“I was born here, and I am still here”, says Joseph Kaguata, a rural farmer in the Lari District, Kenya.
According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), today there are about 500 million small farms in developing countries that are feeding and supporting 2 billion people, which is almost one third of humanity.
Most of these smallholder farmers in the world are struggling to live and feed their family due to the fact they are facing several challenges: lack of access to land and water, financial services to buy inputs (seeds, fertilizers, tools) and markets (due to poor road infrastructure and high cost of transport). In addition to these, they are also victims of the impacts of climate change (droughts, floods, land degradation) and being located in remote areas, they do not get support from research and extension services.
In the following video, Joseph Kaguata, a farmer in the rural area of district Lari in Kenya tells us how drought and lack of technical support from research and extension services have prevented him from progressing in his farming activities:
It is true that smallholder farmers in developing countries are not producing a lot of food compared to large commercial farmers in developed countries, but from Joseph’s testimonial, we can see how it is becoming more and more difficult for smallholder farmers to keep up their agricultural activities and get out of the poverty trap. And despite all these challenges, they are managing to feed 2 billion people in the world!
Just imagine how much the picture could have been different, if these farmers had access to inputs, finance, markets, technical support and trainings from extension services. Smallholder farmers have a lot of knowledge and skills in farming, and they have the potential to contribute to global food security, but they need to be supported.
National Agricultural policies should be designed and implemented in such a way that the situation of smallholder farmers is improved and greater efforts are needed for research results to reach them at farm level, not only to increase production and bettering their livelihoods, but also to teach them how to produce more while conserving the environment.
We cannot have sustainable development without sustainable Agriculture, and we cannot have sustainable Agriculture without the involvement of smallholder farmers!
It is high time they are included in policy decisions and implementation of food security programmes and these issues will be addressed at the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2), which will focus on Foresight, Partnerships and Capacity Development.
Are you a smallholder farmer or your work involves working with them? How do you think results of Agricultural Research can be made more accessible to them? What the possible reasons behind this gap between farmers, research and extension, and what solutions can you propose?
This blogpost was written by Nawsheen Hosenally, one of the GCARD Social Reporters.