- Boosting smallholder farmers will be key is addressing food security at household level, especially amongst the rural poor. This is according to a policy document released by the Southern Africa Trust.
The document pin-points that, if countries in the southern Africa region are to achieve food security amongst the rural poor, there is need for a broad range of interrelated policies and strategies that include infrastructure development, anticipating climate shocks, structural reforms to strengthen the resource base of poor smallholder farmers, promoting smallholder farmers organisations, increased government support in providing access to inputs such as fertiliser and seeds, and the establishment of strong partnerships between the different social sectors.
A policy brief just released by the Southern Africa Trust entitled Seeds of Plenty: How Boosting Smallholder Farming Can Ease Hunger and Reduce Poverty at the Household Level in Southern Africa, proposes that increased agricultural production for food security in poor households, should focus on smallholder farmers, further explaining that investments in improving smallholder farming usually result in greater poverty reduction and economic growth.
The policy brief also highlights that although agricultural production is central to the southern African region’s development, it has not yet achieved the levels of production necessary to ensure food security for all, particularly for the poorest who make up about 40 percent of the region’s 249 million people.
The reasons that smallholder farming remains underdeveloped are identified in the policy brief as lack of access to land, inefficient agricultural management systems, lack of technological advancement, lack of adequate inputs for food production, and poor infrastructure, among others.
The document also recommends that the many challenges relating to the agricultural sector can be addressed through policies that enhance the role of the state in strengthening agricultural systems, with a focus on poverty.
Jennifer Chiriga, coordinator for civil society capability at the Southern Africa Trust said: “Malawi is a great example of how government intervention prioritised smallholder farmers to overcome chronic hunger and achieve national food security. The government introduced a new agricultural growth policy focused on giving subsidized inputs to smallholder farmers. The subsidies have led to a significant boost in production to the extent that Malawi has been exporting surplus staple grains to countries facing a deficit within the southern Africa region.”
The policy brief further recommends developing transport networks that link production in rural areas with markets in urban areas to support smallholder farmers to become more productive by having easier access to bigger markets and facilitating better access to farming inputs such as fertiliser and seeds.
The policy brief further calls on governments in southern Africa to invest in the management and development of water resources, including irrigation infrastructure and technologies.
As smallholder farmers rely on rain-fed agriculture, the policy brief stresses the significance of an early warning system to proactively anticipate rainfall decline and to feed this information to smallholder farmers. This could include information on input markets, pricing and food availability.
Only 5 percent of the land area of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is classified as arable land, but just 45 percent of the arable land is cultivated, and only 4.48 percent of the cultivated land is irrigated, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) statistics.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.