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"In Africa, Agriculture is on the rise with smallholder farmers producing 70% of the food on the continent, but under very difficult circumstances and with only using 30% of the resources. The smallholder farmers can in fact feed themselves, but their quality of life needs improving.

For that, we need to address certain issues: lack of knowledge, lack of technical appliances, no financing to be competitive and too small to have an interesting value chain for the private sector. The public and private sectors have to tell the smallholder farmers what they need and what their standards are, because smallholder farmers need a good incentive. It is not that they cannot produce, they simply need a good enough reason because it costs money to improve the quality of their produce (e.g. through better seeds or fertilizer).

We thus need to invest in smallholder farmers and offer them a market in order to create value. Through PPPs we can unlock the value sitting in the private sector."
- Agnes Kalibata, Preseident AGRA

Small Farmers Big Business Project Lab EDD 2015

Small Farmers Big Business was at European Development Days 2015 to explore the opportunities for encouraging Public/Private Partnerships (PPPs) in smallholder agricultural development and raising the capacities of private entrepreneurs, including commercial and smallholder farmers, to meet the increasingly complex requirements of domestic, regional, and international markets.

The 'Value Chains for Value Gains' P-lab brought together policy makers and practitioners to exchange and debate approaches to engage the private sector in sustainable agriculture and inclusive agribusiness. 

Moderated by Isolina Boto, Manager of CTA Brussels a joint ACP-EU organisation, the session was opened by Keynote speaker Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA, and the panel included Jean-Pierre Halkin, Head of Rural Development Food & Nutrition Security, European Commission, Viwanou Gnassounou, Assistant Secretary General at ACP Secretariat and Apollo Owuor, Group Head of Agronomy, Kenya Horticulture Traders.

In parts of the developing world, the emergence of new supply chains driven by supermarkets and exporters has been rapid. The emerging chains generally place greater demands on farmers for quality, consistency, timeliness, volume of produce, and increasingly certification of conditions of production.

That could lead to smallholders being excluded from the markets for higher value produce. These challenges form part of a wider issue: lack of smallholder engagement with rural markets, above all for finance, insurance and for external inputs such as seed and fertilizer, that has undermined the expected benefits of economic liberalisation.

From the P-Lab discussion it was clear that a major challenge for smallholders farmers is that they have a weak market position. Smalholders need specific support to meet the quantity and quality requirements of markets, because if there is no demand there is no incentive to produce more and of better quality. A potential solution is to build a sustainable platform that enables smallholder farmers to have access to knowledge and techonogies so they can improve their quality, lower their costs and become more competitive.

In addition, the private sector could provide co-funding to enable smallholder farmers access affordable loans and investments. But to make such initiatives a success, establishing a solid basis of trust and mutual accountability is essential.


The panel presented on the following topics:

  1. Private Sector Development Support in ACP Countries presented by Mr. Viwanou Gnassounou, Assistant Secretary General Sustainable Economic Development & Trade, ACP Secretariat.
  2. EU Member states support to private sector development in agriculture and related cooperation models & instruments presented by Mr. Jean-Pierre Halkin, Head of Unit Rural Development, Food & Nutrition Security, DG-DEVCO.
  3. Challenges and opportunities for project development and implementation presented by Mr. Apollo OWUOR, Group Head of Agronomy, Kenya Horticultural Exporters Ltd. on behalf of Small Farmers Big Business Partnership.

See EDD2015 Day 1 in Pictures

See EDD2015 Day 2 in Pictures

Find more information on our presenters here.

"The public sector should create a framework to utilize the opportunities in the nexus between market and stakeholders. It should not be confined to a single policy, but should be crosscutting for all interventions. We need to rely on regional organisations, but also add an additional incentive at a local level. The smallholder farmers cannot do this alone, we have to tell them what we need, commit to a price and offer places to sell. That way, the quality and value of their produce will be improved. Public organisations also play a role in creating possibilities and facilities for smallholder farmers to get long-term loans with a lower interest rate, which in turn they will invest in improving their farming techniques and produce. Since policies and finances are major challenges for smallholder farmers, we need to set up mechanisms for proper support."
- Viwanou Gnassounou

"Agriculture is diverse with each subsector having different offers, which makes a one-off policy ineffective. The export arena in Africa is complex, so we need to provide support in linking producers and customers together. In that, the interests on either side need to be addressed in order to get a good functioning value chain. However, the private sector should provide the foundational blocks, because producers often lack the capacity. We need to build the capacity of smallholder farmers so they understand that agriculture is business and not a side activity; they need the ability for 'agropreneurship'. Smallholder farmers often do not have a balance sheet, and if they cannot show their numbers the investors will not be able to asses the risk involved. So we need support from the private sector, e.g. from banks, to help smallholder farmers sustain their finance activities."
- Apollo Owuor

"The European Commission is committed to food security and value chains, because they address the issues of poverty alleviation (hunger, stunting) and climate change (crop failure, environmental degradation). We promote inclusive value chains (access to land, innovations and markets) and want to ensure the added value from value chains flows back to the smallholder farmers. Current food systems demand more produce with less resources and at the same time improved agri-produce. We need to improve the available information for governments, investors and smallholder farmers and provide more appropriate financial resources."
- Jean-Pierre Halkin

 

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