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‘Ignored smallholder farmers account for 80% of Africa’s agric production’

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PHOTO: worldagroforestry.org

PHOTO: worldagroforestry.org

Worried by the inconsistency in the continent’s agricultural practice, especially in relation to investment in large-scale commercial farms, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Anan and other stakeholders have decried neglect of smallholder farmers, stating that more than 80 per cent of African agricultural production come from them.

According to the stakeholders, Africa’s smallholders are more than capable of feeding the continent—so long as they boost their yields by using the latest agronomic practices in combination with appropriately adapted seeds and fertilizer.

Although investors in Nigeria’s agricultural value-chain may have found appeal in out-grower schemes, the stakeholders noted that allocating large blocks of land to foreign investors, reserving water for industrial-sized operations, and concentrating research and development on a few cash crops doesn’t help most farmers.

Similarly, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has identified the role of smallholder farmers in making meaningful contributions to sustainable economic development if stimulated with the right policies.

According to UNCTAD Commodities and Development Report 2015, smallholder farmers manage just 12 per cent of all agricultural land, yet they produce more than 80 per cent of the world’s food in value terms and thus, deserve more attention therefore from policymakers to unleash their full business potential.

Indeed, the report showcased a number of instances where factors, such as innovative financing mechanisms, access to contract farming, better and increased training, knowhow and motivation services, and agricultural and financial services using information and communications technology, have gradually increased smallholders’ productivity and integration into markets.

In another report titled “Food and the Transformation of Africa”, by Kofi Anan and Sam Dryden, the stakeholders noted that African agricultural policies have been haphazard and inconsistent, with some countries neglecting smallholders in favor of commercial farmers, while others have given them attention but focused narrowly on increasing their productivity.


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