% of the country’s workforce, which is 1.8% lower than the figure reported in 2011 (Mabaya, 2011:11 and Lotriet et al., 2017:456). The workforce consists mostly of unskilled and semi-qualified workers with a low level of education. Primary agriculture is directly responsible for 3% of GDP, and the sector as a whole contributes up to 12% (Mabaya, 2011:11 and Lotriet et al., 2017:456).

Agricultural activity in South Africa is composed of emerging as well as commercially developed farmers, who are also referred to as commercial farmers. Although emerging farmers are critical for job creation, food security and economic growth, they are responsible for only about 5% of the total agricultural output that is marketed. In general, South Africa is estimated to have around 1.3 to 3 million emerging farmers, who are mainly located in the former homelands and tribal areas (Lotriet et al., 2017:457). Moreover, Sebola (2018:2) states that there are around 2.5 million households engaged in primary agriculture, which is a reliable indicator of South African agricultural growth. Nevertheless, only about 200 000 emerging farmers are commercially orientated (Sebola, 2018:2). The lower number of emerging farmers who are commercially orientated is a worrying factor if South Africa is to be successful in growing the economy and jobs and achieving food security. They are calling on government and other policymakers to exert more effort in ensuring that more emerging farmers are guided and supported on their journey to becoming commercial farmers.

A clear definition of emerging farmers is crucial for policymakers and other related parties (financing institutions, researchers and training providers) to develop specific programmes and solutions targeted at emerging farmers (Mabaya, 2011:3). The definition of emerging farmers often comes with great ambiguity in the context of South Africa.

Emerging farmers can be defined using a categorisation model developed by the South African Land Bank that puts the farmers on a scale from subsistence, micro-scale, small-scale, and emerging, to established commercial farmers. Some emerging farmers are involved in small-scale farming and the others are involved in established commercial farming. The dualistic South African agriculture is characterised by developed upper-end commercial farmers and lower-end subsistence farmers (Mabaya, 2011:3). Emerging farmers can also be described as farmers who strive for a successful harvest under physical, mental and socio-economic constraints and who need help from an external facilitator to achieve this target (Gelderblom, 2003:1). Farmers who wish to participate in formal markers but have restricted access due to various difficulties but want to sell more of their goods and are previously disadvantaged can also be referred to as emerging farmers (Senyolo, 2007:3).

This study focuses primarily on grain-focused emerging farmers. The South African grain industry plays an essential role in the agricultural value chain and accounts for 25-33% of the total agricultural output gross value. The South African “grain industry” consists of grains such as maize, wheat, sorghum, barley, and oilseeds, including sunflower, soybean, canola, and groundnuts. Maize is South Africa’s most important grain crop because it is a staple food for many people and also a significant feed grain (Lotriet et al., 2017:456). In this study, all the different grain types will be referred to as grains. Emerging grain farmers have the same problems as other emerging farmers. They seldom succeed as profitable and sustainable commercial farmers.

3. Problem statement

It is clear from the preceding discussion that a deeper understanding of the factors affecting the success of emerging grain farmers is needed. This is crucial because much of the research about factors influencing emerging farmers’ success is internally incoherent, unduly fragmented, and does not look at the problems as a more coherent whole. While many authors have studied factors that affect the success of emerging farmers, socio-economic (Kekana & Maponya, 2017; Khapayi & Celliers, 2016:25; Maponya et al., 2018), financial (Sebola, 2018:1-7) or technical (Maponya et al., 2018:421) factors are usually researched in a fragmented manner. The gaps created by the incoherence makes it difficult for authorities to establish policies that deal comprehensively with issues that affect the success of emerging farmers. Therefore, the study aims to answer the questions, What are the critical factors affecting the success of emerging farmers? and How can those factors be presented in a more coherent, integrated manner?

This study, therefore, aims to investigate the critical factors influencing the success of emerging South African farmers in detail. It focuses on establishing new relationships among the numerous factors that affect the success of emerging farmers, and conceptual integration across several streams of literature. It will establish a new integrated, generally applicable view. The study examines the factors affecting emerging farmers in-depth, to bring these factors together and present an alternative and integrated view.

The objectives of this article are to investigate the factors affecting the success of emerging farmers, determine the best practices for mitigating those factors, and recommend an integrated view of those factors.

4. Methodology

How a research study is conducted depends to a large extent on the research methods used and the research tools employed to achieve the objectives of the study. This conceptual paper used secondary data only which consisted of journals, books, and theses, leveraging secondary data analysis to answer the research question posed by the paper. This article serves as the predecessor of the empirical enquiry.

5. Conceptual framework

This section presents the conceptual framework of the article. The article studied the factors that affect the success of emerging farmers, which is referred to as the emerging farming problem and is a conceptual framework that looks at what deters subsistence farmers from becoming commercial farmers (Fig. 1). The possible solutions are investigated using secondary research. An integrated view is presented later in the study for the purpose of understanding those factors.

Figure 1: The conceptual framework

6. Critical factors affecting the success of emerging farmers

6.1 Access to land

Access to viable and adequate land is crucial to emerging farmers’ survival because a small farm lacks economies of scale (Wilk et al., 2013:281). In support, Khapayi & Celliers (2016:39) argues that a lack of emerging farmer access to productive land is one of the critical influences of the participation of emerging farmers in agricultural markets. Commercial farmers often have tracts of land that are less impacted by climate change problems in different areas. Big farms produce more income and can be used as collateral for banks to access financing (Wilk et al., 2013:281).

Agriculture, and particularly in the form of emerging farmers, is a vital driver of the economy, but access to capital, land and markets have often been cited as barriers to entry. Emerging farming is not just a business but a multi-generational investment that will benefit generations to come if done well. The allocation or re-allocation of land for farming, mainly to the previously disadvantaged, will go a long way in reducing poverty and unemployment. As a result, the government needs to speed up land reform aimed at emerging farmers to give them farms or increase their farmland, so that they can be used as collateral for finance from banks. Initiatives such as the Agriculture Development Agency (AGDA), a new government-backed private-sector initiative aimed at supporting the agricultural economy among emerging farmers, will also go a long way towards alleviating this problem. AGDA’s primary goals include to foster greater social justice through the development of enablers that will help drive sustainable land reform programmes and lead to shifting patterns of land ownership in South Africa.

