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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Challenges for family farming and small-scale agriculture production in ACP countries

CTA is to collaborate with the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) Committee on Social Affairs and the Environment to draft a report on the Challenges for family farming and small-scale agriculture production in ACP countries. The report will consider the current status of family farming in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, the main challenges that family farmers face, the approaches and responses needed to address the challenges – including identifying interventions that are already demonstrating successes. Lastly, it will evaluate what type of support can be provided by development partners, including the EU. It is foreseen that the report will be submitted before the Committee at the JPA regional meeting in Gaborone, Botswana in April 2016.

A presentation on the subject of family farming and small-scale agriculture production in ACP countries was made by CTA Director, Michael Hailu, before the JPA Committee on Social Affairs and the Environment during a meeting held on 17 March 2016 in Brussels. A key message of his discourse was that, although family farmers in the ACP do face many challenges – particularly in terms of access to inputs, services, ICT and finance – these are not insurmountable, and solutions are available which need greater support to be upscaled or more broadly implemented. Some of these responses include strengthening farmer’s organisations to ensure that their members are able to better integrate into the value chain, promoting access to new technologies that encourage innovation and increase productivity, and also improving sharing of information and knowledge resources with family farmers and the institutions that support them.

“What we should be looking at is the transformation of agriculture, because if we continue with the subsistence model of farming, a lot of rural people won’t see a future in farming, they just have enough to eat. Unless farmers get enough extra cash to send their children to school, to be able to buy other necessaries and invest in their farms, it will be very difficult to change the perception about agriculture and especially to keep young people in the agricultural sector”, argued Michael Hailu.

An exchange of views took place with members of the Committee coming from ACP and EU Parliaments, as well as the European Commission and other observers. Issues that were raised included the need to modernise University curricula for agriculture in order to encourage youth entrepreneurship, the links between family farming and migration, and solutions to improve access to finance for farmers. A matter of common concern for many delegates was the impact of climate change on family farming, as well as the availability and use of resources including land, water and other inputs. In his response, Michael Hailu emphasised sustainable intensification as a practice which can help farmers to adapt to these challenges and improve both their performance and resilience.

Source: CTA Brussels Office