AGRF2016: The role of smallholder farmers in sustaining the progress of agricultural transformation in Africa
For the first time in Africa, policy makers and governments have committed themselves to ensuring that national resources are committed to promoting the growth of agriculture across the continent. But in order for agriculture to promote long-term economic growth in Africa, it needs to become profitable. This simply means more smallholder farmers need to lift themselves out of poverty by embracing farming as a business and also become a part of the decision-making to advance the right policies and secure investments that will ensure a better life for millions of Africa’s farmers and families.
In recent times, stakeholders in Africa’s agricultural sector have laid the foundations for a renaissance in agriculture across the continent; one powered by the enormous progress increasingly evident in farmers who are gaining more options in the seeds they plant, in the fertilisers they use, and in the markets available to purchase their produce. Farmers also have better access to markets, farming has also fast become more commercialised and productive.
“Different innovative financial packages are being developed. Crop varieties are coming up. AGRA has trained more than 300 seed breeders, we have also released almost about 500 varieties of improved crops that farmers can adopt,” said David Ameyaw, the Head of Monitoring and Evaluation for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Although this may only be a glimpse of success, it offers an inspiring new vision of a future Africa growing ever stronger through farming as a business.
A decade of intense domestic attention to farmers and food production has generated “the most successful development effort” in African history, with countries that made the biggest investments rewarded with sizable jumps in both farm productivity and overall economic performance, according to a new report released today by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The report released at the ongoing 2016 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Nairobi, has shown that ten years on, African countries that embraced agriculture saw food production, Gross Domestic product(GDP) and Nutrition all improve.
Following the release of this report, Ousmane Badiane, Africa Director for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) stressed the role of farmers in sustaining and tracking the growth of agriculture in Africa “Farmers need to engage more with the government and make sure that the sector is not corrupted but instead improves over time because the initial impact we’ve seen can trace that countries which have embraced agriculture grew twice the rate of others in terms of agriculture,” he said. Badiane also added that when Agriculture grows, it grows for the smallholders and therefore they have a stake in making sure that their governors, the private sector and other stakeholders take CAADP seriously and continue improving.
Farmers need to have a voice in policy planning, designs and executions in order to not only keep track of what’s happening but also pressure the government to invest more and also efficiently. “They have to make sure that programs meet their needs also have to build their own capacity to be part of the dialogue and the policy making process and then ask for the things they want the government to be spending money on,” Badiane explained.
The rich harvest
Africa Agriculture Status Report 2016 finds that “after decades of stagnation, much of Africa has enjoyed sustained agriculture productivity growth since 2005, and as a result, poverty rates have declined in places like Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. The report notes that agriculture has had its biggest impact in countries that moved quickly to embrace the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme or CAADP, which was created in 2003. A key component of CAADP was its call for African governments to allocate 10 percent of national budgets to agriculture and to aim for six percent annual growth in the sector.
CREDIT: Ventures Africa