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Peer-Review Record

Determinants of Smallholder Livestock Farmers’ Household Resilience to Food Insecurity in South Africa

Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Received: 12 April 2021 / Revised: 25 June 2021 / Accepted: 2 July 2021 / Published: 13 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Food Insecurity)

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

Determinants of smallholder livestock farmers’ household resilience to food insecurity in South Africa


This study uses Cochran’s sample size original and corrected formulae and estimates 217 sample size to identify factors affecting livestock farmers' agricultural drought resilience to food insecurity behaviors in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. To void multicollinearity, it uses a principal component analysis to estimate the agricultural drought resilience index. Using structural equation approach, it assesses smallholder livestock farmers' resilience to food insecurity. The study found that 81% smallholder livestock farmers not being resilient to agricultural drought. The study uses social safety nets, and adaptive capacity indicators to assess food insecurity. Since climate change indicators negatively and significantly impacted households' resilience to food insecurity, this study suggested that smallholder livestock farmers need assistance from government and various stakeholders to minimize vulnerability and boost their resilience to food insecurity.

This study also makes general remarks such as:

  • One-third of the young people show a positive attitude towards farming and choosing agriculture as a career.
  • The male household heads were found to have spent more years in school than their female counterparts.
  • The more educated and higher skilled individuals of a household are likely to be the least vulnerable to climate shocks such as agricultural drought and with more adaptive capacity than less educated farmers, because they could get information about climate change to assess their situation.
  • Diversification of income helps to enhance the resilience of smallholder farmers when agricultural drought occurs.
  • The minority of farmers own additional property, and most smallholder farmers are not resilience to shock such as agricultural drought.


The paper has some merits and deserves publications in MDPI’s climate journal; however, the present form has the following problems:

  1. The abstract needs significant/insignificant results included.
  2. Page 1, lines 26-28, include statistical results in the parenthesis for different factors so that the readers will get further information from the introduction itself.
  3. Page 2, lines 30-33, what makes small holders, specify.
  4. Page 2, lines 43-46, what is a satisfactory output?
  5. Page 2, lines 52-53: how does it fill the gap in literature?
  6. Page 2, line 57—how does it boost small farmers or do the author means it help the government to develop a policy instrument to assist small farmers with incentives….
  7. Page 3, lines 71-73: what is a certain level of well-being?
  8. Page 3, lines 82-83: how do farmer developed transformative capacity?
  9. Page 3, lines 95-96: What is Alinovi et al.’s framework?
  10. Page 5, Fig. 2, provide latitudes and longitude on the map and also the map scale in each inset and main map.
  11. Page 12, lines 310-316: It is confusing whether the authors are discussing their work or the work by Meterlerkamp et al and Brenda’s work. If the authors want to present an analogy from their referees works, they should provide under what circumstances the references literatures were concluded and how their works are comparable to the authors’ present work.
  12. As mentioned above on the general comments, sweeping remarks based on other works will be less valuable than if the authors provide a background under what circumstances other authors did the work and how authors’ work is comparable to the references. With that explanation, it makes sense to derive conclusion with analogies from others’ research.


If the authors address the above issues, the paper is worth publishing.


Comments for author File: Comments.docx

Author Response

Please find attached the response to reviewer 1 comments. 

Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Reviewer 2 Report

The manuscript entitled "Determinants of smallholder livestock farmers’ household resilience to food insecurity in South Africa" presents interesting ideas on the need for practical government involvement in what the study's data analysis shows as climate change impacts reducing livestock farmers' agricultural drought resilience to food insecurity in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. I think this is an important contribution to the field; however...  So often, quantitative-only studies attempt to tell the story of resilience, but I have found that mixing in personal/qualitative perspectives from the farmers aids the reader in better understanding the complexities of the issue being studied. 

The authors presented nice graphics, but I also want to see the survey instrument used (which questions were asked). I recommend the authors take the following suggestions in sequence:

  1. Suggest a brief introduction and rename section 2 as "background" or "Literature review and conceptual framework"? Consider adding background material on assets, adaptive capacity, and social safety net so the reader has more of an idea how you're defining and framing these terms.
  2. Figure 1 needs a bit of work (not cutting off words; also, bounce back is not a factor but a behavior within the flow aspect. This needs more explanation why a flow diagram was used (i.e., the importance of multiple factors and why the flow is important). Also, on line 97, you refer to this as an "analytical" framework vs. conceptual.
  3. Figure 2 arrows are not accurate for progression of location - from first to second frames. 
  4. Line 168: Need more on government registration/roster. What level of government, what assistance/criteria? Who can be on this list?  **Where is Table 1?
  5. Section 3.3/Line 181 - Can you add an Appendix so we can see the questions asked? Or include examples of questions asked.
  6. Table 3. Perhaps more explanation/development on the "assets" part of this - to help explain this aspect later in the paper as being an indicator for resilience.
  7. Tables 4-7 is where you will start to lose the government audience (where you'd like to have this research applied and used) UNLESS you explain what those results mean up front in the Discussion. There needs to be a wrap up paragraph of the results and more organization of the aspects you're highlighting in that section because this informs your conclusion and recommendation.
  8. In the Discussion section (BTW each of these short paragraphs can be it's own research paper), explain why you focused/wanted to discuss these 7 categories (i.e., gender, diversity of income) - why were these the main factors to highlight? 
  9. The first paragraph says there is real concern about the older age of farmers, but then the last sentence in the paragraph negates that a bit.  BUT this IS a global phenomenon that agriculture is primarily an older demographic - which is and should be a big concern regarding future food security. 
  10. Line 333 is missing the word "is/are".
  11. Line 334: Out of all the stats worthy of discussion here, why hone in on needing government help for your recommendation? For example, why not focus on youth or gender development. (My point being: The government assistance aspect needs more development/explanation to end up being the main/only recommendation for this study. This gap or need has not been concretely established.)
  12. Lines 336-346 Need more development/explanation. **Really hone and develop this to inform the applied recommendation section.  
  13. In the Conclusion section, your readers will want to know more about this: "The study also showed that asset, social safety net, and adaptive capacity indicators positively and significantly impacted households' resilience to food insecurity."  What are these, why are they not getting these, how would the government be able to help, etc.?
  14. Their should be a MUCH more developed recommendations section.  You simply say: "The study recommends that that smallholder livestock farmers need assistance from the government and various stakeholders in the industry to minimize vulnerability and boost their resilience to food insecurity." That's IT?  What are the specific recommendations and to whom? and How? What level of government? THIS section needs much more contribution because THIS is the practical use and application for the knowledge you've built with the study. Why just end the article on that sentence when you can suggest some real and applied solutions? 
  15. Some format inconsistencies in the References section. Suggest revisions to References #35 (avoid Wikipedia) and #26 (United Nations FAO, if no author?).

Author Response

Please find attached the response for reviewer 2 comments. 

Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Round 2

Reviewer 1 Report

This paper is submitted in hurry without proofreading by the authors themselves.  I re-read the entire text; it must be reviewed by the authors very carefully and rephrase many of the sentences. There are many run-on sentences, typos, incomplete sentences, some sentences are not even making complete sense. If edited thoroughly and shorten to some extent, all the claims are supported with reliable references this paper has some merits and deserves publication. 

Author Response

Please find attached reviewer 1 comments with a response. 

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