Ovo Ugbebor of Propcom Mai-Karfi was at the agricultural summit in Lagos. She was part of a team discussing the topic Promoting Socio-Economic Development Through Agricultural Transformation. While speaking, she said her team had begun working on the challenge of low earnings facing Smallholder farmers by devising appropriate investment plans for the farmers.
Funding for Smallholder Farmers.
Ovo mentioned that a funding scheme had been established for these smallholder farmers to get the funds they need to implement their investment plans. The scheme was funded privately with £1 million. This helped increase the empowered smallholder farmers to one million. She explained that the intent of the scheme is to ensure that there is continuous delivery of farm produce through sufficient funds and up-to-date technology.
The Challenge of Nigerian Smallholder Farmers.
Before this, over 30 million farmers in Nigeria were oftentimes overlooked. They suffered low earnings and were not privileged to get the needed capital for farm growth. Ugbebor and her team were able to pinpoint the main challenge these farmers were facing – lack of finance, skill and innovation to exploit the agricultural sector.
Harriet Lamb, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the agricultural development agency, Fairtrade International, released a report after she went to work with owners of farmers of coffee, cocoa, sugar, bananas and tea. In the report, she said farmers should be put first and should enjoy equitable share of value, equitable access to finance, and that government funds should give major focus to the agricultural sector.
The Main Solution to the challenges
There should also be inclusiveness of the agricultural sector in the government’s policies and practices. The private sector, individual donors and multilateral agencies should include the agricultural sector in their budget. Harriet is pushing that smallholder farmers are recipients of subsidized solutions. She said data from Food and Agriculture Organization reveals that smallholder farmers invest $170bn into their farms per year.
“If the power imbalances that hold smallholder farmers back can be addressed now and within supportive policy environments, they will drive down hunger and build prosperity for hundreds of millions of people. Their demands for local services and farming inputs, for example, regularly go unheard. Their influence on agricultural policy and budgets, or in any global supply chains that they are part of, is extremely low, smallholder farmers often lack influence and power over decisions that affect them.” Harriet Lamb stated.
Propcom Mai-karfi is an inventive, market-driven programme financed by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) with the intent to reduce poverty in Nigeria. The programme liaises with the government, private sector and businesses to enable rural markets work better for the less privileged in the society.
Who are Smallholder Farmers?
Smallholder farmers can be defined in different ways based on the situation and ecological zone. The term is often used in place of “small-scale” or “peasant farmer”. Generally, they are called smallholders because of their inadequate resources.
They are farmers who have small plots of land where they practice subsistence farming alongside one or two cash crops with total dependence on family labour. They use simple, outdated technologies and have low earnings with mostly women carrying out the production processes.