6.2 Infrastructure

Agriculture, especially farming, relies heavily on infrastructure availability. Research shows that government infrastructure provision has been on a sharp decline over the last few decades. For example, conservation work subsidies have dropped from R6.4 billion per annum in the 1980s to about R176 million in the 2000s (Black et al., 2014:3). Furthermore, Black et al. (2014:3) argues that programmes such as the Community-based Public Works Program (CWP), the Poverty Relief and Infrastructure Investment Fund, and the Consolidated Municipal Infrastructure Programme showed no positive effects. Irrigation schemes have also not been maintained in recent years (Black et al., 2014:3). Road shortages, poor road infrastructure and lack of transport services are among the reasons why emerging farmers are struggling. These deter access to rewarding markets (Senyolo et al., 2009:208).

Infrastructure such as farming facilities, roads, and communication lines need to be improved, as they restrict the development of emerging farmers (Khapayi & Celliers, 2016:38). Also, resources such as road infrastructure and transport systems need to be improved to allow emerging farmers to participate in high-remuneration markets (Senyolo et al., 2009:208). Likewise, government policy should address access to services for emerging farmers to stimulate agricultural growth (Chaminuka et al., 2008:365). This fight to improve the plight of emerging farmers cannot rest with the government only. Big corporations, particularly those involved in agriculture, must also play a role in the development and maintenance of infrastructure. Grain storage companies, for instance, have their silo infrastructure located in farming areas where roads are in poor conditions. They should assist by building and maintaining roads for the farming community so that emerging farmers can deliver grains to their silos.

6.3 Water resources

Water access remains one of the significant resources that hinder the success of emerging farmers. This lack of water access can be attributed to an uncoordinated institutional mechanism for helping emerging farmers, resulting in them not engaging in the formulation of strategies and policies (Ncube, 2018:89-96). As a result of this lack of access to adequate and reliable water sources, emerging farmers have nothing or less to send to the markets. Production has ceased or they have produced less (Kekana & Maponya, 2017:136).

Improved collaboration between institutions and policymakers and better relationships between emerging farmers and institutions are needed to reduce resource scarcity (Ncube, 2018:89). Policymakers should also put more effort into accurately identifying factors that hinder emerging farmers’ progress and direct more resources towards addressing this problem (Kekana & Maponya, 2017:136). Government needs to provide emerging farmers with water through water allocation reform and catchment management agencies. However, before providing the catchments, the policymakers need to first understand emerging farmer characteristics in terms of resource endowment, land ownership and size, and farming goals, among other things. Policymakers must appreciate that there is no “one size fits all” policy that can solve emerging farmer problems. Such a policy may worsen the underperformance. Providing water before the characteristics of emerging farmers are understood might therefore lead to this scarce resource being wasted.

6.4 Access to markets

Markets play a vital role in maximising the income of emerging farmers. South African markets are, however, unpredictable, poorly structured, and not easily accessible to emerging farmers (Senyolo et al., 2009:212). One of the stumbling blocks to emerging farmers’ success is the inability to consistently supply good quality produce. It hinders their chances of accessing the markets. This is also perpetuated by the lack of information that emerging farmers need to negotiate reasonable market prices, as well as small operations (Jordaan & Grove, 2013:508; Senyolo et al., 2009:212). Access to market knowledge, quality of transport, and the type of roads that lead to markets have a significant influence on emerging farmer market participation (Kekana & Maponya, 2017:130; Maponya et al., 2018:421).

The lack of access to markets by those involved in small-scale farming activities can be resolved through concerted action and the unique establishment of agricultural cooperatives. However, for these cooperatives to be successful, the role of social capital in the form of trust, social networks and shared norms in driving performance and the transfer of farmer-to-farmer skills cannot be overlooked (Jordaan & Grove, 2013:508). Cooperatives are a step in the right direction in resolving production problems related to the guarantee of product quality and increased market access. However, these cooperatives do need to address critical issues such as strategy, overall management support, and the marketing needed for emerging farmer success (Bitzer & Bijman, 2014:167-183). In order for these cooperatives to work successfully, they should consist of various farmers with different sets of skills and of varying sizes. These cooperatives should have strong training skills in dealing with diseases and pests, and damage caused by erratic weather. They should also be able to transfer entrepreneurial skills and financial education.

6.5 Government support

Government is not fully exercising its role in providing funding, extension services, and research and development to emerging farmers. Many contend that if the government provides adequate support to emerging farmers, they are likely to succeed in becoming commercial farmers and contribute positively to the agricultural economy in South Africa (Sebola, 2018:2). Government support through extension officer services has been abysmal to almost non-existent (Wilk et al., 2013:281) and (Kekana & Maponya, 2017:136). Poor support services by the government’s extension officers contribute to the failures of emerging farmers (Khapayi & Celliers, 2016:37).

Extension officers can play an essential role in helping the government support emerging farmers. These ground forces are assigned by the government to pass on expertise and train emerging farmers for success. Therefore, capacity creation in terms of having enough capable extension officers is imperative. Nevertheless, extension officers need to provide a clear understanding of the challenges faced by developing farmers in order for this support service to be carried out with precision. They should also be skilled in technology, politics, corporate affairs, mentoring, and monitoring and evaluation. The government also needs to focus on developing experts in particular fields such as forestry, marketing, and management to better support the land reform programmes.

6.6 Education and knowledge

Some level of education and awareness regarding new farming techniques, pesticides, farming methods, machinery, breeding, crop varieties, environment, and basic business management is essential for any farmer’s survival. Regrettably, emerging farmers are mostly deprived of such information because they rely exclusively on extension officers (Kekana & Maponya, 2017:136; Wilk et al., 2013:281). Farming is also a business, and some knowledge and skills in banking, record keeping, labour management and methods of agricultural production are essential (Khapayi & Celliers, 2016:38). The training of emerging farmers is, therefore, key to their success (Manenzhe et al., 2016:36).

Training emerging farmers is vital to their success (Manenzhe et al., 2016:36). The government should play a leading role in training and developing emerging farmers, while also understanding that being uneducated does not necessarily mean that one will not be successful in farming (Khapayi & Celliers, 2016:39). Training should focus not only on technological competence but also on business competence, including the development of marketing strategies for accessing and protecting the channels of markets. Furthermore, better access to knowledgeable advisors and training is needed to improve communication across and within emerging farming communities through knowledge sharing forums. Extension officers, training providers, big successful commercial farmers, farming experts, and other relevant stakeholders can also play a significant role in training and education. Besides passing knowledge on to emerging farmers, they can encourage the formation of forums where they consistently also participate with the aim of sharing knowledge. Monthly forum meetings can be arranged where different topics, including the factors affecting emerging farmers, business management, entrepreneurship, and technical issues can be discussed. However, public-private partnerships will be necessary for the facilitation and funding of such informative forums.

