Are we doing enough to support small-scale farmers?

May 4, 2022 300 views 1 comment 1 minute reading time
Are we doing enough to support small-scale farmers?

Though essential to food security on the continent, Africa’s small-scale farmers are often under-resourced and impoverished while also baring the brunt of climate change and biodiversity loss.

With the Ukraine war raising fears about food insecurity and hunger, it’s never been more critical to help remove whatever barriers exist for this essential workforce. These include a lack of access to production finance and the continued fight for land rights, especially by the women in this sector who are responsible for 70% of Africa’s food. There’s not doubt that the small-scale farming community, hailed as the linchpin to economic success, could do with more support.

So what essential role do small-scale farmers play in food security? How do we harness their expertise to fight climate change? Should we import less and buy local? We took our questions to the experts.

Watch below our conversation with prominent environmental activist and geographer Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a member of the Mbororo people in Chad, and IFAD’s Sara Mbago-Bhunu, renowned for her work in the agricultural sector in Central, East and Southern Africa.

What should we be doing more of to support small-scale farmers? Comment below.



Top Comment

It is actually worrisome that a continent that accounts for 60 percent of the world's uncultivated arable land and has more than 50 percent of its working population employed in the agricultural sector, imports 85 percent of food consumed by its citizens from countries outside the continent. Achieving food security in Africa goes beyond increasing output. After all, in the last 35 years or thereabout, Africa's agricultural production has increased by over 160 percent, yet the continent has been grappling with acute food insecurity. Supporting smallholder farmers in Africa is very important, but more important is that they need inter-connected markets in the continent. Regional organizations in Africa should create markets for African smallholder farmers to trade more among themselves. This can be achieved by having zero tariffs on all agricultural products and their value chains in Africa. Presently, the European Union alone accounts for 40 percent of Africa’s agricultural exports, while the share of intra-African agricultural trade has been consistently below 20 percent. This shows that in food staples, Africa trades more with other continents than with itself. Thus, intra-regional trade in Africa can help move food from food-sufficient countries to food-insecure countries within the continent. My submission, therefore, is that impediments to agricultural trade in the continent should be dismantled to enable the free flow of food trade. This will help in achieving food security in Africa.

Thank you for this comprehensive, thoughtful comment Dr Emeka Iloh. We look forward to sharing your input in a future debate. Keep contributing... we need voices like yours.