• Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Boosting agribusiness, food production requires assisting smallholder farmers

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Driving increased productivity and profitability in Africa’s agribusiness will require strategic positioning and hand-holding of small scale farmers who are its major constituents, experts have said.

Speaking during a panel session at BusinessDay’s Africa Business Convention, Dimieari Von Kemedi, chief executive officer, Alluvial Agriculture said that a greater percentage of food in Africa is produced by small scale farmers.

Consequently, Africa’s agric potential is largely underutilized due to the prevalence of small scale farmers who have limited resources to function.

“Commercial agriculture has a significant challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa, a very significant percentage of food produced in Africa is done by small scale farmers, the best thing to do is to just strengthen them,” he said.

Kemedi added that Africa must address the assumption that small farmers can only work on one hectare, noting that most intervention programs insist on one hectare per farmer.

“Farming is very profitable but not on a tiny scale, looking at the conservative three tons per hectare, they should not be doing that rather they should do double of that or more, 10 or 20 hectares of land is no big deal for small scale farmers to manage,” he said.

Kemedi said that when farmers make their profit and it is divided by 12 months, it is usually insignificant and not enough to meet their needs, in addition to this, most of them have loans they are servicing, all of which erodes their profitability.

Speaking of access to funds, Kemedi said the psychological mind with which farmers see interventions is a significant barrier to continuous funding and sustainability, hence there is a general responsibility to ensure that farmers are on the same page with financiers

“In many cases farmers start with the assumption that there is no need to repay and on the other hand they encounter challenges that will require inputs from a third party to address in order to improve their repayment capability,” he said.

Read also: Why Nigerian farmers fail in loan repayments – Experts

He said that once farmers are repaying loans they receive, it becomes easier to raise funds for them and also push them to expand.

“Once we get that right our productivity will be enhanced,” he said.

Similarly, Ade Adefeko, vice president, corporate and government relations, Olam Nigeria said a lot of small scale farmers need hand holding, if the continent is really serious about agribusiness and farming.

“Yield improvement in Africa needs to be harnessed and increased,” he said.

He added that subnational leaders also need to be accountable and also need to get to work without waiting on the center to boost the continent’s agricultural prospects.

A report on Making Small Scale Farming Work in Sub-Saharan Africa states that it is only when small farming becomes a business in practice that agriculture can assume its role as a tool for development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It further adds that failure to exploit the potentials of agriculture has significantly compromised the role it could play in reducing poverty.

“To effectively exploit agriculture for development, small farmers must be assisted with new skills and knowledge needed to produce to market standards and in farming entrepreneurship,” it states.