6.7 Agricultural practices

Their chosen agricultural practice will affect emerging farmers’ production and profitability, as well as the quality of the produce. Emerging farmers will, in most cases, choose between the two most popular agricultural practices, namely conservation and conventional. Conventional farming involves a system of tillage practices, such as soil disturbance and ploughing, resulting in a fine seedbed and the removal of crop residues from the previous season (Shahzad et al., 2017:24634). Alternatively, conservation farming is defined as a resource-saving proposition that can improve the soil’s biological, physical and chemical properties through permanent soil cover preservation, marginal soil disturbance, and varied crop rotation (Eskandari et al., 2016:93). While there is another farming method called organic farming, it is not appropriate for emerging farmers. It requires different skills, more land to grow the same number of tons, and high nitrogen requirements requiring careful soil fertility management. Knowledge of different farming practices is therefore essential for emerging farmers to be able to choose the best practices according to their needs.

Since emerging farmers have limited resources, conservation agriculture is a better option for them. Conservation agriculture makes crop production less vulnerable to severe weather conditions, especially drought and climate change, and is conducive to producing quality (Satterfield et al., 2018:453). Agricultural conservation practices, particularly non-till practices, also reduces soil erosion and runoff, and results in improved soil organic matter (SOM) content, improved soil physical properties and improved soil water retention (Sithole & Magwaza, 2019:1-2). While an increase in conservation farming could mitigate climate change and ensure greater resilience for farming businesses with the potential for higher yields, this method of production still has hurdles to tackle. Emerging farmers should be capacitated with knowledge of conservation agriculture. The government should develop and promote pro-conservation agriculture and cover the cost of new machinery and change.

6.8 Technological advancement

Today, agriculture is proud of technological advances, such as the use of GPS, cloud-based sensors (Jaiganesh et al., 2017:256) and precision farming technology (D’Antoni et al., 2012:121). GPS and sensors allow data analysis and sharing, while information technology (IT) and agricultural clouds provide farmers with specialised expertise, including advice on crop planting, the application of fertilisers, pricing, plant diseases, scientific research findings, weather patterns, guidance on conventional planting techniques, and more (Balamurugan et al., 2016:713). However, due to lack of knowledge and financial resources, emerging farmers have not fully embraced these technologies (Jaiganesh et al., 2017:256).

Innovations such as genetically modified ( GM ) crops have made great strides in recent years and can readily be embraced by emerging farmers (Gouse et al., 2016:27). GM crops have benefits such as high yields, insect control, labour savings, taste, quality and ease of farming, (Gouse et al., 2016:27-38). Farmers are also shielded from extreme losses in yield due to high temperatures caused by climate change (Tesfaye et al., 2017:959). Technological applications (apps) such as the award-winning “Khula” software, can also help solve some emerging farmer problems. This app connects emerging farmers to the formal marketplace by combining their crops through the platform to meet the requirements to supply their products on a larger scale. Emerging farmers can list their goods and monitor the level of inventories in real-time. They can also do simple production forecasts. The app also includes a marketplace for crowd-sourcing, where farmers can meet market demand and incoming orders. The app is already connecting over 3000 farmers nationally and is free on Google play store and the Apple app store.

6.9 Climate change

Climate change is one of the most talked-about topics in the world. Data shows that this trend is taking place and it warrants a shift in farming activities (Makuvaro et al., 2018:75). Climate change significantly affects the agricultural sector, including emerging farmers (Makuvaro et al., 2018:75). Changes in weather patterns that involve decreased rainfall, increased temperatures and increased frequency of severe weather events such as droughts and floods are characteristic of climate change. Climate change is expected to increase climatic variability in most areas and thus decrease mean rainfall, negatively impacting rain-fed agriculture (Findlater et al., 2019:47). This is most worrying because most of the emerging agricultural systems in South Africa are rainfed (Makuvaro et al., 2018:75).

Sustainable agricultural practices (SAPs) can address some of the problems of agricultural production by sequestering carbon to mitigate climate change, raise crop yields and income, and boost soil fertility. SAPs include rotation of crops or intercropping with legumes, conservation of tillage, preservation of residues, complimentary use of organic fertilisers, soil and water conservation by stone and soil bunds, and improved crop varieties (Manda et al., 2016:2). Conservation agriculture (CA) plays a crucial role in sustainable agriculture. As a climate adaptation strategy, CA can help emerging farmers combat the impact of climate change (Findlater et al., 2019:47). Emerging farmers need to embrace conservation agriculture to transition to climate-resilient agriculture (Satterfield et al., 2018:453). Crop insurance is also crucial for mitigating the risks associated with climate change. For emerging farmers, therefore, crop insurance must be subsidised by governments, non-governmental organisations and other aggregators to make crop insurance affordable, and accessible to previously uninsured farmers. Public-private partnerships are also required to provide emerging farmers with crop insurance solutions. Moreover, training should be given to emerging farmers about the insurance options available and how they can protect their business in the case of unforeseen events.

6.10 Financial

Government’s budget allocation to emerging farmers has increased since the mid-1990s (Aliber & Hall, 2012:550). However, the use and distribution of these financial tools benefit only a few farmers, and their effect is marginal. In support, Sebola (2018:1) recognises that the South African government spends a great deal of money annually on trying to convert emerging farmers to commercial farming. However Sebola (2018:1) argues that, in addition to the government’s visible expenditure, the investment ends up being lost to failed projects. Emerging farmers who qualify for funding have little expertise and experience and are not interested in agriculture. By comparison, Ncube (2018:89) reported that, given the increased budget allocation, lack of funding is still a significant concern. Wilk et al. (2013:281) claims that, without sufficient funding, developing farmers are unable to build irrigation systems, hire labour, and buy highly expensive inputs such as drought-resistant crops, fertilisers and pesticides to generate high crop yields and quality produce.

Aliber and Hall (2012:550) suggest that a strategic decision should be made to help a large number of farmers and turn them into commercial farmers by growing their production and diversifying it. Nonetheless, Sebola (2018:1) argues that funding should be focused on farmers with capacity, experience, and interest as that is the only way that the funding of the emerging farmers would be adequate. Funding should also be expanded to both private and public workers who have expertise and an interest in farming (Sebola, 2018:1).

