Smallholder farmers to transform Africa’s agriculture

Saturday February 22 2020

 

By Michael J. Ssali

Since smallholder farmers have small gardens and use simple hand tools they are in a better position to take good care of their crops and their gardens especially if they have the needed skills and inputs including fertilisers and irrigation tools.

They are in a better position to come up with high yields since they closely monitor the crops growing in the gardens.
This was observed in the Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR) that was commissioned in 2017 by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) when it stated, “Majorly, the key contributors to the African agricultural growth will be small and medium enterprises and smallholder farmers.”

The report warned that Sub-Saharan aggregate annual food import bill would rise to $110b in 2025 from about $35b in 2017 which would put a strain on the continent’s fledging economies unless governments put their concerted efforts in building an agro-based economy by providing an enabling environment to smallholder farmers.

It went on to state that Africa had about 51 million farms of which 80 per cent (or 41 million) were smaller than five acres and that those farms brought forth 70 per cent of Africa’s total food requirements and their numbers were increasing.

“Agriculture must not always be looked at as a large-scale enterprise thanks to the American and European agrarian revolutions, where land consolidation was the norm,” it says. “While larger farms present a pleasant mechanisation platform, they kill employment. With smallholder farmers however, the employment numbers are significant. For instance, for every 1000 litres of milk in Kenya there are 23 full-time jobs for the self-employed, 50 permanent full-time jobs for employees, and three full-time casual labour jobs.”
It compared this situation with large scale mechanised monocultures which take 150 acres to create one job.

It urged Sub-Saharan governments to commit at least 10 per cent of their annual budgets to agriculture as per the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The report also praised Rwanda for allocating 10.2 per cent of its budget to agriculture while the majority of other countries on the continent were only about half-way to achieving the CAADP goal.

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— ssalimichaelj@gmail.com

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