Smallholder farmers provide the vast majority of the world’s food supply, and ‘small-scale farming’ is the largest occupation group of economically active people, 43% of which are women.
Approximately 2 billion of the world’s poorest live in households that depend on agriculture in some form for their livelihoods, whether this is for market or subsistence. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that growth in agriculture in developing countries is on average almost 3 times more effective in reducing poverty (relative to non-agriculture GDP growth).
The issue of land ownership and reform is one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture in Africa and other emerging economies. Land ownership is a key driver of investment in agricultural production. Without title to land or even an address, farmers’ access to credit and insurance can be limited. Land sales are prohibited in China (although land titling and consolidation is now being looked at by the government as part of its agricultural reforms), and constrained in India and many African countries.
Between May and July this year, 22 new plant clinics were established in Kenya. Nine of these clinics were launched by the Smallscale Horticulture Development Project (SHDP), which has been funded by the African Development Bank to help smallholder farmers increase the amount that they produce and earn through irrigation and enhanced marketing. The new clinics have been initiated by the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in irrigation schemes in nine districts.
This video shows how farmers in East and Southern Africa have been benefiting from increased rice yield after implementing SRI management practices. By following some simple principles in how to transplant the rice seedlings, maintain soil health, carefully irrigate, and manage weeds and nutrients, farmers can now produce a lot more rice than they used to using traditional methods. Continue reading →
This Kenyan TV series may be quite different to other reality shows you’ve seen. Here, farmers get a makeover of their shamba with advice on how to get the most out of their land, including planting tips, which seed varieties to use, and how to store harvested crops.
This is something we feel strongly about at CABI, where we work closely with farmers in developing countries to provide practical advice for sustainable control of crop pests and diseases. Our Plant Clinics take place weekly in a prominent local meeting place, such as a market, so that any local farmers can bring their plant samples along for treatment advice. Better management of crop pests and diseases results in higher yields – in Bangladesh, for example, farmers benefitted from a 9% increase in crop yields (read study summary).
“Well managed, sustainable agriculture can not only overcome hunger and poverty, but can address other challenges from climate change to the loss of biodiversity. Its value and its contribution to multiple economic, environmental and societal goals needs to be recognized in the income and employment prospects for the half a million smallholdings across the globe,” said Mr. Steiner.