Given the magnitude of the role of funding in emerging farming, it is clear that innovative ways of funding are necessary. One way to assist emerging farmers with funding is by providing them with land and title deeds so that they could utilise that as collateral at the banks when applying for loans. Clarity about agriculture and land policy, along with an efficient distribution of government grants to worthy farmers would also help banks to use developing farmers’ balance sheets better. Banks also need to update their financial models with more dynamic credit structures and mixed funding to assist with market access, expertise and finance. Blended financing is another way of providing financial assistance to emerging farmers by integrating official development assistance with private or public capital, and attracting development support from other sources. Blended financing is when banks partner with coordinated industry bodies that can also provide production finance and technical support to help emerging farmers. Such forms of partnership seem to be more successful in serving a broader base of similar farmers and also provide a basis for technical support, reducing the risk of production failure.

6.11 Quality management

Many factors during and after production may affect the quality of produce. Such factors may be internal, those controlled by the farmer, or external, which cannot be controlled by the farmers. The internal factors influencing the quality of agricultural products include the preference for farming practices (Karlsson et al., 2017:53), biological composition (Degani et al., 2018:26; Mendoza et al., 2017:9), the lack of technological adaptation (Tessema et al., 2018:33) and technical incompetence (Maponya et al., 2018:421). On the contrary, external factors influencing the quality of grain include climatic and environmental conditions (Czembor et al., 2015:11; Karlsson et al., 2017:54), a lack of agricultural resources, and the unavailability of quality inputs (Sebola, 2018:2).

With produce quality known to have an impact on market access and profit margins, emerging farmers are still struggling to meet the minimum quality and quantity production requirements (Maponya et al., 2018:421). From the preceding discussion, it is clear that the quality of grain is also affected by the same factors that affect the success of emerging farmers. Thus, this necessitates the development of a sector-specific quality management framework for emerging farmers. Alongside the technological aspects of producing quality products, the framework should adopt a holistic approach that also tackles internal and external factors impacting emerging farmers as this has an indirect effect on product quality.

The quality management framework should be based on the Deming cycle. The Deming cycle, also referred to as the Plan, Do Check, and Act (PDCA), is a four-stage iterative methodology intended to develop systems, goods or facilities continually and to fix problems. It involves systematically testing possible solutions, evaluating results and implementing those that have been proven to be effective. Any emerging farmer who wishes to produce quality products to become profitable and improve the overall performance of their business, should embrace and implement this framework.

Tools Plan Do (Implementation & Operation) Check (Evaluation) Act (Review)
Legal and quality Requirements Plan how legal and quality requirements will be managed. Mapping the legal and legal requirements (registers creation). Evaluation of compliance with legal and quality requirements Management review using inputs (e.g. suggested improvement actions) from the evaluation phase. Reflect on the lessons learned.
Investigation of internal and external factors affecting farming Plan how investigations will be conducted and managed Mapping the generic processes for the investigations Evaluation of the processes and the output of the investigation
Farming Risk assessments Plan how risk assessments will be managed Map the generic risk assessments Evaluate the risk assessments
Non-conformities to the requirements Plan how non-conformities will be managed Record non-conformities Evaluate the nonconformities
Corrective & preventive actions Plan how corrective & preventive actions will be managed Record corrective & preventive actions. Evaluate the execution of corrective and preventative actions responses
Purchasing Plan how purchases of raw materials and farming inputs will be managed Implement a coding system for Purchases Evaluate the coding system for Purchases
Emergencies Plan emergency preparedness Practice emergency preparedness. Evaluate emergency preparedness
Performance management Plan how production performance indicators will be managed Implement the monitoring of the production performance Indicators Evaluate the chosen production Performance Indicators
Document Control Plan how document control will be managed Documents controlled Evaluate how document control has been managed
  Train & communicate at every stage.

Table 1: The PDCA stages for emerging farmers

7. Discussion

The study is premised on the notion that factors affecting the success of emerging grain farmers are typically studied and presented in an incoherent and fragmented manner and does not view those factors as an integrated whole. This study is, therefore grounded on the conceptual integration (blending) theory. Conceptual integrations are a set of cognitive operations in which ideas, words, and pictures are combined in a network of mental spaces to create meaning. Conceptual integration theory suggests that construction requires the selective incorporation or mixing of conceptual elements and uses the theoretical framework of networks of conceptual integration to account for this process (Delibegović Džanić, 2007:170).

In order to understand and view the factors affecting the success of emerging farmers as an integrated whole, relationships between closely related factors that affect emerging farmers were established. The closely related factors are grouped into categories, namely, internal and external factors (see figure 2). Internal factors are those that the emerging farmers have control over while external factors are those that emerging farmers do not have control over and are often provided by the government. Internal factors comprise factors such as Educational qualifications, Farming experience/interest, Technical skills and basic business management competency, Technologically orientated, and the Forming of cooperatives. On the other hand, external factors include Access to land, Infrastructure, Resources, Extension services, Financial support, and Training and development. Sebola (2018:1) contends that the only way for government support initiatives such as funding for emerging farmers to be successful, is if the criteria are based on skills, experience and interest in farming. Hence, internal factors should be used as a prerequisite for the government to provide some of the external factors to assess the levels of interest, passion and skills of emerging farmers. Moreover, emerging farmers should engage in self-development through educational training, workshops, shadowing of experienced commercial farmers, and other means available to them, to demonstrate their farming interest and skills.

Figure 2: Internal and external factors affecting emerging farmers

8. Conclusion

Researchers who have studied emerging farmers and the factors affecting their success have done so in a fragmented and incoherent manner without looking at those factors as an intelligible whole. The incoherence makes it challenging to comprehend the critical factors affecting the success of emerging farmers and for authorities to develop comprehensive policies aimed at transforming emerging farmers into commercial farmers. This paper identified 11 disjointed critical factors that affect the success of emerging farmers, namely, access to land, infrastructure resources, access to markets, government support, education and knowledge, agricultural practices, technological advancement, climate change, financial, and quality. Therefore, this paper suggests that to understand and view the factors affecting the success of emerging farmers as an integrated whole, they need to be categorised as internal and external. Moreover, internal factors should be seen as a prerequisite for the provision of some of the external factors by the government to avoid wasting government money on emerging farmers who lack an interest and passion for farming.


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A SHEQFS-integrated management system for the grain-silo industry of South Africa

First author: Thabang Ramogodi


PhD candidate, North-West University, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Potchefstroom Campus.

