Africa 'must support small farmers'

2011-12-02 15:42

Durban - African governments should put their money where their mouths are when it comes to farming, says the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network.

Briefing journalists at Cop17 in Durban on Friday, network CEO Lindiwe Sibanda said with the 2003 Maputo Declaration, countries on the continent had agreed to devote 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture.

"Eight years later, only 10 African countries have done this. We are not investing where our mouth is."

Lack of access to finance and technology, among other things, meant maize yields among African small farmers were a fraction of what they should be.

"They could get 10 tons a hectare; they are achieving one to three tons a hectare," Sibanda said.

Governments were also "not putting in place the right policies to address the challenges".

Such lack of investment had "killed" the region’s agricultural research sector, leaving it "asset poor" when it came to knowledge.

Sibanda said Africa had the ability to feed itself. This had to be done through investment in small farmers, who were the engines of the continent’s food security.

"Smallholder agriculture is key... the hand hoe is still the tool of choice for most of our farmers."

If such farmers were adequately supported, 80% of the region’s food problems would be solved. Yet many householders had to survive on the equivalent of one US dollar a day.

"How can they manage to buy good seed and fertilizer?"

Calling for a uniquely African green revolution, Sibanda said high food prices could be brought down if the continent could feed itself.

  • ozzie.oz1 - 2011-12-02 16:00

    Well for a start they can stop killing all the white farmers!!

  • Sharon - 2011-12-02 16:18

    Don't worry, somebody else will do it for them. Thats been the african attitude.

  • Sheda - 2011-12-02 16:33

    AFRICA. AFRICA. I am quite sick off us been compared to Africa We are SOUTH AFRICA so why must we do things the AFRICAN way. AFRICA IS ONE HUGE FAILURE. SOUTH AFRICA IS NOT A FAILURE.

      Sharon - 2011-12-02 16:35

      Agree. Just not sure how far behing the rest of Africa we are.

      lynch - 2011-12-03 14:28

      @Sheda thats one stupid comment i have seen, Africa is a continent of which South Africa is part. If they talk about Africa we are included. @Sharon i wonder where are you from. You guys calls yourselves Africans only when it suits you.

  • Hunter - 2011-12-02 16:46

    Small framers must be developed into commercial farmers. If they do not sell their produce they will never have the money to buy good seed and fertilizer. To expect that government should give them the money is not sustainable. They should generate an income from their farming, not just feed themselves.

  • Maverick82 - 2011-12-02 16:56

    Maybe we should ask Juliass what to do?...oh wait, he only knows about taking farms, my bad :-/

  • Carlin - 2011-12-02 16:58

    The small farmer is not commercially viable unless he is an intensive farmer. This cannot be achieved with a hand hoe. This speech was all political bulldust customarily devoid of common sense. The fruit of the "African Way" is to be seen throughout Africa. No more be need said on that point. If Africans could eat words they would all be fat, because that (and AIDS) seems to be all Africans can produce.

      Morné - 2011-12-02 17:59

      I disagree with you Carlin. Small scale farming is commercially viable. I have read several success stories of small scale farmers further north in Africa. What does not work is trying to apply large scale, high input commercial farming methodologies to small scale farming. Small scale farming is considerably more flexible in terms of crop selection, multi-cropping, the use high return crops (e.g. vegetables in stead of the grains and staples), good soil husbandry and environmental control. Trying to be commercially competitive whilst growing one hectare of GM maize, saturated in fertilizers and pesticides is a recipe for disaster. It does not mean that less skill is required farming small scale than large; its just different skills and a different approach.

  • Sam - 2011-12-03 13:36

    perfect , farming is excellent in africa

  • Zion - 2011-12-07 16:23

    In the long term or short term one-man farming is nothing more than subsistence farming. Subsistence farming is inherently one of the most unproductive methods of farming. Even the ancient Sumerian and Egyptians did not employ this method of farming. In both cases the community was used to work the lands. The call goes out in the article that the small farmer must be supported, How? If a tractor can plough so many acres in one day then 2 tractors will be required to plough twice the no. of acres. And every farmer will have to own a tractor or borrow one plus all the normal implements. The small holdings must be amalgamated then the crops will be exponentially more.

  • Zion - 2011-12-07 16:30

    Some weeks ago there was a programme on TV where SA commercial farmers were woo'd by African countries to pack up and farm there. A farmer in the Coligny area told me the idea was great seeing that the governments will give them a once off subsidy to start up their farms. Those countries have almost no infrastructure to support the farmer while there are continuous factional fighting and wars in those countries which do not auger well for farming due to theft and raids etc. Nothing will change. When the crop burns the nation starves.

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