Smallholders dominate farming in Africa. But for many, productivity of land and labour is low, returns to farming are meagre, thus leaving them living in or close to poverty. Yet domestic and regional markets for food are growing. Technologies for higher productivity exist. But often farmers cannot get inputs, credit or insurance except at very high cost; cannot find ways to sell to the most rewarding outlets.
Creating better links between small-scale farmers and firms in the supply chain thus becomes a pressing issue for agricultural development in Africa.
Across the continent, groups of farmers, government agencies, private firms, and NGOs are trying to improve these links. Hundreds of trials, pilots, small programmes and initiatives exist. Moreover, at village level farmers individually and in groups try to find ways to make the links — and to make progress even when links are imperfect.
So what do we know of these experiences? What lessons are there for governments, donors and NGOs seeking to replicate initial successes and avoid pitfalls?
This event will explore these issues from two standpoints: the experience of small-scale farmers increasing their commercial production; and the lessons emerging from the many attempts to make better links between smallholders and others in the supply chains. It will draw on the findings of research carried out by researchers in the Futures Agricultures Consortium as well as that carried out in the Leaping & Learning programme with colleagues from Agriculture for Impact.