BSc Plant pathology (UP), BSc (Hons) Plant pathology (UP), MSc Quality Management (UK)

Co-author: Professor Anna-Marie (AMF) Pelser


Research Professor, North-West University, Faculty of Economic and Financial Sciences- Entity Director – GIFT, Mafikeng Campus.

HED (Home Economics, PU for CHE), B Com (UNISA), B Com Hons (PU for CHE), M Com (Industrial Psychology, NWU), PhD (Education Management, NWU)

Ensovoort, volume 41 (2020), number 9: 1


Rams Grain Storage Business (RGSB) is one of the main agribusinesses in South Africa’s grain silo industry. The research problem involves RGSB’s use of numerous management systems for health & safety, environment, quality and food safety in a silo mind-set, which has adverse effects on resource management and overall company efficiency. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to explore the potential for developing an integrated ISO-based management system. This case study analysis used a single method of research, which was primarily a single quantitative method of study, for the research methodology. Data collection was done through a single technique for collecting data, namely, a questionnaire. Data were analysed using tables and graphs corresponding to them. A response rate of 66 per cent was achieved to the questionnaire. The findings indicated substantial similarities and relationships among all management systems of interest for this study. Finally, the study provided a comprehensive guide for the successful application of IMS.   

Keywords: GSI, IMS, ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 22001, ISO 45000, Management Systems,


The South African grain industry includes grain (maize, wheat, sorghum, barley, and oats) as well as oilseed (soybeans, canola, soybeans, and groundnuts). The industry includes several key stakeholders who supply the grain processors with agricultural inputs. Other industry stakeholders include farmers, owners of siloes, research organisations, bakers, and financiers, among others. The silo-owning organisations operate in a sub-industry called the grain silo industry (GSI) and are critical for this study. Approximately 85% of GSI is owned by 15-grain handling companies distributed across the country. They are mostly concentrated in the Free State, North West, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo. In South Africa, the industry holds about 17 million tons of bulk storage capacity (Agbiz, 2017).

Most industries use various management systems for health, safety, environment, quality, and food safety and have a silo mentality. According to Rebelo, Santos, and Silva (2016), such a mentality results in different people managing the different systems and, consequently, higher costs. According to Ahsen (2014) and de Oliveira (2013), employees also then have to learn and know many different systems rather than just one. Multiple software and IT infrastructures also results in a substantial financial burden. The high costs are perpetuated by running the processes separately and in some instances in duplicate. The use of management systems in a silo mentality results in increased margins of errors and risks. The disparate systems may also hamper the achievement of long-term quality, health, safety, and food safety objectives (Bernardo et al. 2012, Siva et al. 2016). One management system for quality management, environmental management, health & safety, and food safety is warranted.

Integrated Management Systems (IMS) is no new phenomenon in literature. The related debate, however, should be about the strategies and procedures used to incorporate the different management systems. Various methods can be followed when designing an IMS, according to Jørgensen, Remmen, and Mellado (2006) and Dahlin and Isaksson (2017). Recent developments about increased compatibility between the different ISO standards have paved the way for IMS discussions and ways in which to consider the various aspects of integration.


This paper aims to investigate the potential for the development of an integrated ISO-based management system for the South African grain silos industry. Following the broad aim, the paper focuses on the following objectives:

  •     Investigate the relationship between different management systems
  •     Develop guidelines for the implementation of an IMS


In this study, the dependent variable is IMS, while the independent variables are the different management systems, namely ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and ISO 22001. Figure 3 below shows the different variables and how they are connected:


Figure 3: Conceptual framework (Ramogodi 2018)


How a research study is performed is primarily based on the accepted research methodology, the research approach, and the research methods used to achieve the study’s aim and objectives. This section of the paper addresses and elaborates comprehensively on the research model and the methods used for this report, including the research process, research strategy, sampling technique, and data collection and analysis.

Positivism Paradigm    

Positivist researchers are also referred to as resource researchers, according to Bahari (2010), because they try to understand and predict what is happening to the social world by finding regularities and causal interactions between its constituent elements (Bahari, 2010). Positivist researchers use the philosophical point of view to create an understanding of the presence of reality in the real world. Researchers take the view that the researcher is independent of the subject under review and thus perform studies using quantitative methods through experiments, simulations, and statistically repeatable surveys. In positivist research, it is essential to formulate a hypothesis for knowledge testing (Ade Bilau et al., 2018).

This research adopted the positivism paradigm to explore the potential for the implementation of an integrated ISO-based management system in South Africa’s grain silos industry. The reason for adopting the positivism paradigm was that this study wanted to create relationships for building an integrated management system between four different ISO management standards. This paradigm also permitted the use of a questionnaire, which enabled the researcher to collect data independently without being part of the investigation.

Research Method

Quantitative analysis is a research approach that uses organised questionnaires or experiments to collect quantitative data (Rutberg & Bouikidis, 2018). Quantitative research focuses on objectivity and is particularly essential when there is a possibility of collecting quantifiable measurements of variables and inferences from population samples (Queirós et al., 2017). Quantitative research is carried out in a more organised environment, which also enables researchers to control the variables of analysis, environment, and research questions. Quantitative analysis can help explain the relationship between variables and results. Quantitative research includes developing a hypothesis that describes the expected outcome, relationship, or expected outcome of the problem being investigated (Rutberg & Bouikidis, 2018).

Quantitative analysis research was used for this research. The method used a common technique of data collecting (questionnaire) and a corresponding analytical procedure (graphs). The explanation for this selection was based on the target audience’s specific characteristics, as this research study mainly targeted silo managers who are not highly educated and mostly elderly. Therefore, a technique had to be chosen which would be easy to use and that also promoted positivism.

Research Strategy

A case study is a research strategy aimed at explaining the dynamics of specific environments. A case study research method is an empirical investigation that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within the context of real-life, and mainly when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not evident (Ade Bilau et al., 2018). According to Yin (1981) there are two types of case study designs, namely single-case designs used to test a theory, especially in a disconfirming context, and multiple-case, which would involve a collection of cases. This study applied a single case study, which was a grain storage company with 68 units.

For anonymity reasons, Rams Grain Storage Business (RGSB) is a pseudonym for the grain storage business studied. RGSB specialises in the storage and handling of grain and oilseeds and services the needs of farmers in the provinces of the Free State, North West, Northern Cape, and Gauteng. It is situated between the primary producer and processor of grain. It has 68-grain silos with a storage capacity of 4.8 million tons. It handles approximately 25% of the country’s harvest of summer and winter grain, as well as oilseeds in an average production year. RGS has 2 223 silo bins, where grain and oilseeds are taken in, dried, cleaned, and stored.

