Socio-economic factors affecting smallholder farmers’ willingness to adopt biodigester technology in South Africa


  • L.P. Bonokwane Centre for Environmental Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • Shola Centre for Environmental Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, South Africa



Being energy-autonomous has been suggested as a means of having sustainable energy in South Africa, where about 98% of electricity is derived from coal. Research has shown that biogas produced from animal wastes using a biodigester can be used as a source of renewable energy with the added benefits of a by-product called digestate, which can replace inorganic fertiliser. This study analyses the factors that influence smallholder farmers’ willingness to adopt a biodigester technology. It uses a structured questionnaire to acquire data from 80 respondents in Ngaka Modiri Molema District in North West Province, South Africa. The respondents were 30 livestock farmers and 29 farmers practising mixed farming. Five extension officers were also interviewed to establish their level of knowledge about the technology. Descriptive statistics and Fisher’s exact test were used to analyse the data. Factors such as gender, years of experience and family size were significant to willingness to adopt a biodigester. Farmers who were male and those with more years of experience were open to the idea, while those with larger families were less open to it, due to financial constraint. Overall, respondents practising mixed farming were more willing to adopt a biodigester than livestock farmers.


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Author Biographies

L.P. Bonokwane, Centre for Environmental Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, South Africa

Postgraduate research student

Shola, Centre for Environmental Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, South Africa

Senior Lecturer

Centre for Environmental Management


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How to Cite

Bonokwane, L., & Ololade, O. (2022). Socio-economic factors affecting smallholder farmers’ willingness to adopt biodigester technology in South Africa. Journal of Energy in Southern Africa, 33(1), 10–20.