Attributes of small-scale sugarcane contractors that influence their service quality in KwaZulu-Natal
The productivity of small-scale sugarcane contractors affects not only their own profitability and sustainability, but that of other stakeholders as well, such as the small-scale sugarcane farmers they contract to and the sugar mills they supply with sugarcane. This study examines the attributes of small-scale sugarcane contractors that affect their quality of service as perceived by small-scale sugarcane growers (SSGs). Information was obtained through interviews conducted with 114 contractors sampled in ten mill group areas in KwaZulu-Natal between September 2002 and July 2003. Further interviews were conducted in the same time period with SSGs for information on contractor service quality (transport and general service timeliness, meeting of daily rateable delivery requirements, low downtimes, good staff management, and minimal disagreements on service terms). Results show that factors affecting a contractor's perceived service quality include gender, training, the quality of information used (industry focused information sources such as the South African Sugar Association Experiment Station (SASEX) and the Ingede magazine, or general sources such as the radio), and sugarcane tonnage transported (size of business). Being a male contractor and having a larger business positively influence service rating as perceived by SSGs. The importance of the quality of information used and increased training levels highlights the need for the continual provision of relevant information and training for sugarcane contractors by extension services (government, SASEX and milling companies).
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