Sampling Strategy

Data collection was essential to achieving the research goals. Nevertheless, according to Sounders et al., (2016), monetary, time, and access constraints make it impossible to obtain all available data. A sampling technique was then applied to minimise data volume by considering data from a subgroup rather than all potential cases and elements (Sounders et al., 2016). Probability sampling is a sampling technique that provides for equal probability for each person. Analyses carried out with the same sample typically produce results that are generalisable to the entire population of the study. Therefore, if those findings are well used, reliable results can be provided by that particular type of sampling. In particular, cluster probability sampling is used when the research population can be divided into discrete groups based on a common characteristic (Schreuder et al., 2001).

Cluster probability sampling was used for this study, where the study population can be divided into discrete groups based on a common characteristic. An effort was made to distribute the questionnaire to all management and support function workers with access to the organisational email. The email medium was chosen because it provided a confidentiality mechanism. The use of email made the questionnaire available to workers and it was less tedious. Only one delivery method was used to ensure that there was no duplication, as only one questionnaire can be performed per computer. The population was made up of 74 people, including executive management, senior management, silo management, and support function staff. The entire population was sampled.

Data Collection

Sounders et al., (2016) report that questionnaires are used widely in both business and management research. Respondents complete self-completed questionnaires via a channel such as an email, web, postal or mail or hand-delivered (Sounders et al., 2016). A structured questionnaire was used to collect data for this study. It is imperative to mention that only close-ended questions were used in the questionnaire for this study. Open-ended questions were purposely excluded because of the type of audience that this study targeted. The research targeted mostly silo managers. The questionnaire therefore had to be clear and straightforward to facilitate participation. This questionnaire was circulated by email to a representative group of RGSB workers made up of silo managers and personnel in support functions.

All selected staff members were given a single questionnaire. The questionnaire’s individual questions were derived from the literature review. In designing these questions, due consideration was given to the aims and ultimate goal, the form and length of questions, target participants, and the protection of participants’ privacy. The questionnaire was composed of two sections. Part 1 asks questions about the demographics, emphasising the respondent’s position, location, and experience. Part 2 was meant to gauge the Integrated Management System’s independent variables. The variables were measured on a five-point Likert-type scale.

Rensis Likert first developed a scale of the Likert type in 1931 (Croasmun & Ostrom, 2011). This technique was initially described and developed for assessing attitude. This measuring scale can also be used as a reliable method for self-efficacy measurements. The scale includes an individual’s answer to a sequence of statements with the ultimate goal of selecting from five choices that range from strongly disagreeing to strongly agreeing. Since each answer is assigned a point value – Table 1 (Croasmun & Ostrom, 2011) – an individual’s score is then calculated by adding the point values of all the statements.

Table 1: Five-point Likert-type scale (Croasmun & Ostrom, 2011)

Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly  Agree
1 2 3 4 5

Data Analysis

Quantitative data, especially in its raw form, offers little in the way of being able to make sense of the data. The data must be interpreted and analysed to make it more user-friendly and useful. Furthermore, data would need to be analysed to turn it into useful information. Quantitative data analysis techniques such as graphs, charts, and statistics help us process and interpret data. They ultimately allow us to track patterns and data relationships, and support us in practically investigating, processing, and delivering the data (Sounders et al., 2016).

The primary data obtained through the questionnaire were evaluated using Microsoft Excel’s simple statistical tools to determine whether the questionnaires were completed correctly and whether the responses were appropriate. The information was presented using tables and graphs. No matter how careful and alert one is during data entry and analysis, one is bound to make errors and mistakes. Therefore, as suggested by Saunders et al., (2016), the researcher used many methods to test data for errors so that they could be mitigated in terms of their effect on this analysis. Such guidelines often require the review of illegitimate codes and illogical relationships, for example.


This research segment discusses the questionnaire results in the form of tables and bar graphs. The analysis will briefly link the questionnaire’s results to the available literature.

Survey results: Biographical information

This section was essential for understanding the calibre of the respondents. This research used cluster sampling and divided the sample into executive management, senior management, silo management, and support function. The results (Table 2) showed responses of 50% by executive management, 100% by senior management, 100% by support functions, and 59% by silo management. The average response rate for the study was 66%.

Table 2: Survey response rate by designation

Population group Population Sample Response Rate%
Executive management 2 2 1 50%
Senior management 6 6 6 100%
Silo management 58 58 34 59%
Support function 8 8 8 100%
TOTAL 74 74 49 66%

The findings (Table 3) further show that more than 70% of respondents have more than five years of service at RGSB. The results of this study are thus accurate and credible. The respondents know and understand the organisation well.

Table 3: Survey response rate by experience

Population group Response % Response count
1 to 5 years 24 12
6 to 10 years 27 13
11 to 20 years 18 9
21 to 20 years 31 15
Total response count 49
Answered questions 22
Values %- Peak values in Bold

 Survey results: The relationship between different management systems

The next six sets of question statements were structured to analyse the relevance of this study in terms of relationships between the various management systems: Food Safety Management System, Environmental Management System, Quality Management System, and Health & Safety Management System. Such relationships were necessary to ensure that all these systems could be incorporated into a single management system, which would also be an integrated management system.

S/Q1 – RGSB has an effective quality management system

The question statement has been designed to assess the respondents’ views on the efficiency of the quality management system of RGSB. The results (Figure 1) showed that the majority (53%) agreed that their quality management system is effective. Besides, 29% strongly supported the statement, and 10% disagreed with the statement, while just 4% of the respondents were undecided. The survey response contradicts the quality management implementation status, since RGSB has had neither ISO 9001 nor Six Sigma nor Lean or similar in place. However, RGSB participates in quality-orientated practices which suggest a certain degree of quality management commitment. The inconsistency may be attributed to the respondents’ lack of knowledge and comprehension of quality management systems. They may think that RGSB has a formal quality management system in place, which is not the case.

Figure 1: Response to S/Q1

S/Q2 – RGSB has an effective Environmental Management System

This question statement aimed to assess the respondents’ perception of the effectiveness of the environmental management systems of their organisation. The results (Figure 2) suggested that the respondents strongly believed that their environmental management system was effective –  53% agree with the statement and 20% agree strongly with the statement. Just 10% disagreed with the statement, and 4% disagreed strongly. The findings, however, contradict the company’s existing stance in terms of implementing an environmental management system. The study and examination of the financial reports of the RGSB, sustainability reports, the website of the organisation, and other relevant information showed that the organisation had not implemented any formal or informal environmental management systems. Nevertheless, specific pro-environment initiatives demonstrated a commitment to improving the environment at their place of operation. This inconsistency may be due to lack of knowledge and comprehension of the environmental management system.

