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Posted on 15 May 2020, by Nolwazi MHODİ
Commentary: AFR is happy to bring you information and knowledge from one of our research members. As we consider African issues, we at AFR are open to the views and ideas of not only local but global scholars. Here is an interesting article by Liliia Hrytsai a PhD candidate in Political Science at Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland. Ms Hrytsai is a young Polish-Ukrainian researcher with a strong interest in sustainable development. In 2018 she defended her Master thesis on Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development in the EU. Nowadays, she is a second-year PhD student in Political Science. Her research is concentrated on local policies in the area of environmental issues. She considers cities as important transnational players, thus she focuses on their contribution to climate change mitigation and the UN Sustainable Development Goals implementation. Her research interests also include renewable energy policies, sustainable production and consumption, the concept of smart city, sustainable development models, circular economy, etc. Contact her on LillaHrytsai@gmail.com . – Nolwazi Mhodi
Small-scale farms as a Cure for African food insecurity by Ms L.Hrystai
Africa has an enormous agricultural potential, which can feed the whole continent and ensure a stable socio-economic growth. There is more than half of global unused arable land in Africa, but at the same time millions of people on the continent suffer from extreme hunger. Why African continent with such a great agricultural potential cannot be self-sufficient in terms of food? There are various reasons, but my research focuses on the problem of African small-scale farms.
Small business constitutes a key element to ensure self-sufficiency and food security in small local communities and regions. Small-scale farms can feed hundreds of local people ensuring economic prosperity for food producers and affordable prices for food buyers. In 2016, president of African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina said “To achieve food sufficiency and turn the continent into a net food exporter, Africa must empower smallholder farmers, who constitute 70% of the population and produce 80% of the food consumed in the continent.” This statement was supported by Bukar Tijani, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Africa, who pointed that “the key to Africa’s food security lies in the smallholder farmer.”
Both state and local governments need to empower small-scale farmers, especially youth and women, with knowledge, skills and other modern-day competences. According to Agnes Kalibata, the president of AGRA, it is important to “invest in modern technologies and give the youth and women more resources to venture into productive agriculture.” Investments in modern technologies and knowledge transfer could significally improve the quality of production and its volumes. Food production is strongly connected with sound policy implementation, which depends on strong governmental institutions and political will. Strategies to import modern technologies and make it affordable to smallholder farmers are the main steps on the way to increase agricultural productivity in Africa.
Unfortunately, African governments strongly prefer to concentrate on large-scale commercial farms, because it is easier than dealing with tens of thousands of smallholder farmers. Because of a weak value chain and big production losses during storage and distribution stages smallholder farmers lack basic storage, processing facilities and technical knowledge. A young entrepreneur from Ghana Kofi Yeboah says “Many smallholder farmers in Ghana farm on poor and degraded soils and lack access to affordable and appropriate inputs, including quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.” The voice of a farmers’ advocate Mabine Seabe from South Africa: “Small-scale farmers and the youth do not receive necessary funding and support from government and financial institutions due partly to high risks associated with farming.”
To sum up, Africa has a huge agricultural potential, but lacks strong social-economic policies concerning the produce of food. African governments need to create fair conditions for both large-scale and small-scale farms, and a strong support for the last ones. Governments should introduce a package of subsidies, loans of favourible terms, and knowledge transfer programs for small-scale farmers. Governmental policies need to increase yields, fertilizer and markets to enhance small-scale business’ prosperity. The main issue is to make food production profitable, affordable and sustainable for both small-scale farmers and consumers.