Smallscale farmers can gain many benefits by working together, including access to finance, inputs and markets. Forming a group can also give them greater power to influence decision makers, at local or even national level.
For African farmers to successfully feed the continent’s expanding population, transformation of subsistence smallholder farming into commercial agri-businesses is essential. But how to achieve this transformation? Delegates from the African Green Revolution Forum offer their views about the importance of collective marketing, in order to obtain better prices and other benefits such as financial credit. Staying up to date with new technologies, such as disease-resistant crop varieties, is also crucial. However, the benefits from such changes will affect not only farmers and consumers but those working right along the food value chain, whether in transport, processing or retail.
published: December 2012
All farmers want to earn a good price for their crop, but many fail to do so for various reasons. In Uganda, Farm Concern International has helped to link cassava farmers and traders, achieving benefits for both groups. By forming ‘commercial villages’, the farmers have bulked their crop, making it much easier and more efficient for traders to buy it. And by meeting traders’ need for a clean, high quality crop, farmers have been able to earn a higher price. Wambi Michael speaks to a trader and farmer, as well as Farm Concern’s country coordinator in Uganda, to find out more about how linking farmers and buyers has created a ‘win-win’ situation.
published: November 2012
Smallholder banana growers, like other smallscale farmers, can struggle to find a good market for their crop or earn a high price. They may also have difficulty obtaining disease-free, high yielding banana plants and other inputs, and this leads to low yields. In Kenya, the TechnoServe organisation has supported farmer groups to join up and establish their own banana marketing centres. By bulking their banana crop, they have attracted more consistent buyers. They have also introduced selling by kilo, rather than having to accept a price based on the buyer’s own judgement of value. And by forming a larger group, farmers have accessed better quality banana plants as well as training.
published: September 2012
Savings and credit organisations are widely established across Africa, encouraging people to save and providing small loans to those who do. But in Uganda, The Hunger Project, an international organisation, is supporting women-led savings and credit groups to set up rural banks. Six such banks have been recognised by the government, and these banks are now empowering women to improve their food security and fight hunger. Wambi Michael visits a rural bank in Wakiso, some 30 kilometres from Kampala, meeting the bank manager Rose Nanyonga and customer Dorothy Kabajungu. He also hears from Daisy Owomugasho, country director of The Hunger Project in Uganda.
published: December 2011
Collecting rainfall from rooftops enables households to save time and effort in collecting water, and to support vegetable and livestock production, even in the dry months. In Mbarara district, south west Uganda, an international NGO, ACORD, is working with groups of women in building tanks capable of holding around 20,000 litres of water. Dunstan Ddamulira of ACORD, and Winfred Baryabamu, a group member, tell Wambi Michael more about the costs and benefits of the project.
published: November 2011
In Kapamangama community, to the east of Lusaka, a neglected livestock dip tank has been rehabilitated in order to provide dipping services, at cost, to farmers. Farmers now pay around 10 US cents per animal to protect their livestock against ticks and tick-borne diseases, and livestock health in the area has improved. The community has also arranged to have communal disease prevention and treatment services provided by a private veterinary doctor, which again makes animal health an affordable option. As a result, herd sizes are increasing, and greater use of animal draft power is increasing crop yields and incomes.
published: August 2011
In Malawi, a cooperative of farmers is earning more from their sunflower and groundnut crops by processing them into cooking oil. The ingredients are carefully checked to ensure premium quality, and the oil is sold locally, with buyers coming from up to 100 km away. Seedcake from the processed groundnuts and sunflower seeds is sold to the livestock feed industry, and the group is also applying for certification from the Malawi Bureau of Standards, in order to be able to export their oil to Tanzania.
published: June 2011
In central Kenya, Bendetta Muoki has borrowed money from her savings group in order to buy seedlings for planting. Another loan has funded a water tank, so that she will not run out of water in the dry months. Innovations such as these are only possible for Bendetta because of the money she saves through the group. Farmers are often encouraged to adapt their farming systems to cope with climate change. Without capital, this is often impossible, but through savings and credit groups they can have more choices.
published: June 2011
In the town of Kerugoya, central Kenya, a new health clinic has recently opened, with a specialist maternity unit and a laboratory for disease diagnosis. But this clinic is different from many. It was built with money earned from sales of an export crop - French beans. The Kenya Horticultural Exporters company, which buys the beans from local farmers, has matched money saved by the farmers from their sales, to build and equip the new clinic. Eric Kadenge has a tour of the new facility with deputy nurse Florence Wanguru, meeting proud new mother Agnes Wangari, and her baby, Abigail.
published: May 2011
'Disability is not inability', says Alex Ekirappa, chairman of the Kenya Union of the Blind in the western district of Teso. His organisation is now supporting groups of blind farmers who want an alternative to a life of begging. Working together, and with support from the government ministries for agriculture and youth, the groups have created successful farming businesses growing vegetables such as tomatoes, and rearing livestock, including pigs and poultry. The story of how these blind people have overcome their disability is truly inspiring.
published: October 2010
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