Figure 2: Response to S/Q2

S/Q3 – RGSB has an effective Health and Safety Management System

This question statement was intended to determine the respondent’s perception of the efficacy of the health and safety management system of their business. Results (Figure 3) showed that most respondents (53%) agreed and 35% strongly agreed with the statement. Very few respondents (4%) disagreed with the statement, and about 4% were undecided as to whether or not the system was effective. The findings are in line with the analysis of the health & safety management system of the organisation, which indicated that RGSB has a structured system and is sufficient to a certain extent. The questionnaire did not, however, allow the respondents to explain why they think the system was effective. The questionnaire was merely based on the respondent’s viewpoint regarding the system. According to Mohammadfam et al., (2016), the efficacy or performance of the health & safety management system can be assessed using various conventional metrics. Those metrics include the number of sick leave days due to injury, injury severity rate (ISR), number of Lost Time Injuries (LTI) and injury frequency rate (IFR). This research did not go as far as examining and meeting specific criteria for assessing the efficacy of health & safety management performance systems.

Figure 3: Response to S/Q3

 S/Q4 – RGSB has an effective Food Safety Management System

This question statement intended to determine the respondent’s perception of the efficacy of the food safety management system of RGSB. Results (Figure 4) showed that 51% of the respondents agreed that RGSB had an effective food safety management system, and 3%  agreed strongly with this notion. On the other hand, only 4% of respondents disagreed with the notion, and 2% disagreed strongly. The remaining 12% of the respondents were undecided. Although RGSB has not yet adopted a formal food safety management system such as ISO 22000 or FSSC 22000, the company has established food safety management systems that comply with South Africa’s regulatory and statutory laws. The establishment of the system is evident from RGSB’s review on the status of food safety management through the financial reports of the RGSB, sustainability reports, the website of the organisation, and other relevant information that resonate with the questionnaire responses . The questionnaire did not allow the respondents to make a distinction between formal and informal management of food safety systems. The study only allowed respondents to provide their perspective on the system.

Figure 4: Response to S/Q4

S/Q5 – There are similarities between all or some of the systems

This question-statement intended to determine whether the respondents believed there were parallels between four of the management systems of interest to this study. The majority of respondents (69%) agreed with the notion that there are similarities in all or some of the systems (Figure 5). Also, 20% of the respondents strongly agreed with the statement. On the other hand, only 4% disagreed while 6% were undecided. The vast majority of respondents (6) believe there are parallels of interest between all management systems in this study. This notion resonates well with literature as confirmed by the study conducted by Dahlin and Isaksson (2017), which showed that organisations had made several attempts to explore the similarities in these systems by combining them into one system. It is reinforced by Simon et al., (2012a) who noted the challenges of incorporating these systems, even though similarities exist.

Figure 5: Response to S/Q5

S/Q6 – The four systems mentioned above can be combined into one system

This question statement was very significant in this study since it would gauge the respondents’ perception of the potential integration of the four management systems. The results (Figure 6) showed that the majority of respondents (55%) agreed with the concept that the four separate quality, environment, health & safety and food safety management systems could be combined into one. The concept was also strongly agreed to by 20% more respondents. Only 10% of the respondents disagreed with the notion while 14% remained undecided. These findings were well associated with the previous question statement (S / Q5) on the similarities between the different systems. In both question statements, the majority of respondents believe that there are correlations between these systems and they can be merged into one system. The integration of these systems is backed by the likes of Ribeiro et al., (2017) and Tepaskoualos and Chountalas (2017) who in their respective studies revealed that the future of IMS requires complete management systems integration.

Figure 6: Response to S/Q6


The first objective was to examine the relationship between various systems of management. The aim was to determine whether the respondents believed that there were any correlations between the different quality, environment, health and safety, and food safety management systems. A set of 6 question-statements was used to satisfy this objective. Such relationships or similarities were significant for possible management system integration. The conclusion from this section of the study was that the four management systems in question had similarities. Nevertheless, this part of the analysis also revealed a lack of knowledge and understanding of different management systems, which would suggest a need for training and is addressed in depth in the study’s recommendations.

The findings agreed with studies by Siva et al., (2016), Ahsen (2014) and Bernardo et al., (2009) who elaborated that there are relationships between some of the management systems that are important to this research, namely quality, environment, and health & safety. Question statements S/Q1 to S/Q6 of this study were aimed at determining whether the respondents believed that there were correlations between the management systems of interest for this study and if the findings correlated with studies conducted by Dahlin and Isaksson (2017) and Simon et al., (2012a). The notion of integration was further endorsed by De Oliveira (2013) and Fonseca (2015). Moreover, ISO’s introduction of the high-level structure, confirms that Annex also strengthened the idea that the various systems have similarities. The integration of the various management systems based on ISO would therefore be more straightforward now than ever before.

Previous studies have shown that various management systems can be combined into a single system. However, the pertinent question here would be, What degree of integration is feasible? Simon et al., (2012a) answer that question by suggesting that integration should be separated into categories. Commonly, attempts to integrate management systems have been made mostly on the level of quality, environmental, and health & safety to the exclusion of Food Safety (Ahsen, 2014; Bernardo et al., 2009; Dahlin & Isaksson, 2017). This exclusion of food safety can be attributed to the uncertainty associated with integrating  multiple management systems (Simon et al., 2012a). Besides, the literature on integrating the food safety management system with the three above mentioned clusters is minimal. Most previous studies failed to outline the frameworks and techniques to be employed when various management systems are integrated. Consequently, the importance of this study is justified by the attempt to combine food safety with quality, environment, and health & safety.


Following a careful review of the results of the questionnaire, the researcher has formulated guidelines that will bring improvements to the organisation in terms of quality, environment, health & safety, and food safety management. Moreover, the researcher strongly believed that such improvements would lead to an overall increase in organisational efficiency. This study suggests introducing IMS in the grain silo industry at RGSB as well as other related organisations. Before implementation, however, many prerequisite issues such as leadership commitment, culture, education and training, and performance and reward must be addressed for the implementation of IMS to be a success. Those prerequisite issues are discussed below.

Commitment and Leadership

IMS’s success is highly dependent on top management commitment. Leadership engagement, management involvement, and participation are vital to the creation and maintenance of a good IMS that will bring benefits to all stakeholders. Instituting, maintaining, and scaling up stakeholder satisfaction is essential for realising these benefits. Top management should recognise activities such as (1) creating a vision, SMART goals and policies that are in line with organisational purposes; (2) cultivating people’s trust by leading by example; (3) communicating corporate principles and providing clear guidance concerning IMS; (4) researching and designing new ways of doing things going forward. Top management must also participate in continuous improvement projects; (5) knowing whether the IMS achieves its goals by receiving direct input from employees; (6) recognising both core and supporting processes that add value to the company; (7) empowerment and growth of employees; (8) creating a favourable atmosphere for employee participation; (9) making available resources and systems to support organisational strategic plans.

Training and education

Top management and all unit managers should be educated in understanding and applying all of the relevant ISO management systems and IMS. All other staff should undergo both ISO and IMS knowledge training. If done correctly, education and training have the potential to improve the organisational performance and productivity significantly through employee engagement, encouragement and support. Employee participation is crucial for the proper implementation of IMS. All employees should be encouraged to participate.


It is vital to change the organisational culture into one that embraces change and the integration of management systems. Organisational culture essentially defines how an organisation’s business is conducted. The appropriate organisational culture is thus essential for the company to succeed in implementing IMS, as it will create a strong foundation for IMS. A culture of learning is crucial for IMS’ success. It helps the company learn from past experiences and foster professional growth and training.

Performance and Reward

IMS requires performance metrics not only to provide an indicator of the success of the company in achieving its goals but also to act as a motivation for employees to achieve excellence. Employees need to feel that they are respected and valued for their work on behalf of the organisation. The best way to do so is to reward the kinds of actions and attitudes that the company wishes to encourage. The performance assessment method should involve the development of practical Key Performance Indicator (KPIs) and goals, as well as process management that involves aspects such as tracking, evaluating, and analysis. The method must also be able to provide feedback and performance intervention in the form of good performance rewards and bad performance penalisation. In the short term, the costs related to the initial investment could outweigh the financial benefits. Also, costs can increase in the short to medium term as the company invests in the initial IMS analysis, preparation, and IMS implementation. However, the investment will yield substantial results in the long term when it comes to operational efficiency and financial returns.

The Implementation of IMS

Often referred to as parallel structures, IMS can be defined as developing an amalgamated management framework using the similarities of various management standards. However, even though they are kept in the same manual, the description of each procedure needs to be preserved. The duplication and complexity of jobs, which usually arises with the introduction of various management principles, is thus significantly reduced (Raišiene, 2011).

The goal of the IMS is to show how the various quality, health & safety, environment, and food safety management systems complement and impact each other by providing a consistent and uniform representation of the different systems. Moreover, it aims to clarify how these partnerships will help with risk control and overall business performance (Pardy & Andrews, 2009). The IMS exists to promote the organisations’ priorities and overall business progress through the handling of interrelated and interconnected organisational processes. It can never be overemphasised how important it is to appoint the right people with the requisite authority and expertise to all the critical tasks that need to be completed. The same is true for performance assessment because all this is a waste of time without a performance review. The performance review should be done against the goals of the systems and not the goals of the functions (Hoyle, 2009).

Researchers and theorists have put forward various approaches to the advancement of IMS. The implementation of a new approach depends, however, on whether a company has one or more management systems in place, as well as the number of systems it plans to implement. Our case study organisation does not have any structured ISO-based management system in place. Consequently, an entirely new IMS should be built and the focus should be on the systems and processes that involve management. The most significant benefit this strategy will have is that it will achieve uniformity and coherence at all levels of the organisation (Dalling & Holt, 2012).

To ensure that the IMS is accurate, reliable and capable of achieving its expected results, theorists caution against trying to implement many different management standards. Instead, it is recommended that companies seek to only incorporate management systems that the organisation requires and that can add value in terms of contributing to the overall improvement of the business. Also, it is imperative that the workers who are doing the actual work be inspired and involved. The company should avoid attempting to incorporate IMS from functional leaders’ position as doing so often causes confusion and concern among employees. A process approach should be followed, paying attention to essential processes to ensure that the IMS is successful and achieves its goals (Raišiene, 2011).

A 100% amalgamation of ISO 9001:2015 for quality management, ISO 14001:2015 for environmental management, ISO 45001:2018 for health & safety management, and ISO 22001:2018 for food safety management should be assumed. The primary aim of this amalgamation is to achieve the corporate goals and promote stakeholders’ satisfaction. The total management of the organisational processes through an integrated management system should achieve that. As far as the policy is concerned, there should be one policy that incorporates a set of common goals – namely all the goals and objectives of the different systems (Whitelaw, 2004).

When applying IMS, the top-down approach should be adopted. The starting point for this to be useful is recognising the needs of the organisation. The system must be incorporated into the strategic planning and business strategy. Risk management also needs to form a critical part of the corporate plan. The focus must also be on the need to manage the process as a project by following the key steps (Figure 7) identified by Dalling and Holt (2012).

Figure 7: IMS Implementation Steps (Dalling & Holt, 2012)

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA), as suggested by ISO, should be used as a basis for providing a roadmap for the effective implementation of IMS. The plan will require more stages that go further than certification. It should explain how the IMS can be easily sustained and should include the difficult task of developing observable performance metrics in each of the four areas of concern, namely quality, environment, health & safety, and food safety (McCourt, 2009).

Figure 8: The PDCA cycle (Gonzalez, 2020)

In its implementation, the IMS should also follow the structure of Annex SL. This approach will make implementation simple. The Annex SL structure (figure 9) has been adopted by all four standards of interest, which means that the set of requirements, terminology and format is standardised. Annex SL prescribes the high-level structure, common meanings and words, and the same core text of the standards (CQI and IRICA, 2015).

Figure 9: Annex SL High-Level Structure (Cooper, 2015).


This study showed that there were relationships and similarities between the four standards that were of interest to this study, namely ISO 9001:2015 for quality management, ISO 14001:2015 for environmental management, ISO 45001:2018 for health and safety management, and ISO 22001:2018 for food safety management. The study also suggested that the adoption and implementation of an integrated management system can be of great benefit to companies in the grain silo industry. However, there are prerequisite issues such as leadership commitment, culture, education and training, and performance and reward, which need to be addressed before implementing an IMS Implementation and a top-down approach must be followed. The organisations must integrate only those systems that add value to organisational performance. Finally, the system must be based on the PDCA cycle and adopt the high-level structure of Annex SL.


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